My Life before the World War, 1860-1917: A Memoir

My Life before the World War, 1860-1917: A Memoir

My Life before the World War, 1860-1917: A Memoir

My Life before the World War, 1860-1917: A Memoir

Excerpt

General of the Armies John J. Pershing is clearly a seminal figure not only in the history of the United States and its army, but also of the world in the early twentieth century. Major biographies of Pershing have relied heavily both on his published two-volume autobiographical account My Experiences in the World War (New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1931) and on his unpublished “Autobiography of General of the Armies John J. Pershing” that rests in his papers. While his published memoir is readily available to any interested readers or researchers, those wishing to dig into his unpublished account must travel to Washington and spend considerable time at the Manuscript Division’s reading room. This edited version of General Pershing’s autobiographical memoir of his years prior to the U.S. entrance into World War I in April 1917 and his appointment to head the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in France is intended to provide this invaluable document and its unequaled perspective on John J. Pershing to a wider audience.

The Writing of the Memoir

After Pershing completed his tour as U.S. Army chief of staff on 13 September 1924 and retired from the army, he still had his consuming work as chairman of the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) and his many official activities as general of the armies to keep him busy, along with his on-again, off-again work on his personal memoir. President Calvin Coolidge then asked him late in 1924 to head a diplomatic effort to resolve the Tacna-Arica dispute between Peru and Chile that had festered since 1883. He accepted this mission but finally had to give it up due to ill health after spending six months in Arica (August 1925–January 1926). Once recovered, Pershing again seriously resumed work on an autobiography that emphasized his wartime role. He solicited information and stories from colleagues he had known in his earlier years as he drafted his account. In late October 1926, he wrote to Judge . . .

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