My father gave me a copy of this book when I was a mere lad of eight. Quite naturally I found the title somewhat unmanly and resolved never to read such a fey book. But one night, when I had reached the venerable age of ten, in a not unusual fit of insomnia, I took it up. I was captivated and sat up all night reading. As my father came up the stairs the following morning to get me and brother up, I was finishing the final chapter. I wept as Chad sent his old dog Jack home before riding to the West. My father sat beside my bed and told me he had reacted the same way when his mother had given him the book in 1931. He too had resolved never to read it, but had a few years later. The novel created a bond between us, one that will never be sundered. I have now read that book at least a dozen times and continue to urge it upon my own sons who can't get beyond the title. I hope someday they will take it up, for it is a book that transcends generations and drills to the heart of the divisions that still threaten this republic of ours a century and a half after the Civil War. It is a classic American tale, at once a coming-of-age story, a study of a time long past, a tale full of a hearfelt love for a paradise now lost to our empty culture of consumerism, electronic alienation, and spiritual despair. I would urge anyone who still reads to pick it up and enter a world of honor and betrayal, beauty and horror, chivalry and savagery. As a postscript, I found a first edition of The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come in a bookstore near the Chesapeake and am harboring it until I give it to my father for his 85th birthday.