I grew up in southern California, served as a Mormon missionary in German-speaking Switzerland, earned a degree in Greek and philosophy from Brigham Young University (where I had begun as a mathematics major), married a young woman from Colorado, studied in Jerusalem for six months and then in Cairo for four years, finished a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA, and raised three sons. My three favorite topics are religion, history, and politics. I’m passionate about certain places whose grandeur utterly transports me (notable among them the Berner Oberland in Switzerland; the Dolomites, in northern Italy; and the Canadian Rockies).