Pershing, John J(oseph) 1860-1948

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PERSHING, John J(oseph) 1860-1948


Male. Born September 13, 1860, in Laclede, MO; died July 15, 1948, in Washington, DC; son of John Fletcher and Ann Elizabeth (Thompson) Pershing; married Helen Warren, January 26, 1905; children: four. Education: Missouri Normal School, B.A., 1880; West Point Military Academy, graduated 1886; University of Nebraska, J.D., 1893.


U.S. Army general and educator. Taught in country schools, c. 1880s; U.S. Army, 1886-1921, served in campaigns against Native Americans, in Spanish-American War, World War I, and military command posts in Philippines, Mexico, and Manchuria, becoming chief of staff.


Military: Received Silver Star for bravery in Cuba; named General of the Armies by U.S. Congress upon retirement.


A Complete History of the World War: General Pershing's Own Story of the Operation of the American Expeditionary Forces in France and Belgium, C. Thomas Company (Chicago, IL), 1919.

General Pershing's Official Story of the American Expeditionary Forces in France, Sun Sales Corporation (New York, NY), 1919.

General Pershing's Story of the American Army in France, J. H. Eggers (New York, NY), 1919.

(Author of introduction) John McAuley Palmer, Washington, Lincoln, Wilson; Three War Statesmen, Doubleday, Doran & Company (New York, NY), 1930.

My Experiences in the World War, Frederick A. Stokes (New York, NY), 1931, published with foreword by Frank E. Vandiver as My Experiences in the First World War, Da Capo Press (New York, NY), 1995.


General John J. Pershing, also known as "Black Jack," was one of the most celebrated leaders in the American military during the early twentieth century. From Cuba to Tokyo to France to the Philippines, Pershing was a distinguished soldier who was an expert at warfare. Rising in the ranks somewhat slowly, he was officially recognized by President Theodore Roosevelt as a military leader, and he went on to surpass more than 900 other soldiers who outranked him when he was made brigadier general of the U.S. Army.

My Experiences in the World War contains Pershing's memoirs of World War One. T. H. Thomas, reviewing the book for American History Review, called it "a mixture of controversy and apologia" and criticized the "distrustful aloofness" which, the critic maintained, makes the book "curiously remote and alien." Other reviewers, such as Outlook's John Bakeless, found the memoir to be "surprisingly good, and very important." Bakeless recommended the book for those interested in American military affairs because "it tells more than has ever been known about the fight behind the front with our own Allies." Charles Seymour in the Yale Review stated that "the style is that of a military report, enlivened by excerpts from the General's diary and from correspondence which is often of the first importance." Seymour praised Pershing's humility, his confidence, and the pride he felt as the Allies triumphed in World War I.



Smyth, Donald, Guerrilla Warrior: The Early Life of John J. Pershing, Scribner's (New York, NY), 1973.

Smyth, Donald, Pershing: General of the Armies, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1986.

Vandiver, Frank E., Black Jack: The Life and Times of John J. Pershing, 2 volumes, Texas A & M University Press (College Station, TX), 1977.


American History Review, January, 1932, T. H. Thomas, review of My Experiences in the World War, p. 1150.

Booklist, June, 1931, p. 449.

Books, April 26, 1931, p. 1.

Boston Transcript, April 29, 1931, p. 2.

Catholic World, October, 1931, p. 115.

New Republic, July 29, 1931, p. 560.

New York Herald Tribune, April 10, 1931.

Outlook, May 6, 1931, John Bakeless, review of My Experiences in the World War, p. 750.

Saturday Review of Literature, April 25, 1931, p. 769.

Times Literary Supplement, June 18, 1931, p. 475.

U.S. News and World Report, March 16, 1998, Gerald Parshall, "John J. Pershing: The Cavalryman," p. 52.

Yale Review, summer, 1931, Charles Seymour, review of My Experiences in the World War, p. 800.


Arlington National Cemetery Web site, (May 19, 2003), "John J. 'Black Jack' Pershing."*