- When I was a teenager, I read every single mystery Agatha Christie ever wrote. I always thought she had a wonderful ability to create an atmosphere — one that gave her readers a sense of a time and place, especially that of England during the time between the two world wars. More importantly, her plots were often brilliant, so that it was a great mental exercise to try to outguess her. Over time, I began to learn enough about her tricks that I could begin to distinguish which clues were significant and which were red herrings. However, even after I gained that skill, it took a while to master the ability to string those still-ambiguous clues together to identify the guilty party. So I was very proud of myself when I finally was able to do that, even if I couldn’t do it every time. But then I read a review of one of her novels, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. The reviewer explained that Christie had done something in that book that no other mystery writer had ever done before, something I won’t disclose in case any of you ever want to read that book. But in that review, the author revealed who murdered Roger Ackroyd, and there was no warning that a spoiler was coming. So I was disappointed to be robbed of the chance to figure things out for myself. However, when I read the novel after seeing that review, I discovered that it provided a whole new way to enjoy her book. Now that I was in on the secret, I could see the clever ways she scattered both real clues and distractions throughout the book. That proved to be an interesting exercise in learning writing technique...
- "Franz Jägerstätter who was a farmer living in a small town in Austria near the German border at the start of World War II. He had had somewhat of a wild youth, but in his twenties he enrolled in religious classes and his life was suddenly and totally changed. In 1938, when Austrians were asked to vote on whether their country should be annexed by Germany, Franz spoke out strongly against the plan..." and other illustrations
- ("One day there was a limousine parked along a highway. It had apparently overheated. But, no one stopped to help. Finally, after several hours, Robert Wise saw the troubled limo and stopped to help. The driver asked him if he would drive to the next town and call his boss about his predicament. 'No problem,' Wise responded. A short time later, Wise returned and told the driver he had made the call...")