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The Sentinels of Andersonville Hardcover – February 1, 2014
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When Emery Jones, an idealistic Confederate soldier, finally captures a Union soldier after a long standoff, he comes to respect his adversary on the trek to the infamous Andersonville prison and vows that he will be safe. When Emery meets Dance Pickett, an aristocratic Southern militiaman and the estranged son of a famous father, he discovers a kindred soul who believes that the Union prisoners are also God’s children. Violet Stiles, who has devised a way to make much-needed buttons for the Confederate soldiers, goes to Andersonville seeking a shipment of supplies, and sees starving, dying, and dead Union soldiers. Appalled that her beloved father, a physician who volunteers there, hasn’t done more, she decides to form a group to feed the prisoners, only to discover that doing the right thing can have unexpectedly difficult repercussions. Groot’s three young Southern protagonists find friendship and love in the midst of adversity as they follow the moral path, even though it may mean death and dishonor. Groot’s (Stones of My Accusers, 2004) well-researched, inspirational historical tale, with its frank depiction of the atrocities at Andersonville and realistic portrayal of characters who question what it truly means to be Christian, will be compelling and memorable for a diverse audience. --Diana Tixier Herald
"The Sentinels of Andersonville is Tracy Groot's beautifully written retelling of an age-old story of the triumph of compassion in the midst of horror and evil. Set in and around the Andersonville Prison, the lives of three Southerners converge as they plot to save a friend. Transformation and redemption are at the heart of The Sentinels of Andersonville. Tracy Groot proves to be first-rate storyteller." New York Times Best-Selling Author, Robert Hicks, The Widow of the South and A Separate Country
"A poignant, heartwarming story of how human kindness and the willingness to take risks can make a difference."
Author Tracy Groot has "Good historical homework", "Memorable characters whose anguish is palpable", is "Page-turning", and has "A good instinct".
EDITOR'S CHOICE! - "This novel is a stirring story that demands to be read in one sitting because readers won't want to leave these unforgettable characters, and Tracy Groot could not have done a better job with this topic. Even while giving us horrifying visions of "fence-posts" of dead soldiers, we still cannot 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."
Historical Novel Society, UK, Feb '14
"Well-researched, inspirational historical tale...compelling and memorable for a diverse audience."
Booklist Review, Jan '14
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If you do nothing in a difficult time,
your strength is limited.
Rescue those being taken off to death,
and save those stumbling toward slaughter.
If you say, “But we didn’t know about this,”
won’t He who weighs hearts consider it?
Won’t He who protects your life know?
Won’t He repay a person according to his work?
As I read these words I was reminded of Tracy Groot’s Civil War era book, The Sentinels of Andersonville. In this gripping novel, the characters must come face to face with what they really believe — are all men worth saving, or only those we call our brothers? Both of my book clubs read Sentinels this month because we are hosting an Author Meet And Greet for Tracy Groot. She is in town to take part in Museum Night at the Andersonville Historic Site just 45 minutes from my home town. I am beyond excited about meeting her and hearing about how she came to write Sentinels. To say the novel is moving and thought-provoking is certainly an understatement. One of By The Book’s members told me it was the best historical fiction we had read in the 12+ years of meeting. If you have not read this book, by all means pick it up and move it to the very top of your TBR pile.
Three young Southerners come face to face with the horrors of Andersonville Prison in the last year of the Civil War. Sherman is advancing on Atlanta and the prison population has increased to 28,000 men in the 26 acre camp. Conditions can only be described as hellish, yet there are glimpses of hope and help amid the darkness. Violet Stiles, an Americus belle, Dance Pickett, guard at the prison and Emery Jones an Alabama soldier seek, to rally the people of Americus to alleviate the suffering at the prison. But their new group, the FAP – Friends of Andersonville – is met with varying degrees of dismissal and open hostility. It is hard for a town that has faced so much loss at the hands of an invader to find compassion for the misery of the enemy.
Tracy Groot has written a book that needed to be told. Fair-handed on both sides of the issue, she reveals the true heart of the conflict between the North and the South. Characters, both major and minor, are well-developed. The dialog of the characters advances the story, but also fleshes out their personalities, motives and feelings. I especially liked Violet’s character. A true Southern belle, she has been shielded by the harsh realities of the prison by her father. But when she comes face to face with the truth, she falters only a moment, then gathers her will to do what is right. A member of Page Turners said that Violet was cross between Scarlet and Melanie from Gone with The Wind. I also liked the relationship that develops between Emery and the Union soldier, Lew, he condemns to the prison. And Dance’s sacrifice to uphold a promise made me wonder what my own response would be if faced with a similar situation.
As always when trying to review a truly wonderful book, I find my words are inadequate. So I will leave you with this one admonishment — read this book!!
Very Highly Recommended.
Much of the dialogue was brilliant, though I did feel it sometimes slipped into being slightly unbelievable. The same could be said of the plot and the way things resolved themselves in the end. Nonetheless, I gladly give this book five stars, as it was an incredibly ambitious undertaking, for the most part excellently achieved. A difficult story told with great heart.
As I said, I have an ancestor who died at Andersonville so I knew a little about the prison and the atrocities that occurred there. But this book opened my eyes and laid my heart bare. I knew conditions were bad - I didn't realize they were THAT bad. I literally had tears in my eyes at some of the descriptions of the deprivations endured by the Union soldiers imprisoned in that literal hell on earth.
It's been a while since I read A Tale of Two Cities, but The Sentinels of Andersonville reminds me very much of it in the selfless sacrifices made by the characters. It's a beautifully well-written tale of friendship, loyalty, and courage in the face of the most oppressive conditions and desperate times. It's not a book that is solely for Civil War buffs or history junkies - it's just a really good read that pulls you in from the opening lines and doesn't let you go until the oh-so-satisfying conclusion. I hope someone takes this book on as a possible screenplay. It would really make a wonderful movie.
I am not satisfied to merely have the free version of this book on my Kindle. I have to have it in hardcover. Like I said, it's THAT kind of book. Do yourself a favor and read it.
Most recent customer reviews
The story's end seemed to be cut short, unsatisfactorily so. It's as if the author was just ready to be done with it.