General Fox Conner

Pershing’s Chief of Operations and Eisenhower’s Mentor

Steven Rabalais

John J. Pershing considered Fox Conner to have been "a brilliant solider” and "one of the finest characters our Army has ever produced.” During World War I, General Conner served as chief of operations for the American Expeditionary Force. Pershing told Conner: "I could have spared any other man in the A.E.F. better than you.”
Date Published :
August 2021
Publisher :
Series :
Leadership in Action
Illustration :
16 pages of photos
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781612003979
Pages : 320
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : Available
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781636240503
Pages : 320
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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"What a great book that covers a great soldier and general." — Huntington B. "Hunt” Downer, Jr., Major General, USA, Retired

Winner of the 2016 Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award.

Fox Conner presents the portrait of the quintessential man behind the scenes in U.S. military history. John J. Pershing considered Fox Conner to have been “a brilliant solider” and “one of the finest characters our Army has ever produced.” During World War I, General Conner served as chief of operations for the American Expeditionary Force in Europe. Pershing told Conner: “I could have spared any other man in the A.E.F. better than you.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower viewed Fox Conner, as “the outstanding soldier of my time.” In the early 1920s, Conner transformed his protégé Eisenhower from a struggling young officer on the verge of a court martial into one of the American army’s rising stars. Eisenhower acknowledged Fox Conner as “the one more or less invisible figure to whom I owe an incalculable debt.” This book presents the first complete biography of this significant, but now forgotten, figure in American military history.

In addition to providing a unique insider’s view into the operations of the American high command during World War I, Fox Conner also tells the story of an interesting life. Conner felt a calling to military service, although his father had been blinded during the Civil War. From humble beginnings in rural Mississippi, Conner became one of the army’s intellectuals. During the 1920s, when most of the nation slumbered in isolationism, Conner predicted a second world war. As the nation began to awaken to new international dangers in the 1930s, President Roosevelt offered Fox Conner the position of army chief of staff, which he declined. Poor health prevented his participation in World War II, while others whom he influenced, including Eisenhower, Patton, and Marshall, went on to fame.

About The Author

Steven Rabalais has had a lifelong interest in military history and in the biographies of lesser-known, but historically significant, figures. In his first published work, Rabalais combines these interests with years of extensive analysis of material available at the National Archives, the State of Mississippi archives, West Point, the Eisenhower Presidential Library, and numerous other sources to present the first full-length biography of General Fox Conner—one of the most significant, but largely forgotten, American military officers of the early twentieth century.

Mr. Rabalais obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Journalism degree from Louisiana State University in 1982 and his Juris Doctor in 1985. He has practiced law for more than thirty years and is a founding partner of Rabalais & Hebert of Lafayette, Louisiana.


List of Maps

Chapter 1: Calhoun County
Chapter 2: West Point
Chapter 3: Biding Time
Chapter 4: Getting Started
Chapter 5: The War within the War
Chapter 6: Fighting with the French
Chapter 7: Our Seat at the Table
Chapter 8: Home Again
Chapter 9: Unlike Ike
Chapter 10: Panama
Chapter 11: Climbing Their Ladders
Chapter 12: Third Time the Charm?
Chapter 13: The Zenith of Fox Conner



"Author and historian Steven Rabalais provides a compelling narrative account of the life of General Fox Conner, one of the most influential, but least known, figures in American military history. Conner was not only one of the leading combat planners and leaders in World War One, he insightfully identified the young talent that would lead the nation on the battlefields of Europe in World War Two. Rabalais finally gives Conner his due, in a biography that is both dramatic and compelling. This biography not only puts Conner on the map, it highlights Rabalais as one of the truly gifted historians of the American military."

- Mark Perry, journalist and author of nine books

"Fox Conner is largely unknown today, yet he was one of General Pershing’s top advisors during World War I. Steve Rabalais rescues General Conner from obscurity and shows how his impact as a military leader extended beyond the Great War, and influenced future commanders like Dwight D. Eisenhower. A well-written and important book."

- Mitchell Yockelson Author, Forty-Seven Days: How Pershing’s Warriors Came of Age to Defeat the German Army in World War I, and Borrowed Soldiers: Americans under British Command"

"General Fox Conner is a figure from American military history that more people ought to know. I encourage anyone with an interest in well written (and thoroughly researched) works of history to read Steven Rabalais' new book on General Conner."

- Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump and numerous works of history including The Generals: Patton, MacArthur, Marshall, and the Winning of World War II and A Storm in Flanders: The Ypres Salient, 1914-1918 Tragedy and Triumph on the Western Front.

“Steven Rabalais’ biography of Fox Conner is an excellent piece of historical writing. Conner was a great behind-the-scenes general who served as General Black Jack Pershing's chief of operations in the First World War and was the mentor and tutor of George C. Marshall, George S. Patton, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. In 1964 Eisenhower told an interviewer that "in sheer ability and character, [Fox Conner] was the outstanding soldier of my time." Rabalais tells the story of General Conner's professional and personal life exceptionally well. . . . This is a ripping tale, and anyone interested in American military history will find it a treasure.”

- Karl Roider, Alumni Professor Emeritus, Louisiana State University

“What a great book that covers a great soldier and general. I read it in a weekend, as once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down! General Fox Conner should be on the recommended reading list for all military officers and, more particularly, a “must-read” for those destined for a staff assignment in a multi-national command or headquarters. We learn from history, and if we forget the history, we lose.”

- Huntington B. “Hunt” Downer, Jr., Major General, USA, Retired.

"presents the first complete biography of this significant, but mostly forgotten, figure in American military history."

- West Point Grad News

“…gives an interesting insider’s perspective on the political and personality clashes of the First World War…with an easy and attractive style of writing.”

- Miniature Wargames

“I have just completed my first reading of your work on MG Conner. I say my first reading knowing I will read it again more studiously having on my first reading found it flowing with the momentum of a novel, however constrained by the realities of the actual events over time, such that I could not stop my reading to ponder and fully assimilate the many fascinating confluences of this great man’s life and career. MG Conner has certainly not received the recognition he deserves. I thank you for your excellent book which hopefully will have (should have) the popular appeal to create a significantly more widely held appreciation for MG Conner’s considerable influence upon the history of the United States of America and the world.”

- Dennis I. Wright RADM, MC, USN (ret)

“Fox Conner was an excellent soldier in his own right, but his mentorship of future General of the Army and President Dwight D. Eisenhower makes him a key figure in American military history. In a 1964 interview, Ike said of Conner: “In sheer ability and character, he was the outstanding soldier of my time.” (p. 249) Author Rabelais does an excellent job of relating Conner’s significant military contributions in this book, and it is highly recommended.”

- The Journal of America’s Military Past

“General Fox Conner is a well-researched, and well-written attempt to shed light on the role staff officers play in enabling success on the battlefield… In General Fox Conner, Rabalais not only provides an in-depth account of the general’s life, but highlights the crucial role military staffs, and in particular, the Operations Section of the American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F.), played in shaping American military policy and strategy… General Fox Conner is a must read for anyone interested in American military history and the United States’ involvement in World War I.”

- David Poe, Deputy Director, Pershing Foundation

“This biography of Fox Conner brings to life a forgotten soldier who, albeit behind the scenes, was the most influential American officer of the first half of the 20th century… Conner was a tactician, an intense student, instructor, theoretician, mentor, and far-reaching planner. He deserves more prominence than he has received and deserves attention from every Great War student.”

- Roads to the Great War

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