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LDAP and Secure Authentication Techniques


Is there a good how-to(s) or book(s) that describes all of the different
parts that can be used for Secure Network/Application (i.e. mail and/or SQL
database Account) Authentication, and when/why you should use certain
pieces?  Preferably some references that don't presume too much about my
Linux/Unix knowledge level?

E.g., how do ldap, pam, sasl, ssl, nss, etc etc etc all relate/work

I'm just a bit confused (yes, I'm a newbie, so shoot me :) ...