The Valley Of Fear (book review)

I don’t often add fictional books into my reading rotation, but when I do I want something excellent. I’ve always been fond of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, but The Valley of Fear is a cut above! 

Doyle was a medical doctor. Probably because of my medical/science background, I’ve always found Dr. Doyle’s scientific observations through the eyes and brain of his first-rate detective to be quite intriguing. I also appreciate how Doyle gives his readers all of the same evidence that Sherlock Holmes observes so that the solution becomes an enlightening “Aha!” moment. 

The Valley Of Fear had an added dimension to it. The main part of the crime is solved fairly early in the story, but then one of the characters hands Dr. Watson a written narrative that turns out to be the backdrop to the commission of the crime. Dr. Watson then spends almost all of the remainder of the book telling the story that was given to him. So the crime is committed, the crime is solved, and then we read an in-depth account of what led to the crime. Just as with all of Doyle’s stories, all of the clues are readily available in this narrative, which makes the “Aha!” culmination of this behind-the-scenes narrative all the more satisfying. 

This book is a wonderful way to either start your Sherlock Holmes reading adventure or continue your enjoyment of these wonderfully-rich stories. 

9 Quotes From Theodore Roosevelt’s Autobiography

Theodore Roosevelt never pulled his punches! And you could never misunderstand exactly what he was saying. Check out my review of his autobiography by clicking here, and then enjoy some of these straight-shooter quotes from TR. 

“With soul of flame and temper of steel we must act as our coolest judgment bids us. We must exercise the largest charity towards the wrong-doer that is compatible with relentless war against the wrong-doing. We must be just to others, generous to others, and yet we must realize that it is a shameful and a wicked thing not to withstand oppression with high heart and ready hand. With gentleness and tenderness there must go dauntless bravery and grim acceptance of labor and hardship and peril.” 

“The necessity of character as the chief factor in any man’s success—a teaching in which I now believe as sincerely as ever, for all the laws that the wit of man can devise will never make a man a worthy citizen unless he has within himself the right stuff, unless he has self-reliance, energy, courage, the power of insisting on his own rights and the sympathy that makes him regardful of the rights of others.” 

“I never won anything without hard labor and the exercise of my best judgment and careful planning and working long in advance.” 

“For I then held, and now hold, the belief that a man’s first duty is to pull his own weight and to take care of those dependent upon him; and I then believed, and now believe, that the greatest privilege and greatest duty for any man is to be happily married, and that no other form of success or service, for either man or woman, can be wisely accepted as a substitute or alternative.” 

“I did not then believe, and I do not now believe, that any man should ever attempt to make politics his only career. It is a dreadful misfortune for a man to grow to feel that his whole livelihood and whole happiness depend upon his staying in office. Such a feeling prevents him from being of real service to the people while in office, and always puts him under the heaviest strain of pressure to barter his convictions for the sake of holding office.” 

“No man can lead a public career really worth leading, no man can act with rugged independence in serious crises, nor strike at great abuses, nor afford to make powerful and unscrupulous foes, if he is himself vulnerable in his private character. … He must be clean of life, so that he can laugh when his public or his private record is searched; and yet being clean of life will not avail him if he is either foolish or timid. He must walk warily and fearlessly, and while he should never brawl if he can avoid it, he must be ready to hit hard if the need arises. Let him remember, by the way, that the unforgivable crime is soft hitting. Do not hit at all if it can be avoided; but never hit softly.” 

“I am glad to see wrong-doers punished. The punishment is an absolute necessity from the standpoint of society; and I put the reformation of the criminal second to the welfare of society. But I do desire to see the man or woman who has paid the penalty and who wishes to reform given a helping hand—surely every one of us who knows his own heart must know that he too may stumble, and should be anxious to help his brother or sister who has stumbled. When the criminal has been punished, if he then shows a sincere desire to lead a decent and upright life, he should be given the chance, he should be helped and not hindered; and if he makes good, he should receive that respect from others which so often aids in creating self-respect—the most invaluable of all possessions.” 

“My duty was to stand with every one while he was right, and to stand against him when he went wrong.” 

“We must ever judge each individual on his own conduct and merits, and not on his membership in any class, whether that class be based on theological, social, or industrial considerations.” 

More quotes coming soon! You can subscribe to this blog to be notified when more quotes are published, and you can also check out the quotes I publish daily on Tumblr. 

Porn Destroys Women

Fight The New DrugWatching pornography in the quiet of your home is not a victimless crime.

Whenever you click to watch that video, another woman or child is further enslaved in a nightmarish life. You can set them free by refusing to watch that video!

In Cedar Springs, I invite you to join me on Friday, May 8, as we hear from Fight The New Drug about the dangers of porn, and what we can do to free ourselves, and to free these women and children …

Upside (book review)

Have you ever heard how a TV news producer decides what the lead story will be? Or how a managing editor decides which stories get the front page of the newspaper? It comes down to this: “If it bleeds, it leads.” Sad, but too often true. With all of this negative news leading, Dr. Bradley R.E. Wright’s book Upside: Surprising Good News About the State of Our World is indeed surprisingly good news!

Dr. Wright notes that sociologist Joel Best “classifies the different types of bad statistics as follows: some numbers are bad to begin with; some numbers get bad as they are passed along; and some numbers are chosen because they are bad.” In other words, there’s just a lot of bad news out there!

But despite all of this negative press, people around the world are surprisingly upbeat. That’s because when a sociologist like Dr. Wright gets a hold of all of these statistics, he can put them into the proper perspective. He looks at the data on a variety of topics:

  • Personal finances
  • Education
  • Health
  • Crime and war
  • Marriage and divorce
  • The environment

“The trouble with this country is that there are too many people going about saying ‘the trouble with this country is….’” — Sinclair Lewis

Do bad things happen? Yes. Are there some issues that still need to be addressed? Absolutely. Is the world ready to collapse all around us? It doesn’t appear so. Christians should have the clearest and keenest worldview because it’s a biblical worldview. Dr. Wright does an excellent job of helping the reader find the perspective that is realistic, yet balanced.

Economist professor Julian Simons summarized it this way —

Almost every economic and social change or trend points in the positive direction, as long as we view the matter over a reasonably long period of time. That is, all aspects of material human welfare are improving in the aggregate.

I am a Bethany House book reviewer.

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