Disclaimer: No U.S. Military Personnel were harmed during the making of these fictional reminiscences. No warrior is more forgotten than he who has been left behind by the war department. Most men who have never tasted combat beyond the occasional fistfight on poker night quickly learn to lay low and zip the lip when battlefield stories are unfurled by the Purple Hearters at the dinner table. Except, of course, for our man Jean Shepherd. Fearless in his uncombativeness, he manfully fought his dearth of frontline duty with the weapons he wielded unmatched by even the most decorated dogface: rapid-fire griping and explosive laughter. Jean Shepherd was, and remains, a pervasive part of American culture. His quirky individuality was portrayed for posterity by Jason Robards in the play and film, A Thousand Clowns, written by Shep's close pal, Herb Gardner. Jack Nicholson embodied a Shepherd-like late-night radio talker in The King of Marvin Gardens. While in Network, by Paddy Chayefsky (another of Shep's comic cohorts), the television newscaster beseeches his listeners to open their windows and yell, I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore, an unmistakable echo of Shepherd's radio habit of hurling an invective like a hand grenade out into the nation's air waves. Shepherd was a spiritual father to Garrison Keillor, Daniel Pinkwater, Bill Harley, Paul Krassner and Joe Frank. Tens of thousands of rabid fans stayed up past their bedtime with transistor radios stashed under their pillows to follow Shep's always unpredictable, usually extemporaneous, verbal forays into current events, social mores, idle thoughts, stories about his childhood in northern Indiana (I was this kid, see...), his army days, and his idiosyncratic take on his world-wide travels. Shepherd once bamboozled an innocent public, and gullible publishing world, by promoting a non-existent book (I, Libertine) and author (Frederick R. Ewing), then co-writing it with sci-fi author Theodore Sturgeon. It sold in best-seller numbers. Shepherd wrote nearly two dozen stories for Playboy and even interviewed the Beatles for the magazine. He published several best-selling books of his stories and articles; he appeared at Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, and in hundreds of jam-packed college auditoriums. Shep's Army is the first volume of new Shepherd tales to be published in a quarter century.
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