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Reviews Written by
Wayne Cooper "Canoneer" (North Canada)

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Murderous Tyneside: The Executed of the Twentieth Century
Murderous Tyneside: The Executed of the Twentieth Century
by John J. Eddleston
Edition: Hardcover
5 used & new from CDN$ 22.48

4.0 out of 5 stars 26 sad & pointless murders nicely reviewed.., Aug. 18 2013
This review is for the hardcover edition measuring 9 1/2 X 6 1/4 having 256 pages and 8 B/W period photo pages.
Covering some 26 nearly completely unknown cases within the confines of Tyneside this collection initially promised very little....what with little more than basic 'nothing but the facts' and with 26 cases pressed into 250 odd do the math...9 pages average.
Despite this and the fact that the author does none of the contemporary re-viewing of cases and speculating what injustices might have been way or the other, this book is SURPRISINGLY entertaining.
Mostly, as one would expect back in the dirty days when life was a little cheaper and alcohol was as well, many murders were alcohol-fueled and often were about that oldest of motives.....a woman.
These cases are almost exclusively about the tawdry underbelly of it's most thinly disguised state.
Alcohol and jealousy probably constitute 75 % of the cases in this book and yet, as I said already....the book is very entertaining..I'm not sure why but I suspect it's a case of 'There but for the grace of God...go I".
Highly recommended for a quick no-depth true crime read.

From the Somme to the Armistice: The Memoirs of Captain Stormont Gibbs, M.C.
From the Somme to the Armistice: The Memoirs of Captain Stormont Gibbs, M.C.
by Charles Cobden Stormont Gibbs
Edition: Hardcover
9 used & new from CDN$ 54.81

5.0 out of 5 stars A touching first hand account of WW1's greatest battles....Somme and the third Battle of Ypres, Aug. 15 2013
This review is for the hardcover edition measuring 9 1/2 X 6 1/4 having 206 pages and lots of period photos scattered throughout the book.
This is both a delightfully charming and naive book and a scathing rebuke of the upper echelon commanders.
Stormont Gibbs, the author,....a second lieutenant when his service began in 1916 was fresh from public school...and all the young man's shenanigans that go with that.
Thrown into battle at one of Britain's toughest and mismanaged battles..the Somme.
His assessment, in the form of direct diary entries are both incredibly insightful for such a young and unbloodied soldier, and aided and updated by Richard Devonald-Lewis' analysis of the greater situation provide us with an astoundingly 'living' testimony to life on the front in WW2.
Trenches......the bane of the soldier, were so impossible to maintain in Belgium that mostly the lived in old shell holes and survived as best they could....cold, wet and miserable with the shells constantly bursting overhead and death around every corner.
The author goes on sorties with the intention of having his squad renew, dig or extend existing trenches and gets lost in a treeless forest of mud and dead bodies.
The horror of it is well known and many books have been written but often written by poseurs who spent time in the rear....and Captain Gibbs has absolutely no use for them.
Similarly he seems to understand,....somewhat rare for the times, the plight of the battle-weary and shell-shocked and rather than shoot them as cowards he understands their situation....albeit without the power to change anything.
Incredibly touching and real this is a must-read if one is to begin to understand the machinations of an often mismanages and poorly led war.
The author is also however, capable of understanding the plight of his superiors and the constraints they were under and thanks to some impartial analysis by Mr Devonald-Levis we see how blinkered thinking and planning more often than not cost Britain thousands of young lives.
Very highly recommended.

Everest: Summit of Achievement
Everest: Summit of Achievement
by The Royal Geographic Society
Edition: Hardcover
13 used & new from CDN$ 22.12

5.0 out of 5 stars The FINEST book I've ever seen on none!, Aug. 15 2013
This review is for the hardcover edition measuring 113/4 X 12 having 252 pages and absolutely JAM PACKED with the most gorgeous photos of Everest I have yet seen.
I am a fan and have been a fan for many years of climbers and climbing books.
Years ago I had the opportunity to get a personally signed photo of Edmond Hillary and it is among my most treasured possessions.
This book is, as far as I am concerned, the ULTIMATE source of information on Everest and the many climbs and attempts since early days.
Covering all the climbers who have or had attempted Everest culminating in Hillary and Tenzing's ultimate success.
I have many books on Everest but sadly most of them are really not much more than glorified picture books.
I purchased this one sight unseen and frankly I had expected much the same except for the Royal Geographical name.
As the main sponsor, for many years of all things exploration I had a belief that if anyone was going to provide a true, complete and unbiased account of ALL the climbs of Everest it was going to be the RGS.
They came spades.
What a book!
Big, heavy, quality paper and the overall look and feel of a book produced by a company that really cares...and it shows.
If you only ever buy 1 book on Everest.....treat yourself and buy this one.
You will not be disappointed.....not even possible.

London Dungeon: Book of: Crime and Punishment
London Dungeon: Book of: Crime and Punishment
by Richard Byrne
Edition: Paperback
24 used & new from CDN$ 0.65

2.0 out of 5 stars Be aware this is Junior high school level style., Aug. 15 2013
This review is for the hardcover edition measuring 10 X 73/4 having 245 pages and lots of B/W photos scattered throughout the book.
This is a general-coverage book on crime in Britain from the early days to fairly modern times.
Not very many cases are dealt with in much detail and this book suffers from dealing with much the same crimw types and styles as well as specific criminals in each of the 5 sections....Capitol crimes, crimes high and low,catching criminals,trial and sentencing and finally punishment.
The problem lies in the fact that many of the crimes are repeated as we hear details of the crime and in a later chapter how they were caught and then how they were tried and so on.
I feel this book is, despite it's size and weight, really about junior high school level in it's overall presentation.
Heavy stock paper and a good size make it a worthwhile book for libraries but as there are very few specifics dealing with most 20th century crime and criminals it is little more than a primer.
Great for the interested child.

Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II
Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II
by Robert Kurson
Edition: Hardcover
58 used & new from CDN$ 1.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best nonfiction adventures I have ever read., Aug. 14 2013
This review is for the hardcover edition measuring 9 1/2 X 6 1/4 having 375 pages and 16 contemporary photo pages and 8 period photo pages.
Initially I was somewhat disappointed with this book as the author's style in the beginning was a little too 'flowery'.
Happily he abandoned that and settled down to what he does best....tell a darn good story.
Shifting point of view from past to future, from person to person, he nonetheless keeps a consistent and riveting storyline pulsing in the background.
From the nearly accidental discovery of 'something' on the bottom that snagged nets and attracted the odd fishing charter boat ONE obsessive diver & boat combination wanted.....needed to find out what was down there.
Secretly meeting the only charter boat captain who was aware of the PRECISE location he trades numbers....GPS co-ordinates and starts his adventure.
Unable to do a 200 foot+ dive on his own he recruits the only other diver with sufficient deep-dive experience AND a similar obsessive nature about the personal purpose they feel towards 'wreckploration' and combining their talents and drive, make an incredible discovery...a WW2 German the coast of New Jersey, where no U-boat is known to have been.
What follows is the almost unbelievable quest to find out what they have found and to correctly identify it which will take them many years of diving and research in America and in Germany.
Just finding and speaking to experts in the field of U-boats is difficult enough and many of them won't believe what they found and won't help and ultimately it costs the lives of 3 divers before the answers are found.
This is one of the most exciting books I have read in years and truly what would be termed a page-turner.
Even at nearly 400 pages it took me less than 2 days as I burned my way through it.
Very highly recommended to the nonfiction adventure me!

Beware Raiders: German Surface Raiders in the Second World War
Beware Raiders: German Surface Raiders in the Second World War
by Bernard Edwards
Edition: Hardcover
11 used & new from CDN$ 8.86

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top notch action with German raiders in WW 2, Aug. 10 2013
This review is for the hardcover edition measuring 9 1/2 X 6 1/4 having 214 pages and 8 photo pages.
Having just recently read another book on a wartime raider ( albeit the First World War ), I was absolutely delighted with this one....more than the other one ( see my reviews ).
Obviously written by a naval man and complete with all the correct terminology author Bernard Edwards tells us of the wartime careers of 2 distinctly different raiders, the Admiral Hipper, whose armament and size should have made her a spectacular force and the much smaller Pinguin, manned largely by reserve troops.
Contrary to German military expectations the effectiveness of these 2 raiders was markedly different.
The author uses a very effective writing style by letting us see the action from both the attacker and the victim's perspective.
Although the amount of book-time is not equally spent on each ship and it's operations it is however appropriate to the value of those operations.
I found this book VERY interesting and very much what is commonly called a 'page-turner' with action and reaction filling the pages.
I find Mr Bernard's style of writing very effective and will search for other books by him.
Highly recommended.

Landmarks in 20th Century Murder
Landmarks in 20th Century Murder
by Robin Odell
Edition: Hardcover
2 used & new from CDN$ 3.59

4.0 out of 5 stars A good general coverage of British murders in the 20th century, Aug. 9 2013
This review is for the hardcover edition measuring 9 1/2 X 6 1/4 having 314 pages and 16 photo pages in 2 sections.
I have given it 4 stars when it really rates 3 1/2 in my opinion.
This is exactly what it is sold as....a chronicling of the landmark cases of the 20th century with one caveat....they are all from Britain.
Since many of the most interesting cases of the 20th century, particularly the first half, WERE in fact from GB and both well documented and written about I had absolutely no problem with the British-exclusive case selection.
The book is divided into 10 sections with each one devoted to each of the 10 decades.
In this way the author shows us the progressive advancement of forensic and police techniques as the years advance.
Naturally in a book of this size covering so much territory the cases are the usual ones one would expect but that is to be expected.
One thing I was a little disappointed with was the lack of ANY bibliography.
As Me Odell quotes from many of the more famous British true crime writers it was doubly annoying as he must surely both possess their work and be able to list them.
No matter....the book is nonetheless a decent compendium of the major crimes of the 20th century and the police and medical efforts to catch them.
Recommended as a good primer for the up and coming true crime buff.

Raider Wolf: Voyage of Captain Nerger, 1916-18
Raider Wolf: Voyage of Captain Nerger, 1916-18
by Edwin P. Hoyt
Edition: Hardcover
5 used & new from CDN$ 42.16

3.0 out of 5 stars An INCREDIBLE story....poorly told by author Hoyt, Aug. 2 2013
This review is for the hardcover edition measuring 8 3/4 X 5 1/2 having 150 pages and no photos at all.
All in all I feel this is not up to the author's later work in several ways.
Firstly the lack of photos make this a 'lazy' book.
Pictures are easy to find and their non-inclusion seems to be nothing more than publisher's economy.

Also the length of the book gives it that feel that it was 'hurried'.It would not have taken much effort to 'flesh' out the story a little as there was more than enough great action.
The story is so exciting in itself that I cannot see any valid reason the author stinted in this area.
Finally, and most annoying of all is the translation of the original documents from German to English. This was particularly poorly done and ONLY the incredible nature of the story itself made it even nominally readable.
Shame on you Mr made the money from the sale but I can't think it's publication IN THIS STATE has enhanced your reputation as a writer.
Published as it was in 1974 I will excuse the writer somewhat as this must have been one of his earlier works....before he had FULLY honed his skill as a writer but buy it with that caveat.
I will recommend this book FOR THE QUALITY OF THE STORY and the exploits of Captain Nerger rather than the writing talents of Mr Hoyt.

Railway of Hell: A Japanese POW's Account of War, Capture & Forced Labour
Railway of Hell: A Japanese POW's Account of War, Capture & Forced Labour
by Reginald Burton
Edition: Hardcover
11 used & new from CDN$ 10.31

3.0 out of 5 stars Not from the ranks and it shows, Aug. 2 2013
This review is for the hardcover edition measuring 9 1/2 X 6 1/4 having 173 pages and 12 photo pages.
These accounts of life as a prisoner of war are my favorite reading and although those from the far East lack the excitement of the escape and evasion of those in Europe they bring another, more personal account of forced labour, poor food and abuse by their captors.
The theme of the River Kwai and the construction of bridges across it by forced labour using British forces captured after the fall of Singapore is not new and there are several well known accounts covering it.
This particular book suffers from being written by a long time ( and after a little research ) retired Lieutenant-Colonel.
Sadly the 'officer' mindset comes through most abundantly in the book with many references to how helpful his batman was.
The idea of an officer having a 'batman' during imprisonment in a camp seems absurd in the extreme.
It's not just that however.
At one point he tells us that the men are complaining that THEY ( the 'other ranks' ) are doing ALL the work while the officers ( who only supervise ) get the extra rations so he gives the men a little speech about how they are better off having British officers administer them than the Japanese and while this may be true he completely fails to understand the MAIN thrust of the men's complaint......THEY do the work and OFFICERS get the extra's not about who gives the order.
He closes by saying...I felt I had the men with me and closed on a lighter note ( he tells a completely lame joke ).
This 'gap'...this class separation between officer and 'other ranks' pervaded the British army at the time and many times I have read of how the Brit offices reacted very poorly to the 'colonials' and how the 'other ranks' tended to speak their mind.
This referred to Canadians, Aussies and Americans.
Sadly there is so much condescension in the author's writing as to make it unpleasant to read at times.
For a MUCH MORE enjoyable and touching account of almost exactly the same thing I recommend
by Charles R. Bond which I have reviewed as well.
This book is recommended ONLY as a period piece.

Tank!: 40 Hours of Battle, August 1944
Tank!: 40 Hours of Battle, August 1944
by Ken Tout
Edition: Hardcover
9 used & new from CDN$ 57.15

5.0 out of 5 stars I believe this is the FINEST first hand account of war I have ever read., Aug. 2 2013
This review is for the hardcover edition measuring 9 1/2 X 6 1/4 having 208 pages and no photos at all.
Normally ( for me ) I would automatically deduct 1 star for ANY contemporary non fiction book without photos but as the saying goes about the exception proving the rule....this one does.
It doesn't need photos....perhaps in fact it is MORE powerful without photos to 'demonstrate' what 'things' looked like....the word-pictures the author presents are sufficiently VIVID in themselves.
Normandy....1944, a day usually described as a major British and Canadian defeat.
Ken Tout disagrees and writes here of his experiences on that now famous battlefield.
First hand war accounts are not new and published, as it was more than 40 years after the fact, I was expecting nothing more than the usual 'I was there' account.
THIS is nothing like any others I have read.
It is STARTLINGLY real and vivid. The zip of shrapnel whizzing past your head is enough to make you duck.
I had previously said that Paul Richey's account of his wartime experiences as a pilot were as close as real as writing could come but I have to confess that THIS is EVEN BETTER.
Covering less than a 2 day period in his battle life the author completely captures the feelings of terror, anger, despair and utter and compelling fatigue in his words.
I have read and enjoyed several other of his books but beyond a doubt this one is the finest.

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