Saturday, December 3, 2016

Book review: Gunpowder Girls by Tanya Anderson

Tanya Anderson, Gunpowder Girls: The True Stories of Three Civil War Tragedies (Quindaro Press: Kansas City, MO, 2016), 157 pp.  Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or

I admit that when I first found out this book existed, I had a little moment of panic, thinking that someone else had written the book that I’m writing.  I needn’t have worried though, because I know mine won’t be the last on the subject – Civil War history is a very well-documented field.  Anderson’s Gunpowder Girls is aimed for a young adult audience, and as someone who has been studying the Civil War since about the age of eight, I would have loved to have had this as a kid.  But it was still highly enjoyable as an adult. 

Gunpowder Girls focuses on the three most well-documented explosions at arsenals during the war: the Allegheny Arsenal near Pittsburgh, the Confederate States Laboratory on Brown’s Island in Richmond, and Washington Arsenal in the District of Columbia.  Anderson has done what I have been seeking to do: getting to know the workers and victims as well as possible so that they aren’t just names on a memorial.  Both she and I have been doing this through 1860 Census records (hooray for Ancestry memberships!) and as much period newspaper articles of the arsenals as can be found.  Anderson’s work has even filled in some small gaps to my own research.

So whether you have a young Civil War enthusiast in your life that still needs a Christmas present or you just enjoy reading about unsung women of history, Gunpowder Girls is a welcome addition to any history library. 
Gunpowder Girls - Quindaro Press