SHADOW OF THE SENTINEL: One Man's Quest to Find the Hidden Treasure of the Confederacy

Warren Getler, Author, Bob Brewer, Author, Bob Brewer, Joint Author . Simon & Schuster $23 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7432-1968-6

Conspiracy connoisseurs tired of contemplating whether Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone will feast on this tale of the 19th-century doings of the Knights of the Golden Circle. According to treasure hunter Brewer (aided by Bloomberg News editor-at-large Getler), who attempts to unravel their secrets in hopes of finding millions of dollars of hidden gold, the KGC was a sinister group of influential Southerners intent on engineering the secession of Southern states. They supposedly conspired to split the 1860 Democratic convention so that a weak candidate would emerge, guaranteeing Lincoln's election and support for secession—a deep game indeed. Losing the Civil War sent them underground, where, the authors say, political theorist and KGC member Jesse James, whose death they faked, led them to amass a fortune primarily through the pedestrian crimes of bank and stagecoach robbery and, more creatively, by collecting a multimillion-dollar award from Mexican Emperor Maximilian as repayment for aiding Maximilian's tottering regime. They hid their treasure, preserving knowledge of its whereabouts through a series of devilishly complex symbols known only to initiates for the day the South would rise again. Brewer believes some of his relatives were "sentinels" charged with protecting the KGC's hidden treasure. As fanciful as the group's history sounds (and the authors admit it is heavily based on circumstantial evidence), Brewer is convincing that the code existed and that he deciphered some of it, and his treasure hunting meets with modest success. In the end, this is a curiosity that will strain many readers' credibility, but leave a lingering "Maybe." Photos, maps. Agents, Matt Bialer and Robert Gottlieb.(June)

Reviewed on: 04/21/2003
Release date: 05/01/2003
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Paperback - 340 pages - 978-1-4165-9116-0
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