I decided to learn Vim because I work on WinNT/2K, Linux, and Macintosh boxes. Using a single editor makes it easier to work on mulitple platforms.
My review of this book is mixed. First, it's the only book on Vim and it contains a lot of information, so that's a plus. Also, it shed a lot of light on using the editor that, frankly, the help files did not (you can look up *ANYTHING* via ":help <topic>", but the documentation is not very accessible to the new user). However, the typos, errors, bad grammar, and personal idiosyncracies of Mr. Oualline just have to be seen to be believed.
You can figure out most of the errors easily enough. For example, there's a reference to the non-BUI version of Vim (I think he meant GUI)and for some reason, in the word "filename", when used as an example (e.g., "type 'vim filename'"), the "fi" is sans-serif while the rest of the example text is in bold Courier. There are, however, numerous places where the diagrams don't match the example being discussed in the text or are just plain wrong. Some of these left me wondering if I had missed something, but trying out a command in Vim quickly showed the diagram was wrong. My favorite goof is where '#' (the command to search backwards for the word under the cursor) is shown in numerous places in Appendix C (pp. 445, 449, and elsewhere) as a British money sign (e.g., "/count/ L"), where L is the pound sign. Get it? Pound sign? Obviously the person who did the Appendices and Index (and copy-editing???) was not Mr. Oualline.
With regard to the content, I found that Mr. Oualline is very idiosyncratic. Vim is VERY flexible, using ancient Vi ways of doing things, as well as more modern ways that are easier to use. Take yanking (copying) a block of text to a register (like the clipboard). *Mouse way*: select lines, press y. *Visual way*: move cursor to top of lines to be selected, press V, select lines, press y. *Vi-ish way*: go to top of lines to be selected, press "ma" to drop a mark labeled "a", go to bottom of lines, type y'a (yank from current position to mark "a").
If you consider these different styles (mouse, visual, or Vi-ish) to approaching the same general problem, Mr. Oualline always goes with the Vi-ish style, to the point of also showing you in many cases how to precede the command with a line range instead of using marks. Where Ctrl-Wn (open a new window) will do, we get Ctrl-W Ctrl-N (equivalent). Where Ctrl-W<down> moves down one window, we get Ctrl-W Ctrl-J (the arrows aren't mentioned). My guess is that this is not how the majority of new users will use Vim (though it might be handy if you find yourself using Vi or Vim via telnet).
A real barrier to learning the editor is the immense number of variations for accomplishing a given task. Multiple keystrokes to accomplish the same thing, as well as different approaches. What would be great for Vim is an attempt to break down tasks into functional groupings (movement, formatting, programmer stuff, managing buffers/windows) and choose a style (probably visual mode, which is almost interchangeable with mouseing) so you can say "here's a good way to get started." The many variations can be left as an excercise for power users. They are available in the online help, anyway.
All in all, I learned a lot about Vim from this book. But if I hadn't been determined to do so, I would have given up. If you want to learn Vim and the online docs aren't doing it for you, buy this book. You've been warned, so just chuckle when you come across errors and general weirdness. Kudos to Mr. Oualline for writing a book, but don't give up your day job. :-) BIG raspberries to New Riders for letting this slip through without proper editing. And thanks to Bram, who put up an unofficial list of errata at www.vim.org.