Shepherd Book was abused as a boy, and lived on the street for a while. He wasn’t born under the name Shepherd Book, BTW. He joined up with the independence movement, and volunteered to be a spy on the Alliance. He was an officer until he led a brilliant defeat, after which he was discharged. He later lived in a monastery for a time, and became the preacher we all know:-)
TL;DR: Book’s official status within the Alliance (and therefore on his ident chip) was that of a retired Alliance commander. This would result in VIP treatment at most Alliance facilities.
I’ll outline his entire known history in the spoiler tags below. Most of this is outlined in the comic “The Shepherd’s Tale“, which is essentially Book reflecting back on his life while dying at Haven.
Originally named Henry Evans, the man we know as Derrial Book was born on a border planet to an abusive father. At the age of ten, he ran away from home and became adept at survival on the streets. He eventually garnered some reputation as a thief & criminal, but ended up joining the growing Independence Movement.
Life as a Browncoat
In the four years before his Alliance assignment, Evans quickly became known for his vicious skills in combat – easily (and brutally) taking down entire squads of Alliance soldiers during missions. When the Browncoats began looking for a long-term operative who could infiltrate the Alliance military as a double agent, Evans volunteered. He needed a new identity, so he murdered a random citizen named Derrial Book and took that name as his own.
Life in the Alliance
Once in the Alliance, Book began a “meteoric” rise through the ranks. He was seen as totally committed to the cause and earned a reputation for using savage tactics against the Browncoats, quickly becoming known as a master interrogator. Because of his rising rank & influence, Book found himself increasingly able to both damage the Alliance plans as well as cover up losses or information leaks. He quickly became a vital asset for the Browncoats, but also one of their most guarded secrets.
Book eventually found himself in command (or perhaps XO) of the IAV Cortez, an Alliance cruiser which oversaw an operation intended to end the Unification War in a single stroke. Book himself was in charge of the operation, which involved committing massive resources into striking multiple targets at once. Due to Book’s involvement, however, the operation was actually a huge ambush. Numerous forces were lost, including the total destruction of the IAV Alexander and all 4000 crew. Considered one of the largest defeats in Alliance history, the entire operation was swept under the rug and Derrial Book was quietly discharged from Alliance service.
Life at the Abbey
With the Independent Movement crushed soon after, Book wasn’t sure what to do with himself. He wandered the outer territories, weary of his life and drowning his sorrows in alcohol. At one point, he finds himself at a church and comes to see religion as a way to atone for the many people he had killed throughout his life. It apparently worked, as he eventually ended up at theSouthdown Abbey on Persephone. Book finally found peace tending the Abbey’s garden, but knew he couldn’t stay there indefinitely.
Life on Serenity
After an unknown amount of time at the Abbey (but presumably several years), Book decided to leave and get back out into the galaxy. The Abbey had access to the Cortex, and Book had tired of watching others suffer along the rim. He announced his intention to carry the Lord’s message out to others, and this leads us directly to his introduction in S01E01 “Serenity”.
As for your specific question, his ident chip reflected his official status with the Alliance – a retired Captain or Commander. Especially in a medical situation like that, a status like that would require any Alliance officer to render immediate assistance.
Henry Evans had a troubled childhood and was a criminal for a time before enlisting with the independence movement. As a member of The Independence he volunteered to spy on The Alliance. He killed a man named Derrial Book assumed his identity to enlisted in the Alliance Military. While still working as a spy for The Independence he quickly worked up the Alliance ranks to become a prominent officer. At a key point during the war he intentionally lost a major battle dealing a crushing blow to the alliance and leading to him being discharged. This loss was so crushing that the alliance made a point to wipe all record of it out. Meaning on paper shepherd Book is nothing but a retired prominent Alliance officer. After being discharged he “found god in a bowl of soup” while at a soup kitchen and decided to join an Abby. He eventually left and ended up boarding Serenity.
To the crew of Serenity, Derrial Book’s past was a mystery. He indicated early on that he was a shepherd who had been living in theSouthdown Abbey and that he never married. In truth, “Derrial” was not even the shepherd’s real name, but rather the name of a man he had killed.
Book, whose birth name was Henry Evans, lived as a young boy in dread of his highly abusive father. He would listen to music to take himself to a peaceful place in his mind, only to be beaten. He finally chose to leave home, but after ten years had merely established himself as a successful thief, adept at avoiding law enforcement. He was then recruited by the Independence Movement, a representative of which having been impressed at his excellent combat potential. In four years he honed his fighting skills, easily defeating heavily-armed federal agents singlehandedly. Evans was not known among his Independence peers to attend their meetings, but he showed up for one and there he volunteered to take part in a highly-sensitive mole operation. Since the Independence organizers had learned that the Alliancewas creating warships, they plotted to plant a long-term mole to rise through the ranks of the Alliance and subvert them at every turn. Henry’s left eye was extracted and replaced with a biorobotic camera and transmitter, which would provide excellent surveillance. To join the Alliance, he needed a new identity. So he lured an unsuspecting young man named Derrial Book into an alley, murdered him with a garrote, and took on this name permanently.
In four short years, he orchestrated a “meteoric” rise through the Alliance ranks and was selected for the officer corps from the law enforcement on Jiangyin. He utilized brutal beatings on captured Independence members—men and women alike—which impressed his superiors. After six years, he was an officer aboard the I.A.V. Cortez, where he directed the final movement of an Alliance operation to ambush Independence transports on a massive scale: six installations on different planets and at least one space-borne transport convoy were raided by Alliance forces at the same moment, but each was ambushed. It was the “single greatest disaster in Alliance history”. The most prominent loss was the destruction of the I.A.V. Alexander and the loss of all 4,000 souls aboard; elsewhere, about 300 soldiers were captured. Book was immediately discharged without trial and thrown into an escape vessel in disgrace.
He lived as a derelict for six years after until he experienced an epiphany about his place in the universe while staring into a bowl of chicken soup. He was suddenly seized with purpose, and joined the Southdown Abbeywhere he remained for a decade, until he finally chose to leave the abbey—on good terms and with encouragement—and become a missionary. He then joined the crew of Serenity.
Book frequently made references to Christian theology and consulted and quoted the Bible. But Book later expressed concern that he was being corrupted by living on Serenity and he left the ship and moved to the planet Haven. There he was killed by an Alliance soldier sent to destroy Haven after Serenity managed to shake an Alliance assassin known only as “the Operative”. However, he was not a passive figure in the events leading up to his death; he defended Haven and shot down the A.V.-Sparrow that attacked the settlement.After taking down the ship, Mal told Book that he did the right thing, to which Book replied, “Coming from you, that means almost nothing.”
“I don’t care what you believe. Just believe it!”~ Book’s dying words to Mal
Meng said, A man is willing a home for Her, A woman is willing a family for Him. First line of the poem, indicates the man, talking about the home. Second and third line talk about the way of the couple.
Sporting house 妓院（不是体育室）
Dead president 美钞（不是死了的总统）
Dry goods 纺织品 谷物（不是干货）
Heart man 换心人（不是有心人）
Criminal lawyer 刑事律师（不是犯罪的律师）
Capital idea 好主意（不是资本主义思想）
Familiar talk 庸俗的交谈（不是熟悉的谈话）
Black art 妖术（不是黑色艺术）
Black stranger 完全陌生的人(不是陌生的黑人)
White coal （作动力来源用的）水
Red tape 官僚习气（不是红色带子）
Green hand 新手
Blue stocking 女学者，女才子（不是蓝色长筒袜）
China policy 对华政策（不是中华政策）
Chinese dragon 麒麟（不是中国龙）
American beauty 一种玫瑰，名叫美丽动人（不是美国美女）
English disease 软骨病（不是英国病）
Indian summer 愉快宁静的晚年（不是印度的夏日）
Greek gift 害人的礼品（不是希腊的礼物）
Spanish athlete 吹牛的人（不是西班牙的运动员）
French chalk 滑石粉（不是法国粉笔）
Pull ones leg 开玩笑（不是拉后腿）
In ones birthday suit 赤身裸体（不是穿着生日礼服）
Eat ones words 收回前言（不是食言）
an apple of love西红柿（不是“爱情之果”）
be taken in受骗，上当（不是“被接纳”）
bring down the house博得全场喝彩（不是“推倒房子”）
eat one&0#39;s words收回前言（不是“食言”）
handwriting on the wall不祥之兆（不是“大字报”）
have a fit勃然大怒（不是“试穿”）
have the heart to do（用于否定句）忍心做……不是“有心做”或“有意做”）
Dana, one of my america friends, came to China and traveled in several cities. In every cities, he got great passion from the students. He is a religious Christian.
One of my classmates asked him, why you come to China. He said, everyone is like a mirror, which can reflect the light of God. We could help others just like the mirror reflecting the light.
He does help the students a lot in Springfield, He spends 25 hours to help the student, even 35 hours a week, that is to say, 5 hours per day. That why he can receive the great passion here. I don’t think if other professor who also comes from Springfield can receive better than him.
Common people, but great man.
Since I am not a Christian, but I want to thank him.
Today is Chinese dragon boat (Duanwu) festival. Because of the time difference, I called my family in the morning and they asked me how to spend this festival. I told them I will buy some rice dumplings (Zongzi) this afternoon.
After a nap, I drove to Seoul oriental market located Campbell Ave. I looked all round the shop, I couldn’t find it. So I asked the boss (Korean) if they have rice dumplings, the boss murmured, “Rice dumplings??” One of the staff (American guy) answered, “Zongzi? For the dragon boat?”
“Yes, for the dragon boat day.” I said.
“We used to have it, but it is seasonal goods, we sold it out. Today is the dragon boat day?” asked by the staff.
“Some kinds of food with bamboo leave outside? We have bamboo leave sold here, you can buy some to make it yourself.” The boss said.
If today were yesterday, maybe I would make Zongzi myself. I had to leave this shop and drove to another Asian food and gift shop. I asked the staff where I can get the rice dumplings; they said they don’t know what it is. I explained that it is made of rice and with bamboo leave outside and should be eaten on Dragon boat festival which is on May 5th based on Chinese Lunar calendar. And I thought Korean should know this day and I told them. But she told that May 5th is the Children’s day in Korean! And she took me the book shelf and introduced some Chinese food books and let me find the English name for Zongzi. I tried to find the name from the books, but I failed. I had to look for it around the shop myself. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it.
I knew she also couldn’t eat Zongzi this year. I was a little disappointed.
Following is the introduction of Zongzi that I copied from Wikipedia. Maybe I should learn it before I went to the market.
Zongzi (or zong) (Chinese: 粽子) is a traditional Chinese food, made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. They are cooked by steaming or boiling. They are known in Japanese as chimaki. Laotians, Thais, and Cambodians (known as Nom Asom) also have similar traditional dishes. In the Western world, they are also known as rice dumplings or Chinese tamales. In Indonesia, they are known as bakcang or bacang (Chinese: 肉粽; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: bah-chàng), a loanword from Hokkien, a Chinese dialect that is commonly used among Indonesian-Chinese besides Mandarin. Along the same lines, zongzi are more popularly known as machang in the among the Chinese Filipinos.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)