If you frequent the many Delphi newsgroups and programming lists available to all via the Web as I do, you'll note one question in particular that gets asked time and time again. "Can you please advise as to a good Delphi book?" It's a question that comes in many flavors, depending of course upon the proficiency of the writer, but unfortunately is rarely answered sufficiently. Not that there aren't quite a few high-quality books being published on the subject. There are! But like so many informational resources today, these books are usually written in devotion to one or two particular areas of Delphi interest or endeavor! Great for those who already command the language and need to explore in more detail their current needs. And of course there are a few beginner's books to be found, but these seem to mostly rehash simple descriptions of the VCL components, or take the reader on an example-filled journey through basic programming situations without considering the basic information necessary to satisfying the beginner's need to know why! "Delphi in a Nutshell" is the first and ONLY manual on the Delphi programming system that blends a complete overview of the subject with the kind of nuts and bolts information that every programmer, regardless of skill level, needs available every single day! Starting with a very precise look at what a Delphi project is, how it is managed, and the many files that make it up, Lischner continues ferociously into Types, Arrays, Methods, Exception handling, pointers, and just about every conditional need a programmer might come up against! A whole chapter is devoted to the Delphi Object Model, another on Runtime Type Information, and yet another on Threads called "Concurrent Programming"...three subjects sorely under documented over the years. And broaching topics I've not read more than a few paragraphs about elsewhere, the author considers Delphi's command-line tools in detail, explaining what they're for, when to use them, and providing a complete list and definition of every parameter! Finally, the SysUtils unit is broken down in it's entirety, providing not just a brief overview, but a complete listing and explanation of every procedure, function, and constant it provides us, broken down by use in such a way that makes Delphi's own help files on the subject seem amateurish by comparison! The discussion on it's Error-handling hierarchy alone is worth the price of this book. Never before reading this had I really grasped the elegant way Delphi provides for this practical need! Saving the best for last, the largest chapter in this book is called, "Language Reference". Stuck right in the middle, making it easy to get to with the thumb and forefinger, Lischner has documented for us EVERY keyword, directive, function, procedure, variable, class, method, and property that Delphi's version of Pascal provides for us! And these aren't the simple descriptions we're used to dealing with, but detailed explanations of their use, including return values, parameters, and even error conditions. In fact, in the final pages of this chapter he offers a complete list of all the runtime exceptions, their codes, and the exception classes that handle them! Delphi coders have been waiting for this since version one, and it's inclusion here has guaranteed a place for this book on my desk! To be fair, I do have two complaints about this book. First, and as it seems to be with all great reference works, it simply isn't big enough! And I'd like to see the author expand his expertise into other, equally important aspects of Delphi, and programming in general. And second, books such as this, which will undoubtedly be handled on a daily basis, should be bound in a manner that meets this need. This one isn't, and I'm sad to say that after only two nights of reading, I'm already forced to tape the pages back in place! Even at the expense it would cause, I'd lie to see this and other references bound in spiral notebooks, or even offered as unbound, punched pages which could then be placed in readily available loose-leaf binders. If there is, and I certainly hope to see one, a second edition of this book, PLEASE bind it properly! In closing, I just want to say that I own quite a few really great Delphi books, all of them being well used as a reference during my programming excursions, but "Delphi in a Nutshell" is the FIRST one that I have actually read cover to cover! Besides it's necessary factual information, it includes a plethora of tips, warnings, and other practical considerations that could only come from someone who has spent more time actually working with Delphi than most of us could ever attest to. And is written by someone who is so conversant in the language as to make even the most complicated subjects easy to understand and follow! Lischner is to be applauded for not only providing us with an invaluable reference work, but also with a pleasurable reading experience that meets and then surpasses all competitors. For once you can believe what it says on the back cover. ""Delphi in a Nutshell" is the ONE indispensable reference for Delphi programmers!"!