The almost 1200 pages and the big format makes this title look impressive, but a lot of white space fills out the pages and the second half of the book covers class hierarchy diagrams, class reference, index and that kind of stuff. The title isn't entirely accurate, since this is not Java 1.1 entirely; it is 1.02 code with some Java 1.1 extensions.
First is the usual 'Why learn Java?' chapter, with the well-known answers, i.e. it is platform Independent, OO and easy to learn. Why always argue that Java is easy to learn? For a C/C++ programmer, yes, but absolutely not for a real beginner, soon becoming frustrated while reading this 'beginners' text. Laura Lemay is honest enough to recommend some prior programming experience from her reader.
There is no chapter comparing C/C++ and Java. Instead the comparisons are nicely integrated with the text, sometimes in special notes. Their main target seems to be readers with a working C/C++ knowledge. In the following 24 chapters, each divided into 4 short lessons, every aspect of Java programming is covered. OOP is introduced on a early stage and also threads.
I found very few complete program examples in the book, but the text is accurate overall, and the many short code samples are explained in detail. A plus comes from the illustrations and also the ambition to explain topics like bytecodes and the JVM in a deeper sense.
I think 'debugging a Java program' was the only chapter I missed. The advantage with the authors aim to try to grasp everything, is that you really get the whole picture. The disadvantage, as I felt it, is that you must leave a subject as soon as it starts to become interesting.
Every lesson ends with a quiz, with answers in an appendix. However, there are no programming exercises, which is a disappointment since it's not possible to learn any language without practical work.
This review is not complete without mentioning the ezone, a site for the reader of the book to register herself as student. Among the features available are the quizzes online, a Java Mailing list with search possibilities, chatrooms and the valuable possibility to ask Java-related questions to a 'mentor' (but only 10 questions per course).
My recommendation is that this title is worth buying if you are also interested in this interactive Web-part. If not, it is better to invest in a more inexpensive title (with exercises) and download, for example, Dippy Birds JDK 1.1 documentation from the Web for reference purposes.