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Python Programming for the Absolute Beginner Paperback – 31 Jan 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Course Technology PTR; Third edition (31 Jan. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1435455002
  • ISBN-13: 978-1435455009
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 19 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (147 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


Introduction. 1. Getting Started: The Game Over Program. 2. Types, Variables, and Simple I/O: The Useless Trivia Program. 3. Branching, while Loops, and Program Planning: The Guess My Number Game. 4. for Loops, Strings, and Tuples: The Word Jumble Game. 5. Lists and Dictionaries: The Hangman Game. 6. Functions: Tic-Tac-Toe. 7. Files and Exceptions: The Trivia Challenge Game. 8. Software Objects: The Critter Caretaker Program. 9. Object-Oriented Programming: The Blackjack Game. 10. GUI Development: The Mad Lib Program.

About the Author

Michael Dawson has worked as both a programmer and a computer game designer and producer. In addition to real-world game industry experience, Dawson earned his bachelor's degree in Computer Science from the University of Southern California. He currently teaches game programming and design to students of all ages through UCLA Extension courses and private lessons. Visit his Web site at to learn more or to get support for any of his books.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Nico on 26 May 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book!

I am a teacher with some programming experience and am in the process of setting up a new course, for my school, OCR GCSE Computing. I needed a computer language that was easy for teenagers to learn, cross-plaform (so it can run on Macs & Windows PCs), modern with the ability to introduce object orientated programming and to lead on to other languages such as Java. I have taught Java via the excellent BlueJ IDE and the wonderful book, "Objects First with Java: A Practical Introduction Using BlueJ", but this is a bit advanced for 14 / 15 year olds. I did consider using "Greenfoot" with another great book - "Introduction to Programming with Greenfoot: Object-Oriented Programming in Java with Games and Simulations (Alternative Etext Formats), but the OCR course needs more basic introduction to loops, if statements, and arrays and doesn't strictly need objects. As for Visual Basic - well too much fiddling with interface objects, not enough "pure" programming and besides not cross- platform. So I chose Python.

Next step was to choose a tutorial style textbook, with lots of worked examples, exercises to test the students, a fun learning curve, basics and fundamental concepts explained, practically based and with lots of code to play with. I chose "Python Programming for the Absolute Beginner." I chose well, very well!

This book does everything I wanted it to do. Chapters 1 to 7 cover all the programming requirements of the course.
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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Clara on 1 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
I bought this book knowing absolutely nothing about programming. It begins at the very start, with the basics and explains the concept of everything you learn. I haven't finished the book yet, but so far it has been great. It does have a website paired with it, that I thought was a little tricky to navigate, but that is only necissary in downloading python. Even then, you can also go to the python website as well(Which the book clearly explains). It has lots of entertaining programs to write, and includes the code in the book. For example, you start with the simple 'Game Over' program, and go on to Hangman, The Useless Trivia Program and even the three-year-old simulator! There is code for these on the website, but I find it more enjoyable to type it into the computer from the book. Like this you can see how it works, and add or change bits if you want. At the end of each chapter is a set of challenges which you can undertake. They vary, but usually include skills from the chapter. I have noticed that it seems to have a focus on game design and programming.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By pigrah on 15 April 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have only gone through the first few chapters, but the book seems well written and easy to follow for people who don't know much about computers.

However there are some problems with it. One major one is specific to Mac users. This book is written for people using a PC and using Python version 3. The biggest problem with this is that Macs come with Python version 2 built in and some of the commands used differ between versions. As an example this caused an error in the very first practice exercise, which lead to me having to trawl the net for solutions (not so simple for a beginner). There are also some apparent differences in how python programs are run between pcs and Macs and this is not really covered. It could be made clearer for buyers what operating system this book is geared towards.

The second problem is that the online supplementary material (e.g. code for the different practice programs), advertised on the front cover, is apparently no longer available, at least using the link given in the book.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Bruce TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is actually among the best teach yourself programming books I've read for any programming language, not just Python.

I've done a fair bit of programming before, in various versions of BASIC, PHP, JavaScript etc., so I was able to skim-read most of the first half of the book, the 'absolute beginner bit' which begins with the first principles of programming such as variables, loops, and functions, just to work out what Python's unique quirks are (above all, it's the first language I've come across where indentation is vitally important rather than just tidy). The section on dictionaries and tuples I had to read carefully, as I found Python's approach to arrays a bit fiddly compared to other languages I've used, but most of it was straightforward.

If you've really never programmed a computer before, I think it would be a fairly steep learning curve- this'll be a good book to choose, but you should take things very slowly, absorb each page carefully, and reinforce what you've learnt by trying the extra programming challenges at the end of each chapter. If you don't do this and just plough through from one chapter to the next, then before long it may start going over your head if you're not careful.

The second half of the book is generally excellent too, and worth reading if you're new to Python, even if you're not a new programmer. Object Orientated Programming is explained and adhered to nicely, and by using some of Python's pre-prepared libraries, you can jump from simple text manipulation to complex-looking Windows-style applications and games without much trouble.

Michael Dawson has a very understandable writing style.
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