OVERVIEW: This book is a detailed and comprehensive discussion of the three categories of PIC micro MCUs (low-, mid- and high-end). At over 1,000 pages, the book covers the products in (sometimes very technical) detail. It's an excellent resource for microcontroller beginners, as well as those with micro experience but are new to PIC. The book provides excellent descriptions of how the PIC MCUs work, including details about their instruction sets, hardware features, tips for assembly language and macro development, and a slew of interesting experiments and projects.
ADD-ONS: The book includes a CD and a PCB (printed circuit board). The CD contains project code, additional information, data sheets, and even an entire chapter (presumably left out of the actual text because it's already quite lengthy) that provides an excellent introduction to electronics. It (the extra chapter) covers all the basics, and segues into PIC-related electronics issues. The chapter, for example, provides an excellent power supply circuit for PIC experimenting. The PCB is for the "El Cheapo" PIC programmer -- you need to purchase the components (which might be difficult to find), and then you can solder them up onto the included PCB and you'll have a working PIC programmer! IMPORTANT: Be sure you check the author's web site BEFORE ordering your parts -- I believe the parts list has been updated since the text was published.
REFERENCE QUALITY: The book does not make a good reference -- partly because of the way it's structured. (You'll find yourself flipping pages quite a lot if you intend it as reference material.) It is, however, a quite comprehensive and logically organized as a textbook. As an example, the author goes into the why's and how's of the instruction set, rather than just copying a reference table from the Microchip datasheets. Included in the discussions are things to watch out for, optimization ideas, and tricks of the trade. There are also a good number of code samples, which illustrate techniques the author teaches. The index, contents, Appendices (10!) and supporting material on the CD-ROM are all quite good.
ERORS, TYPOES, AND MI$TAKES: Unfortunately there are quite a few errors in the text. Careful readers, though, will catch most of them, -- but they're enough to get you scratching your head in confusion from time to time. If you read critically and experiment as you go, you'll probably do just fine -- just don't bet your job on any one sentence or code snippet. Where there are errors, they're usually typos. They're *not* the types of errors where the author is just dead wrong and thinks he's right. The book could have used a good, qualified technical editor. I like to consider the errors puzzles -- to keep me on my toes. =)
TARGET READER: The text can sometimes get confusing, and is targeted at those with at least some technical education (though I'm sure a bright kid could learn from it, too). If you get stuck somewhere, just move on and come back to it later. This is not the kind of book you just read once then store on the bookshelf, and it's not the type you read through without ever turning back, either.
COMPARED TO SIMILAR BOOKS: This book wins hands down. Take a look at "Programming and Customizing the AVR" to see what I mean. This text does not simply regurgitate information in the datasheets. It goes into DETAIL. For example, "subwf" isn't explained away as "subtract w from f", instead the text explains why this command is a bit different than others, and how it can be thought of to make more sense.
BINDING QUALITY: The book is paperback and is bound in such a way that the pages will not turn and the cover will not swing closed when set flat - a great benefit when following along with experiments. Also, the binding has held up quite nicely and all the pages are held tightly in place, even after being left in a hot car all day.
CONCLUSIONS: Four stars only because of the errors and because it's a poor reference. Otherwise, A+ all the way. Highly recommended, indeed.
I hope this information is helpful to you.