The Sentinels of
(Tyndale House), the latest historical novel by Tracy Groot,
is an exciting retelling of the parable of the Good Samaritan through events
surrounding Andersonville Prison towards the end of the Civil War. A
Confederate prison in Sumter County, Georgia, Andersonville Prison held tens of
thousands of Union soldiers in appalling unsanitary conditions for several
months. Through the eyes of various characters, The Sentinels of Andersonville sheds light on the conditions of the
prison and its captives while emphasizing the importance of caring for your
Confederate Corporal Emery Jones captures and leads Union
soldier Lew Gann to Andersonville Prison. Through days of travel, Lew and Emery
form a camaraderie and bond of friendship which transcends their Union and
Confederate heritages. Upon seeing the state of the prison and its prisoners,
Emery vows to help Lew escape and return to his wife and children – even if it
costs him his life. Meanwhile, Lew struggles to survive the destitute
conditions of the prison and maintain a stable frame of mind.
Dance Pickett, educated at the University of Georgia, is
posted as a Confederate sentry guarding the stockade wall of Andersonville.
Dance witnesses the desperate circumstances of the captives but is powerless to
help them. His prestigious lawyer father has connections to the Georgia
Governor, but his attempts to contact him and plead for assistance have failed
thus far. With the arrival of Corporal
Emery Jones, Dance becomes involved in events, which could mean new hope for
the destitute prisoners.
The Stiles family lives in nearby Americus, Georgia. Dr.
Norton Stiles is no stranger to the conditions of Andersonville, ten miles
away. He helps each week at the prison infirmary and has done his part to
obtain help for the prisoners and smuggle them food. Violet Stiles, oldest of
the Stiles daughters, has long been shielded from the mayhem of Andersonville
Prison by her father. She reacts with shock and concern after glimpsing the
prison conditions. Her ensuing campaigns to assist the prisoners and collect
food for them cause doubts and rumors to spread of her family’s Union
sympathies. As Emery, Dance, and Violet join forces to fight for the atrocious
conditions of the prison to be remedied, they encounter resistance and turmoil
within their own community of Americus. Murmurs of the Stiles and their friends
being traitors or spies circulate the community and catch the attention of
detectives and the Prison General. This sets off a chain of events which cannot
The story flows seamlessly while multiple characters’ viewpoints
are expressed to enrich the story. The characters experience the reluctance and
doubt of their own neighbors in Americus, though a few citizens are sympathetic.
They turn to the Scriptures for reassurance and guidance in helping those in
need. Each character strives to find his or her place in society.
The themes of the novel include the true meaning of
sacrifice and the difference one person can make when he or she decides to take
action. Through skilled storytelling and prose, Tracy Groot weaves accurate
historical details and events with fictional characters to create a captivating
novel which encourages the reader to consider the plights of his or her
Courtney Clark is a small-town girl from Arkansas who loves Jesus, reading, photography, cooking, crocheting, and hot tea (in any combination). When she’s not doing any of those things, she’s working at her family’s restaurant or teaching at the local community college. Catch up with her at her blog, thegreenmockingbird.wordpress.com, or follow her on twitter @CameraCourt.