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Learning Python [Paperback]

Mark Lutz
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Learning Python Learning Python 3.5 out of 5 stars (11)
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Book Description

1 Nov 2007 0596513984 978-0596513986 3

Portable, powerful, and a breeze to use, Python is ideal for both standalone programs and scripting applications. With this hands-on book, you can master the fundamentals of the core Python language quickly and efficiently, whether you're new to programming or just new to Python. Once you finish, you will know enough about the language to use it in any application domain you choose.

Learning Python is based on material from author Mark Lutz's popular training courses, which he's taught over the past decade. Each chapter is a self-contained lesson that helps you thoroughly understand a key component of Python before you continue. Along with plenty of annotated examples, illustrations, and chapter summaries, every chapter also contains Brain Builder, a unique section with practical exercises and review quizzes that let you practice new skills and test your understanding as you go.

This book covers:

  • Types and Operations -- Python's major built-in object types in depth: numbers, lists, dictionaries, and more


  • Statements and Syntax -- the code you type to create and process objects in Python, along with Python's general syntax model


  • Functions -- Python's basic procedural tool for structuring and reusing code


  • Modules -- packages of statements, functions, and other tools organized into larger components


  • Classes and OOP -- Python's optional object-oriented programming tool for structuring code for customization and reuse


  • Exceptions and Tools -- exception handling model and statements, plus a look at development tools for writing larger programs
Learning Python gives you a deep and complete understanding of the language that will help you comprehend any application-level examples of Python that you later encounter. If you're ready to discover what Google and YouTube see in Python, this book is the best way to get started.


Product details

  • Paperback: 752 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 3 edition (1 Nov 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596513984
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596513986
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 17.9 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 424,055 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

About the Author

Mark Lutz is the world leader in Python training, the author of Python's earliest and best-selling texts, and a pioneering figure in the Python community since 1992. He is also the author of O'Reilly's Programming Python, 3rd Edition and Python Pocket Reference, 3rd Edition. Mark began teaching Python classes in 1997, and has instructed more than 200 Python training sessions as of 2007. Mark also has BS and MS degrees in Computer Science and 25 years of software development experience. Whenever Mark gets a break from spreading the Python word, he leads an ordinary, average life with his kids in Colorado. Mark can be reached by email at , or on the web at http://www.rmi.net/~lutz.


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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Painfully slow 23 Mar 2009
By T. Howe
Format:Paperback
After reading 2/3 of this book I was tearing my hair out. It fails to address either beginners or experience programmers properly. I fall into the latter group, being a perl developer of 10 years.

For beginners it doesn't explain any programming concepts. So you will be learning python features without grasping what purpose they fill.

It shows you very methodically the basic forms, constructs and features of the language but not why or how to use them. A good book will show you these features in context early on and walk you through the example code for real use cases highlighting the feature it is showing.

It should not really be comparing why feature x is differnt in python to C or worrying the reader about future changes to the language. It should give the reader just enough information to start playing with the language by showing the reader basic programs, explaining the concepts and providing good exercises that encourage the reader to think like a programmer.

Experienced programmers will feel like they are wasting their time I as did. I'm reading Core python now which is considerably better but even that could be arranged better. I'd prefer a summary of data types, conditionals and looping and then get right to the meat and potatoes of functional and oo programming, followed by a more detailed reference. Detailed tables of of datatypes, file open() options should not be at the beginning, they should be in a reference section.

I got a bit sick of all the monty python references too although it did made me laugh when it asked me what my favourite colour was in one of the exercises - but that unfortunately was it's only redeeming feature.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Learning Python - Mark Lutz 25 Sep 2012
By alsa90
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent reference to understand all aspects of Python programming from the very basics to the more in-depth. It deals with Classes and OOP (Obect Oriented Programming) very well with many examples. Anyone with a sequential programming background who finds OOP difficult will delight in this book. I thoroughly recommend it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not for complete beginners 9 Aug 2012
By Rob
Format:Paperback
I don't think this book is ideal for the new programmer who is picking Python as their first language.

Python is my first language, and luckily before I read this book, I had got a grounding else where for free (Learning Python the hard way, etc). I found that Mr.Lutz spends too much time comparing Python 3.x to Python2.x (without showing 2.x examples) and is a waste of time and confusing to a new programmer learning Python.

Mr.Lutz is terrible at introducing new concepts to. You might find that you write a "for loop" within the first 200 pages, only loops haven't even been covered yet. He does this all the way through the beginning of the book, with the caveat of "we'll cover this in more detail later in the book..." leaving the reader without a full picture of the example code they just typed in and ran. A reader should have closure before moving on to the next topic but Mr.Lutz leaves you hanging, wondering, and wanting to jump around in the book rather than taking it chapter by chapter.

All that said, if you have some basic experience with Python, you can get passed the poor style of writing, and learn plenty. It does cover a lot, and it does provide the reader with valuable experience of typing in code and seeing what it does. But this should be your 2nd or 3rd book if you are trying to build a solid foundation before moving onto more advanced books like Mr.Lutz Python Programming
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want to learn Python. Read this book. 9 Feb 2012
Format:Paperback
This is the book to read to learn Python.
Easy read, cover to cover, teaches you everything you need to know and more.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  49 reviews
41 of 47 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible Book for Python 16 Jan 2009
By John Malis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I was sorely disappointed by this book. I normally love O'Reilly books and was very glad to see that they had make a beginners book for Python; but this book is just terrible. Like others have said, its very very wordy, repeating even the most simplistic concept 5 different times but discussing the more complicated parts with esoteric examples - which is what is accounting for the majority of this book's pages.

Though I have now become a pretty decent Python programmer, this book had absolutely nothing to do with it. Instead I would highly recommend Beginning Python: From Novice to Professional, Second Edition (Beginning from Novice to Professional) which is a fantastic book for learning and great for reference.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Is this really from O'Reilly? 5 Jan 2009
By Daniel D. Lohin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the first O'Reilly book that I will say that I regret purchasing. Coming from Perl and now trying to see what the hype with Python is about. I know Java as well as C++, so I understand OO and all it is supposed to do.

So far I am on page 200 and I still can't do a darn thing with the language. Instead the author chooses to spend pages explaining how python handles objects in memory (not sure how I supposed to understand what an object is if I never did another language). It is now page 200, I have no idea how to do loops, no idea how to accept input or even how to print a string. This book is terrible. My learning Perl book is only 200 pages long and packed with useful information. This book just goes into detail about the language and how it operates internally. That would be fine towards the end of the book, but as it stands this is the only O'Reilly book I can't recommend.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wordy 31 Dec 2008
By Kelly D. Painter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book should be called "Learning Python for people who have never programmed before". The author states in the preface that no assumptions have been made about the reader's programming background. I think that this is why this book is so wordy.

Amazon's opening statement: "The authors of Learning Python show you enough essentials of the Python scripting language to enable you to begin solving problems right away..." Well, not right away. You have to read half the book first. The book delves into the details of data object types before even talking about basic programming features such as for/while loops (pg. 248). This book is an obvious outcropping of the author's classes on Python. I would think that the author's approach would be fine in a classroom setting, but this hand-holding approach in print is laborious.

The book also has altogether too many references to later chapters. I got tired of reading "X will be covered later in chapter Y". If you aren't going to talk about it now, don't waste the reader's time talking about how you are not going to talk about it now.

That said, I found the information in the book to be useful.

I just received "Programming in Python 3" by Mark Summerfield. This book takes the approach I wish that "Learning Python" had.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good reference, not good for learning 24 Aug 2009
By Francisco J. Rodriguez - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If you are not a programmer by trade and are looking to learn python, wait to buy this book. It certainly provides thorough information, but it is really, really dry. Personally, I prefer a book that teaches you through exercises and examples where one lesson builds on the concepts of the last. This book does that, but to a boring degree.

I read through 80% of the book and didn't feel like I learned python because I hadn't put it into practice. I later bought the "Python Programming for the absolute beginner" book by Michael Dawson. This book gets right to the point and lets you learn by doing.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If books were measured by weight... 27 Oct 2008
By S. Taylor - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I just spent a few days going through this book and learned a lot. I've been working with PHP for years, but never did much complicated code. I studied Java about 8 years ago also and learned a lot about OOP from that. But never did any programming in Java. So it was all concept, no experience.

My reason for reading this book was to start using Python with Django. I wanted to learn Python first so I would understand the framework better.

This book covers in excruciating detail many of the finer qualities of just about everything you can imagine being in the language. I'm sure it doesn't cover everything the language can do. But somehow it spends 600 plus pages going over details that I wouldn't expect to find even if I was reading a 300 page book called "What I was thinking when I wrote this particular function on July 3rd 1991"

If something can be explained by 2 lines of example code and a three sentence paragraph about what's going on, the author does that -after 2 pages of explanation of how this code you are about to see might be a little like C, but it's a little different too, and how what you are going to learn is really powerful, and how some students might notice that the code is similar in structure to the code that you will see on page 400 later in the book.

If you think my review is way too verbose, read the book.

I give it 3 stars because it was in fact clear and well communicated information. It was just often hard to keep reading past all the unnecessary words to get to the useful content.
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