Sentinels of Andersonville

It’s not often that a book can horrify and give hope at the same time; that it can make you laugh and cry on the same page; that it can take you back in history and at the same time make you feel that the future is of pressing importance. THE SENTINELS OF ANDERSONVILLE, a Civil War-era novel by Tracy Groot, is such a book.

"The Sentinels of Andersonville" by Tracy Groot

I read SENTINELS back in the spring and haven’t had a chance to review it until now, but it’s easily the best book I’ve read in a long time, so I couldn’t just let it go without sharing it!

(I’m not alone in my opinion; after I read the book, it won this year’s Christy Award–the top award for the Christian fiction industry–in the Historical Fiction category.)

The story revolves around Andersonville Prison, a prisoner-of-war camp in Georgia during the American Civil War. The site, where 13,000 Union soldiers died in a single year due to inexcusable malnutrition, disease, and exposure, is a marker to the evils not of torture or slaughter but of neglect — to the horrors that can come from simply looking the other way.

Image from "The Sentinels of Andersonville"

While the story is fiction, its heroes are based on real people who found they could not look the other way any longer. The situation at Andersonville is overwhelming and growing worse by the day, a darkness no one person could possibly dispel. Even so, Dance Pickett, a sentry at Andersonville; a local doctor’s family; and a Confederate soldier with the gall to befriend a Northern POW summon the courage to TRY. And courage is required, for the good people of Americus, the nearby town, do not want to open their eyes to see, their ears to hear, or their hearts to understand.

Broken and embittered by the war, their efforts are for the relief of their own boys on the front, not for the help of enemies whom, they are sure, are being looked after. Asking “who is my neighbor?” may cost our heroes everything they have in the world.

But not asking it, and answering it, will cost them their souls.

Beautifully written with wit, pathos, and powerful insights, THE SENTINELS OF ANDERSONVILLE plumbs the depths of the human heart and ultimately concludes that while there is much we cannot do, there is always something we can . . . as long as we are willing to see.

Check out THE SENTINELS OF ANDERSONVILLE. It’s more than worth the read.






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