4 out of 4 stars
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Robbery, murder, drug trafficking, and kidnapping are the types of criminal cases that Donald L. Redden, Ph.D., chronicles in his compelling memoir, Commitment to Courage: The Life and Extraordinary Career of a Veteran FBI Agent. Redden described himself as an adrift young man; "There were two things that kept me going and gave me the direction I needed: Ann and the church." He married Ann in 1964, and after surviving the Vietnam War, his goals included raising a family with her and advancing his career path at General Electric. In 1970, Redden was on track with his career, he and Ann were parents, and a friend from church suggested that he apply to the FBI. Although he was doubtful about the daunting application process, Redden was intrigued. He was accepted and began his training the following October. Meanwhile, Ann was pregnant with their second child.
There was never a dull moment in this 234-page book. At the beginning of the story, Redden shared his family background. His father was a 1944 prisoner of war, which explained his adverse reaction when Redden joined the National Guard. Redden viewed it as a means of "taking control of his destiny," as the threat of the draft weighed heavily on him. Redden detailed his adventures and skillfully balanced recounting successful accolades while humbly sharing how his career took a toll on his marriage and family. The book was professionally edited and contained a single instance of nonborderline profanity; Redden quoted a passenger who was arrested for interfering with flight operations.
My favorite aspect of the book was the way that Redden gave readers an inside glimpse of the cases he investigated, which kept me engaged from start to finish. For example, in a 1979 case known as the Mainline Murders, Redden chronicled the bizarre details of murder victim Susan Reinert and her missing children. He began by explaining how he became involved in the case amid jurisdictional protocol. He shared details about dealing with an ornery state police veteran and unraveling the sordid relationships at the high school were Reinert taught, eventually resulting in the convictions of two suspects. I also appreciated the poignant foreword by Charlie Shor, who was kidnapped and thanked Redden for saving his life.
I found nothing to dislike about this intriguing memoir. While there are a handful of minor punctuation errors, they do not detract from the book as a whole. Sensitive readers should be aware that there are several depictions of violent crime scenes and case-related nonexplicit sexual references.
I'm pleased to rate Commitment to Courage 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend the book to fans of memoirs and true crimes. It is intended for a mature audience.
Commitment to Courage
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