Author: Mark Lutz
Publisher: O'Reilly, 4th Edition, 2010
Aimed at: Beginners to Python through to advanced
Pros: Updated to Python 3
Cons: Too long and too repetitive
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot
No book should be this big. It is as simple as that. What could any author have to say that remains coherent after 1632 pages? What programming topic could possibly need that many words expended on it? Either the author has a life-long wish to write an encylopedia or the publisher is using a busineess model where more pages equals more profit. It has to be admitted that give its size it isn't over-priced but it is extremely unlikely you are going to read a significant proportion of this rambling tome.
I'm not even going to try to provide a full overview of what it contains. It is important that you know that it covers Python 3.x and if you want something that covers earlier versions look for earlier editions.
The book is divided into six parts:
- The Beginning - an intro to Python
- System Programming
- GUI Programming
- Internet Programming
- Tools and Techniques
- The End - Python and the development cycle
The big problem with the book is that it often rambles its way through topics without much idea of where it is going or why it is starting where it is. It often reads like a stream of consciousness discussion of programming topics in Python. A lot of the book isn't really about Python its about some computer science or system topic that is then explained using Python. This is, of course, why the book is so big. The overall effect is intimidating and this is far from begin a beginners book despite the weak attempts at humour. It also isn't particularly an advanced Python programmers book either because it majors on providing examples, lots of poorly explained examples.
The style is also very verbose with a great deal of working around repeated examples and iterations to get to the point that is being made. The overall effect is to make the simple and easy seem difficult and boring.
Of course if you like encyclopedic collections of the worlds knowledge then you might feel some comfort by having this on your bookshelf (make sure its strong enough). My final verdict is that this book proves that bigger isn't better.