This interview was conducted in 1973 with Colonel Benjamin Wilson Venable (1894–1980), who served as a captain in the same 45th Regiment in which F. Scott Fitzgerald was a lieutenant. Venable's lively recollections of Fitzgerald and Zelda Sayre in Camp Sheridan outside Montgomery, Alabama, offer insight into daily life and military protocol at the time; his claim that Fitzgerald ranked highest in IQ in the regiment helps substantiate the belief that Fitzgerald's intelligence has been highly underrated—something as true today as it was during the years Elmore spent working on his book-length study of The Great Gatsby from which this is an excerpt. It is published with the permission of both the Elmore and Venable families. We also thank John Kuhnle for his work on the manuscript.

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