- Hardcover: 480 pages
- Publisher: Savas Beatie; Annotated edition edition (June 1, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1611213886
- ISBN-13: 978-1611213881
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 63 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
The War Outside My Window: The Civil War Diary of LeRoy Wiley Gresham, 1860-1865 Hardcover – June 1, 2018
|New from||Used from|
$1.66 extra savings coupon applied at checkout.
Sorry. You are not eligible for this coupon.
See the Best Books of 2018 So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year so far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
“The War Outside My Window is a remarkable diary that illuminates important aspects of mid-19th-century American life. Kept by a Georgia teenager coping with a fatal disease, it affords modern readers the best record I have encountered of the daily suffering and treatment of a terminally ill person during the Civil War era. Beyond the rich evidence relating to LeRoy Wiley Gresham’s illness and Victorian medicine, it includes a bountiful array of observations about military, political, and social elements of the Civil War as witnessed from the Confederate home front. Alternately instructive, moving, and disturbing, this diary deserves a wide audience.” (Gary W. Gallagher, Nau Professor of History, University of Virginia)
“The War Outside My Window is really a window looking into the thoughts and perceptions of a doomed teenager who watched the Confederacy die even as he was dying himself. Intimate, observant, thoughtful, often amusing, his diary offers a heartrending portrait of courage and resilience by a young man robbed of his youth, one personal tragedy amid the decline and collapse of the South. Pitiably few records survive to give us an understanding of the inner world of the young in the Civil War era. LeRoy Gresham’s “Window” lets in more light on the subject than any other source we have.” (William C. Davis, author of Inventing Loreta Velasquez)
“As The War Outside My Window aptly demonstrates, LeRoy Wiley Gresham was a fascinating young man possessed of wit, insight, and eloquence, all while suffering from the ravages of a terminal disease. His diary (published here for the first time) is simultaneously fascinating, insightful, compelling, and tragic. Anyone interested in the home front in the South during the Civil War, slavery, family, and the travails of doomed youth will find this book a real treasure. It deserves a wide audience well beyond the Civil War community, and a place on your bookshelf. Kudos to Savas Beatie and editor Janet Croon for bringing this story to life.” (Eric J. Wittenberg, award-winning Civil War historian)
“In The War Outside My Window, an articulate Southern teenager records his observations on military, political, and social events as they unfold, mostly outside the sphere of his confinement in Macon, Georgia, as the Union juggernaut slowly devours the resources of the Confederacy. But windows go both ways, and this unique diary also grants readers unprecedented access into a parallel internal battle being waged by a spunky youth whose comfort, vigor, and life itself are being devoured by the fatal medical scourge of the nineteenth century. This poignant account of LeRoy’s courageous, but ultimately unsuccessful personal struggle is certain to grip your heart. Civil War students and medical historians alike will find a rich and rare trove of primary source material in this unique five-year chronicle.” (Dennis A. Rasbach, MD, FACS, author of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and the Petersburg Campaign)
“The War Outside My Window offers a powerful, entertaining, and insightful glimpse into the world of the Civil War from an unlikely author. Twelve years old and suffering from a severe leg injury when the war began, LeRoy Gresham took to his diary to explore the turbulent world around him in a candid and often humorous manner. Covering serious topics such as slavery and politics as well as the more light-hearted concerns of a young boy, Gresham’s account reminds us that the war touched those far removed from the battlefield even as the more routine aspects of life continued. While the war raged beyond Gresham’s window, this never-before published diary is itself a rare window into the Civil War home front.” (Caroline E. Janney, author of Remembering the Civil War: Reunion and the Limits of Reconciliation)
“The volume gains poignancy from Gresham’s incomplete final writing… likely to be of most interest to historians or serious students of the period.” (Hannah Kushnick Publisher's Weekly)
About the Author
Janet E. Croon holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, Modern European History, and Russian Language and Area Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1983), and a Master’s Degree in International Studies from the University of Dayton (1985). She has been teaching International Baccalaureate History for nearly two decades and developed a deep interest in the Civil War by living in northern Virginia. She is the author of The War Outside My Window: The Civil War Diary of LeRoy Wiley Gresham, 1860-1865.
If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $2.99 (Save 69%). Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.
For thousands of qualifying books, your past, present, and future print-edition purchases now lets you buy the Kindle edition for $2.99 or less. (Textbooks available for $9.99 or less.)
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
LeRoy Gresham comes to us as a twelve year old on a trek with his father to Philadelphia just before the outbreak of the American Civil War. He believes he is seeking treatment from a well-known physician for the after effects of injuries suffered when he was struck by bricks falling from a collapsing chimney. Unable to walk, his family gives him blank journals that he then fills with the random observations typical of a well-read and well-educated child of a wealthy southern planter family. LeRoy continues to suffer from his 'injury.' We read his reaction to one treatment after another. He draws us in with his suffering, but more so with his innocent confidence in an eventual cure. His entries give us rare insight into the daily life of a wealthy slave-owning family, everything from the gossip that drives Macon high society, to the simple delights of an unusual fruit dessert. Surprisingly the effects of the blockade are often, in LeRoy's mind, limited to a lack of good ink and wrapping paper from which he often made envelopes for his father's letters. The backdrop of this engaging insight into the Gresham family's daily life is the progress of the Civil War. Now we see through an innocent's eyes how many viewed the cause to save the Southern way of life. LeRoy passed many hours throughout the war with his journals and we pass with him from the dream of victory to the reality of defeat and Union soldiers on the street outside of his Macon mansion. Then, abruptly there is a last entry: "I am perhaps..." The sentence is not finished, but it leaves us with the sad realization that the seventeen year old LeRoy's 'injury' was something far more sinister. Editor Jan Croon has done a masterful and sensitive job of editing LeRoy's journals. Illustrations show us LeRoy's hand and pages from the journals. Footnotes provide appropriate background and commentary to the entries. Theodore Savas, the brilliant mind behind the highly recognized Savas Beatie Publishing company, has clearly taken a very personal interest in the Croon's work and Leroy's story. A noted publisher of Civil War works, he has penned a foreword that speaks to his connection with this very special work.
When he was twelve, LeRoy Wiley Gresham, of Macon, Georgia starts keeping a daily journal (well, as close to it as anyone really ever does). The year is 1860 and he and his father are headed to Philadelphia to consult with leading doctors about LeRoy's medical condition, which local physicians have been unsuccessful in dealing with -- the book contains a medical foreword and afterword that will explain these circumstances better than LeRoy ever does (partially because he doesn't have the whole story). From Philadelphia they return home and to talk of succession -- it's not long before the Confederacy is born and Fort Sumter is fired upon. This is the setting for these journals -- published for the first time this year.
LeRoy was born to be a Southern Gentleman and was raised as such -- and between the War, his age and disease, he never really had an opportunity to examine his upbringing. As such, he is incredibly partisan, shows nothing but contempt for the Union, Lincoln, the Union Army, etc. The language and attitudes he uses toward his family's slaves (and pretty much everyone's slaves) is par for the course during the Civil War, readers need to remember this going on. He is also a pretty astute observer and realist -- when the tide begins to turn for the Confederacy, he's aware and his upfront about it (there are even traces of "I told you so" to his writing when it comes to certain strategies).
Meanwhile, life continues -- people go to school, crops are grown and harvested, babies are born, people die and are married, kids get pets. LeRoy's family were staunch Presbyterians, his father a leader in the local church -- presbytery and synod meetings are also reported on.
For LeRoy, the years after his return from Philadelphia (and those leading up to it, really) are also years of deteriorating health, bouts of pain, and ineffective treatments. Those who put this book together have determined (and it seems only likely) that there are two major health problems going on here -- a horrific leg injury sustained when he was 8 and tuberculosis. Neither did him any favors -- his life wasn't going to be easy just with the injury, but TB made it short. Tracing the worsening of each is tragic -- and LeRoy dies not long after the end of the War.
All of these topics are detailed and recorded -- almost every day -- in a few brief sentences. Sometimes it can be jarring the way he'll go from casualty numbers, to talk about his coughing, to a comment on peach harvests and the book he's reading in a paragraph a little briefer than some of the longer ones in this post. But that's just what was on his mind that day. Sometimes there are strange doodles or other things recorded, lists of Bible questions, practice trials of his own developing signature and other things like that (often with photos included).
The War reporting is going to get the bulk of each reader's attention. Which is completely understandable -- and it gets about half of the space of the book, the other topics compete for the other half of the space. His information (as the wonderful footnotes demonstrate) is frequently mistaken -- and he knows his, and will often speculate about as he reports what the newspapers say. We're used to news stories developing over minutes and hours, LeRoy had to be content with learning about something days after the event, and then still learning details weeks later. His frustration about that is seen occasionally -- especially as te War grinds on and it's harder for newspapers to be printed and delivered (paper itself becomes scarce). At one point there's such an outbreak of smallpox that there's no one available to bring his family their newspaper, so they have to send someone to retrieve it -- LeRoy's utter disgust at that is both hard to believe and completely human. "Fascinating" doesn't come close to reading his perceptions and understanding the events that are history to us - talking about famous battles as they're happening and news is getting out. His account of Sherman's March is incredible - and adds so much perspective to the contemporary reader's own understanding.
Normally, this writing would be something I'd pan and complain about. But this was never intended for publication -- that's clear -- it's a young man's private journal and reads like it. You see a growth in his style, his way of thinking -- and reading. But it isn't an easy read with a strong narrative pulling you along. It's repetitive, full of details that mean only something to him, stupid humor written for an audience of one (which isn't to say that I don't appreciate his wit). Don't expect to enjoy this read, to find a style that will grab you (or really, any style at all). It's authentic -- and not authentic in a "so well researched and told that it might as well be the real thing" way, but in a this is what this person thought and recorded about others' thoughts in the 1860s to himself -- it's completely honest (well, there might be some self-deception/self-aggrandizement at work, but not much).
I grew to really like LeRoy -- his attitude, his quiet faith, his patience, his stupid jokes, his intelligence. You watch someone's life day-to-day for a few years and you almost can't help it. His death -- which I knew was coming before I opened the book, and knew was nigh given the date (and lack of pages left in the book) -- struck me hard. I couldn't believe it, really, but I got emotional in the last couple of entries.
His last entries are followed by the text of his obituary from the Macon Telegraph and a letter that his mother sent to her sister which filled in some details about his last days and condition. That letter is a great touch and helps you see that a lot of what you had learned about LeRoy from his writing was also seen by his family -- it wasn't just LeRoy's self-image. You also see that LeRoy's critical gaze, which is displayed frequently, was a family trait (but pretty understandable in the context)
The effort putting this book together -- transcribing, deciphering, tracing the family members and friends -- the medical research to diagnose LeRoy all these years later) -- I can't fathom. Croon deserves so much more reward than she'll likely ever receive for this. Really, I'm in awe of her work. The Publisher's Preface, Introduction, and Postscript (and aforementioned Medical Foreword/Afterword) are must-reads and will help the reader appreciate LeRoy's own writing and Croon's efforts.
You have never read anything like this -- it will appeal to the armchair historian in you (particularly if you've ever dabbled in being a Civil War buff); it'll appeal to want an idea what everyday life was like 150 years ago; there's a medical case study, too -- this combination of themes is impossible to find anywhere else. This won't be the easiest read you come across this year (whatever year it is that you come across it), but it'll be one of the most compelling.
It feels stupid putting a star rating on this -- but, hey, that's the convention, so...no doubt about it: 5 BIG stars.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher.