You’ve seen a lot of things you weren’t supposed to see.

Some might call you “snoopy.” Others might say you’re “nosy,” but you understand that keeping your eyes open, finding information, and knowing what you’re not supposed to know can sometimes be a good thing. And in the new book “Spy on History: Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring” by Enigma Alberti and Tony Cliff, sleuthing and snooping can change history.

Bet Van Lew knew that what she was about to ask of Mary Bowser was huge.

Once a slave owned by Bet’s family, Mary had given Bet many things through the years; when Bet freed the Van Lew family’s slaves, Mary kept in touch with her Quaker friend, who had ensured that Mary got a good education. Theirs was a strong bond, but Bet now had a problem.

She was pulling together “a network of spies” to help Union forces in the Civil War. Bet knew that with Mary’s schooling and smarts, Mary would be the right person to gather intelligence inside the Confederate White House, where President Jefferson Davis lived with his family. Bet had to ask for help.

She needed Mary.

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