countdown boutiques-francophones Learn more vpcflyout Pets All-New Kindle Music Deals Store sports Tools
Profile for James W. Derry > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by James W. Derry
Top Reviewer Ranking: 7,434
Helpful Votes: 98

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Amazon Communities.

Reviews Written by
James W. Derry (Courtenay, British Columbia, Canada)
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
pixel
Ergo Chef 9-Pocket Professional Soft Knife Roll Bag
Ergo Chef 9-Pocket Professional Soft Knife Roll Bag
Price: CDN$ 39.47
5 used & new from CDN$ 32.92

5.0 out of 5 stars Great value. Like how it zips up on all ..., Aug. 25 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Great value. Like how it zips up on all 3 sides and has a separate mesh pouch for sharpener. Knives are all held securely and rolls up neatly.


Cities and Civilizations
Cities and Civilizations
by Christopher Hibbert
Edition: Paperback
12 used & new from CDN$ 2.71

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 21 CITIES AT THEIR PEAK, Dec 29 2013
Written over 25 years ago, this is still an interesting book about 21 cities at their peak of influence and power. Christopher Hibbert groups these cities into the Ancient, the Developing, and the Modern. Although most of these places still exist today, he describes them during their most important era, such as Athens in the days of Pericles or Toledo during the reign of Philip II. This makes for fascinating reading, for we see how these places looked when they were great capitals or seats of power and how people like Peter the Great could simply make a city come into existence by sheer will.
These places were formed when most of the population was rural, so the city became the concentrated site of culture, government, and what we think of as civilization. Some cities grow to be even greater, such as New York, in terms of economics, and some ceased to exist altogether, such as Cuzco. St Petersburg was the capital of Russian under Peter but Moscow became the capital under Lenin. New Orleans was a mighty engine for the expansion of the USA, but it went into a steep decline that persists to the present. Amsterdam was once the centre of an empire, as was Vienna and Rome.
Well illustrated, but not lavishly, this is a good overview of our great cities, of how they came into existence, why they lost importance on the world stage, and why people still live there today.


Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan
Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan
by Edmund Morris
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.09
69 used & new from CDN$ 0.78

4.0 out of 5 stars A NOVEL TAKE, Dec 8 2013
This book has received a bad rap. Since its much anticipated release in 1999, Dutch did not meet with a kind reception. Critics were perplexed and Republicans hated it. Book reviewers were wondering if it would ever be published since it took Morris so long to finish writing the book.
What everybody seems to miss, including most reviewers here, is this is not a Biography of Ronald Reagan. It is a Memoir. Just like it says in Edmund Morris's title. A memoir is a personal remembrance. For a conventional biography read Lou Cannon's book.
Although following the fictionalized characters in the early part of the book is disconcerting at first, I think I understand why Morris took this route. In biography, "the early years", birth, childhood, and youth is quite frankly, boring. We want to cut to the "good stuff" in the person's life and gloss over the formative years. And although Morris was the official biographer who followed the President around for over three years, Reagan was less than articulate about his childhood, his family, his ex-wife. What Reagan was, above all, was an actor who played a part and once the scene was over, he moved on to the next scene. No introspection. No doubts. So after much rewriting, it must have come to Morris to use the same device to relate Reagan's past.
So the short version is: Lifeguard, Radio Announcer, Contract Actor in Hollywood, Union President, Spokesperson for General Electric, Governor of California, President of the USA, Retirement.
It is during his second term as President that Morris writes directly on his subject and it has the greatest interest to us. This is the man who made America feel good about itself again after Carter's humiliation in Iran. This is the President who stared down the Soviet Union and dared it to top his fictional Star Wars defense plan. The coverage of the Summit Meetings with Gorbachev is probably the best eye-witnessed writing of these events anywhere. Although stage-managed, and there were not many people to see it, Reagan's "Tear down this Wall Mr Gorbachev", rang around the world. Reaganomics boosted the USA economy out of the doldrums, but it dumped a debt load onto the following presidents. Ronald Reagan was a nice man who loved to tell a joke, and much to the chagrin of his handlers, could not resist launching into yet another Hollywood reminiscence. Even an intellectual like Francois Mitterrand saw something powerful in Reagan.
It says something that after spending countless hours researching at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Morris found that he seemed to be the only person there. In fact, this facility is the least used by scholars of all the presidential libraries. Reagan seemed like an idiot to many, and he was no genius, but up until the end of his second term, he wrote almost all his own speeches and was an excellent speaker. His training as an actor gave him a good memory for names, which came in handy when campaigning. And a sense of humour, which also helped to endear him to millions. (Wheeled into surgery after the assassination attempt on his life, and near death, Reagan quipped: "Can we re-shoot this scene, starting at the hotel?).
Dutch also has wonderful character sketches of the powerful around Reagan, in the White House and around the world. Although the temptation to dish on Nancy Reagan must have been difficult to suppress, Morris keeps his focus on Reagan. However, Nancy's chilling personality does come through, such as in a priceless interview he has with George & Barbara Bush as Reagan leaves office. A twisting Barbara Bush does everything but sit on her hands to keep herself from revealing how much she loathed the former First Lady.
Dutch has many photographs and drawings that support the various chapters and their unusual titles, such as On The Beach with Ronnie and Jane or Explosions or Celluloid Commandos. Some parts of the book are written like a script, others like a letter. There are poems, a few written by Reagan himself. This is a very different kind of book about a personage of historical importance. I suggest you just enjoy it.


On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks
On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks
by Simon Garfield
Edition: Hardcover
35 used & new from CDN$ 2.85

3.0 out of 5 stars OFF THE CHART, Dec 8 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
For map nuts, this is a must read book. Simon Garfield takes on an interesting subject, but, unfortunately, will not meet these readers expectations. Great to read in some chapters, but lacking in spark in others, this book needed a better editor.
That said, Garfield obviously loves maps. From crude early maps that were mostly best guesses to the modern world of GPS, the history of maps and mapping is all covered.
Those who have read the author's Just My Type will probably be disappointed with this book. It starts off with promise with the controversial Mappa Mundi sell-off by Hereford Cathedral to raise maintenance funds and the early maps of the New World are interesting for their errors. We learn a lot, but really, not enough. Antique maps are poorly reproduced in black and white making them difficult to see clearly. Chapters such as Mapping The Brain, are pretty boring. The mapping of the London Underground could have been expanded, as this was such a great achievement of creating a diagram of what could not be seen or put to scale.
To be expected, Google Maps is covered, but its privacy issues are not examined. The total dependancy of people in our age to rely on Google to navigate their way in the world is rather sad, for the ability to read a simple reliable folding map has been lost.
The best part On The Map is the inside cover plates of Mark Ovenden's brilliant map of the world with the London Underground overlaid to show cities on the planet with metro systems. Too bad all the illustrations were not of this quality. A book about maps, after all, must have beautiful maps to study.


A History of Roman Britain
A History of Roman Britain
by Peter Salway
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 22.31
20 used & new from CDN$ 11.48

5.0 out of 5 stars BRITANNIA IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE, Nov. 28 2013
I have always wanted to find a good book describing the period of Roman occupation of Britain, and it is safe to say that Peter Salway has written it. Dense with detail, yet quite easy to understand and read, this single volume traces the history of Roman conquest until the withdrawal of troops and colonists shortly before the sack of Rome. Almost 400 years, more if one includes the failed attempt to invade by Julius Caesar, of being under the great empire's influence.
Salway, a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, allows us to understand how the imperial state functioned in Britain, how "civilization" brought swift roads, communications, engineering, high culture, mass produced goods, trade and stability to this remote island from the Saxon coast to Hadrian's Wall. Great political upheavals and events in Italy are followed as they relate to Britannia, from the golden age of the 4 good emperors, to the various periods of persistent civil wars between generals. And the people of Britain, the Druids, the Welsh, the many mini kingdoms, for the most part live with their new masters in harmony, at least, appreciate the benefits of being a part of this astonishing empire.
At one point the empire became to big to manage and with "barbarians" nipping at the weakening borders, Roman government left the island after its long occupation. And with it went an efficient system of roads and forts, villas and farms, and the population declined, never to recover until possibly a thousand years.
This book contains many helpful maps but no illustrations. A good companion book to Salway is Guy de la Bedoyere's Roman Britain, which is lavish with photographs, charts, illustrations, coinage, and archeological sites that bring to life Rome's achievements in Britain.


Strange Empire
Strange Empire
by Howard
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 34.50
23 used & new from CDN$ 25.81

5.0 out of 5 stars EVEN STRANGER LEADER, Nov. 23 2013
This review is from: Strange Empire (Paperback)
It is difficult to believe that Strange Empire was written almost 65 years ago, but Joseph Howard has written his history of Louis Riel and the Metis People so well, that it easily stands the test of time.
Howard was not a professional historian. He was an American news reporter who wrote for such popular magazines as Harper's and Esquire, but we wrote best about Montana, his home state. It is astonishing that he has probably written the best book about Riel, and done a great service for Canadian history. More detailed and scholarly Riel books have been written, by Thomas Flanagan, for instance, but Howard's book is the most readable, and lively. He did grow up in southern Alberta before his family moved to Montana, so this story came to him naturally, with his interest in social justice.
I myself grew up in southern Manitoba where the Riel legend is well known. Riel is buried in St. Boniface, the French section of Winnipeg, and there are several statues of him in the area, streets named for his family. His presence is felt everywhere. For myself, it was exciting to read this book years ago, knowing that places that Riel and Dumont stood, I was there too.
A myth making book this is not. What becomes quite clear is that Riel was visionary, but quite mad at times and often he did the Metis cause harm. His brilliant general, Gabriel Dumont, probably could have won the war of the west if it had not been for Riel's interference. However, his passion for justice for the Metis people in Manitoba and later, Saskatchewan is obvious. He was after all, fighting for what was rightfully theirs. He was in fact, legally elected by the people of Manitoba as a Member of Parliament in Ottawa. Not once, but twice, in the middle of ongoing federal political scandals. He did everything right. It was the white anglo establishment that refused to recognize him, and his people, and pushed him over the edge, into exile in the USA, and drawn back to his people in Batoche in Saskatchewan.
Strange Empire, (the title is inspired), is a wonderful read on so many levels. I keep it on my library shelf close by, to remind me of not just home, or even of an historic hero, but that often the happy ending is usually not in store for us.


Red River Trails 1820-1871: Oxcart Routes Between St Paul & The Selkirk Settlement 1820-1870
Red River Trails 1820-1871: Oxcart Routes Between St Paul & The Selkirk Settlement 1820-1870
by Rhoda Gilman
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 25.50
14 used & new from CDN$ 15.60

4.0 out of 5 stars EARLY TRANSPORT ON THE PRAIRIES, Nov. 19 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a very well researched book about Red River cart routes between Winnipeg and St Paul, Minnesota. A team of writers from the Minnesota Historical Society has done an excellent job of researching the seven cart routes in Manitoba, North Dakota, and Minnesota. In the early 1800's, long before NAFTA, this was the only way to conduct trade between the two countries in the West, as the Red River was only partially navigable. Everything came up the Mississippi to St Paul, the trail and rail head.
Maps are extensive and helpful to amateur historians trying to find remains of the original cart tracks. Having grown up in Winnipeg I was pleased to learn that Pembina Hwy, the north/south artery in Winnipeg, was paved over the original Red River cart route to the USA border. This was a street I lived close to and travelled almost daily. The Carlton Trail, the route west of Winnipeg is not investigated, but the reader will get an understanding of how important these primitive cart routes were to opening up this part of the continent.
The cart was a Metis invention and was built of native oak from the banks of the Red River. It used no nails or screws, but held together by bison hide and could carry loads up to 450 kg., pulled by oxen. There were probably thousands of these vehicles, and their huge wheels left deep ruts in the black soil, creating the early roads which turned into today's modern highways.


Ogilvy on Advertising
Ogilvy on Advertising
by David Ogilvy
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 22.23
23 used & new from CDN$ 12.34

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE ORIGINAL MADMAN, Nov. 17 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Ogilvy on Advertising (Paperback)
Although somewhat dated, Ogilvy On Advertising is a classic on advertising. First published in 1986, David Ogilvy's primer about the industry was a sensation. His firm, (later Ogilvy and Mather, when he sold out and retired to a chateau in France) revolutionized print advertising and he set new standards of excellence. His motto was "I hate rules".
Some of his ads are still recognizable long after the client's campaign ended. Ogilvy created the Hathaway Shirt Man (with eye patch) for instance. In this book he discusses his competitors on Madison Ave with admiration of ads that were executed brilliantly, for they teach lessons he always believed in. He himself loved print ads and today his firm's magazine ads look, well, wordy. But they worked because he believed in giving the customer accurate and honest information.
If the reader is interested in or studying advertising, graphic art, or marketing, this is standard text. And it does not hurt that Ogilvy is a witty and engaging teacher.


Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia
Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia
by Michael Korda
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.80
33 used & new from CDN$ 4.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HERO YES BUT GENIUS ABSOLUTELY, Nov. 17 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
If you have not been able to read T.E. Lawrence's own book about his experiences in Arabia, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, then this biography will probably rekindle your interest. Michael Korda has written a stunning book about this extraordinary man, and it is quite an achievement that his writing almost approaches the brilliance of Lawrence's book, which he quotes at length.
We have all seen the David Lean film, Lawrence of Arabia. But in the beginning it was the American broadcaster Lowell Thomas who "created" the celebrity, and it was Lawrence IN Arabia, and he took second billing to General Allenby in Palestine, as the hugely successful travelogue was called.
Lawrence's life was complex and complicated, right from his birth as the illegitimate son of Sir Thomas Chapman and the household governess Sara Junner. His father left his first family in Ireland to raise a second family in Wales under the name Lawrence. At Oxford T.E. studied medieval castles and pottery and in his research travels learned to speak French, Greek, and Arabic. It was out of his experiences in the old Ottoman Empire that he became valuable to the British Army in World War I, and proved his genius as a linguist, map maker, military strategist, diplomat, writer, and friend to the tribes of "arabs".
The Lowell Thomas travelogues made Lawrence an international celebrity, a fate he loathed. So much so that he took no financial benefit from his fame, changed his name to Shaw, and re-enlisted in the Royal Air Force not as an officer, but as an aircraft mechanic. Yet he socialized with the likes of Winston Churchill, Noel Coward, and George Bernard Shaw. He loved motor bikes and speedboats and was an excellent photographer.
Korda helps make sense of all this and places Lawrence in the context of his times. This is a wonderful read.


All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945
All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945
by Max Hastings
Edition: Paperback
13 used & new from CDN$ 3.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE FIRST MEGA WAR, March 8 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a vast, vast book. Not just in its global canvas, but in depth of thought, opinion, and detail.
Max Hastings, the British author of many previous war histories, has done the near impossible: summarized World War II in a brilliant, thrilling single volume. He gives not just the overview of major events of titanic proportion, but first hand accounts of individuals who experienced the war from many perspectives and situations. As we read this brilliant book, we begin to have a pretty good idea of what it was like to have your country invaded, or to have engaged in battle, or lay wounded in a field hospital, or have your home bombed out, or witness unspeakable horrors.
Hastings' opinions are forceful and some of the truths he uncovers will not please all readers. Credit is given to Stalin and the former Soviet Union for defeating Hitler and winning the war in Europe. Compared to the massive, brutal sacrifice of Stalin's armies, Britain, her Commonwealth allies, and the USA did little more than splash ashore in France and make their way towards Germany. All nations suffered terrible losses, but Stalin threw his people at his enemy to die in the millions. Only a brutal dictator could do this. No wonder the Russians refer to WWII as the Great Patriotic War.
Hastings reminds us that Russia was Hitler's ally for the first two years of the war, a fact conveniently deleted in Soviet histories. France still has not produced an official history of their role in the war as there are still far too many betrayals, lies, and too much cowardice to face. Japan likewise still will not tell its children what their soldiers did in China. All belligerents had their share of defectors, traitors, and spineless leaders. War does not bring out the best in people.
The remote, steamy, naval war in the Pacific was won by the USA. Once its mighty industrial output came on line, there was no winning situation for Japan to grab on to. But like Germany, Japan continue to fight, even though the generals knew it was over as early as 1943, but the leaders would not accept a negotiated surrender. So millions more continued to perish. Hastings shows us why.
We all know how it ended. Germany's cities and industry were obliterated to rubble, an oppressive Soviet empire was set up in eastern Europe, a new, unthinkable weapon of horror was Japan's fate, and Britain lost its colonial might. But what we do not realize is that this was the first truly global war, a war that "affected and disrupted the lives of hundreds of millions of people, even those far from any battle". And I would add, their descendants.
An important, massive, first class history.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5