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Feb 4, 2014

The Sentinels of Andersonville by Tracy Groot

Realistic portrait of heroes of the Civil War

The Sentinels of Andersonville by Tracy Groot
Tyndale, February 2014
HC 368 pages
Historical fiction
Review copy provided by the publisher for review in the February 2014 Historical Novel Society magazine
Editors' Choice Review
Burton Book Review Rating: FIVE STARS

Dance Pickett knows better than most the suffering contained within the walls of Andersonville Prison. Posted on sentry duty, he'd like to help the condemned and dying prisoners of war but knows that any mercy he extends will be seen as treason.

Southern belle Violet Stiles could never have imagined the atrocities that lay just ten miles from her home. Surely the good folk of Americus would never knowingly condone such barbarism. When Violet's goodwill campaign stirs up accusations of Union sympathies and endangers her family, she realizes she must tread carefully.Confederate corporal Emery Jones never expected to find camaraderie with the Union prisoner he escorted to Andersonville. But the soldier's wit and poignant longing for his wife and children strike a chord in Emery.

How can this man, so like himself, be an enemy? Emery vows that this unlikely friendship will survive beyond the war--little knowing what that promise will cost him. As these three young Rebels cross paths and share their tales, a plot forms that, if successful, could hang them for treason. Will they have the strength to stand against and fight for their fellow man? Wrestling with God's harsh truth, they must decide for themselves, once and for all, Who is my neighbor?
Andersonville Prison was a death camp masquerading as a prison during the Civil War for the captured Union soldiers, but did the Confederates want it that way? The author relays a story so horrifying yet utterly compelling as we follow three young soldiers whose lives will never be the same simply because they crossed paths. While transporting his prisoner to Andersonville, Emery Jones suddenly faces treasonous thoughts when he realizes the deplorable conditions of the prison in Georgia. He meets Dance Pickett and Violet Stiles who echo his sentiments about the conditions and their efforts to clean up Andersonville lead to sad statements about humanity and the lack of justice during war.

A stirring story that demands to be read in one sitting because you don't want to leave these unforgettable characters, Tracy Groot could not have done any better with this topic. Even while giving us horrifying visions of 'fence-posts' of dead soldiers, we still could not help but reach for that ultimate gift of a happily ever after. The Sentinels of Andersonville is a wonderfully powerful and evocative story that I would recommend to any historical fiction fan.

My one complaint is that I do wish it were longer, I did not want it to end!

Edited so that I can add that I told you so!
The Sentinels of Andersonville was a 2015 Christy Award Winner.