Review:My grandmother’s father fought in the Civil War. He lost his leg and was given a wooden peg leg after which he returned to battle. Such was the lot of the Confederate soldier. He was a school master before and after the Civil War or as some have called it “The Northern Aggression.” It all depends on what your geographical and political perspective happens to be. My grandmother was known to say, “There was nothing “civil” about that war.” There is a copy of a picture that has been handed down through the years that shows him with his family in front of a very small derelict house. I often wondered at the harshness of how they must have lived and their poverty. And that is a bit of what The Sentinels of Andersonville is about. But just a bit.
First of all after delving into this work of fiction realizing that it was a thoroughly researched historical story, I came away thinking that we as Americans need to read this and other similar works. This happened on our own soil. This was experienced by Americans just a few decades ago.
Tracy Grott voices the plight of Union soldiers held captive during the last year or so of the war. Remember that in the South, food supply lines had been blocked and the agrarian supply of Southern farms vastly diminished because there were no men to work the fields and some areas had been ruined by invading Union army as they made their way toward victory. So there was precious little to feed the local people and even less to feed the “agressors” held captive in the Andersonville prison. But lack of food does not excuse the conditions about which this story is written.
There are guard sentinels that see daily the plight of the captured enemy held within the boundaries of Andersonville Prison. They see the deprivation. Smell the stench of unsanitary conditions. See the filthy water flowing through the compound of which the prisoners must drink. These sentinels are not wholly unmoved by what they see.
There is a lack of sentinels in the nearby town of Americus. The folks in the town are simply wrapped up in themselves and ignore the stench that wafts toward them from 10 miles away. But a day of awakening comes to a precious few and they become sentinels. They try to awaken those amongst whom they live to the plight of the Yankee soldiers but the cry of treason rings out.
Abiding in inhumanly uncrowded, unsanitary conditions and underfed, uncared on every level, the prisoners are dying in terrible agony.
This book will not entertain. It will cause the reader to mull over what he or she might have done were they in such a situation. It is not necessarily an accusation thrown at the South, it is an challenge to one’s human spirit itself to declare within the core of its existence not to allow such to occur at your backdoor.
About the author: Tracy Groot is the critically acclaimed and Christy Award–winning author of several novels. Her most recent books exemplify her unique style of storytelling—reimagining biblical stories within other historical contexts. Tracy's novels have received starred Booklist and Publishers Weekly reviews and have been called "beautifully written" and "page-turning" by Publishers Weekly and "gripping" with "exquisitely drawn" characters by Library Journal.
DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of the Sentinels of Andersonville was provided by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. in exchange for our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer. No compensation was received for this review.