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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A literate companion for the inquisitive C++ apprentice, 29 Mar 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Late Night Guide to C++ (Paperback)
Its flawless elegance and penetrating analysis make this one of my favorite books, ever.

Nigel Chapman hooked me with his description of the programmer toiling away into the night. His hero was not rushing to meet a deadline. She was not learning C++ in 24 hours. She was driven by a desire to transpose a vision into code. She felt she had to go beyond blind application of formulae and attain a deep understanding of why things worked the way they did, or why they didn't when they didn't. This resonated strongly with my aims in learning programming at the time. This book is not for people who think that their work is done when they've copied Herbert Schildt's latest re-pasted samples into their GUI code.

In a radical departure from the typical mid-introductory programming language book, Nigel Chapman aims his smart, restrained prose at thinking adults. He never writes down at the reader. He manages to keep his style personal and engagingly speculative while maintaining a very high density of substance throughout the book. Chapman's understated sense of humor deserves a special mention.

The chapters are organized in terms of conceptual milestones. Since I have found that conceptual adjustment is the biggest problem when coming to C++ from a non-object-oriented background, I was relieved to be spared another listing of operators and their precedence as an excuse for a whole chapter. Of course, most of the reference elements are there, touched upon when needed. Chapman simply prefers to explore multiple inheritance from many different angles instead of devoting 30 pages to examples of the use of cout.

Some may find Chapman's sample code woefully abstract and removed from their real-world concerns. His examples do nonetheless combine enough of a variety of techniques to get the reader thinking in C++, and I would argue in very literate C++ at that. The truly wonderful thing about the examples is that they always nonchalantly introduce some profound element, be it a cogent way of implementing a paradigmatic data structure in C++ or a powerful way of modeling a real-world problem in an object-oriented programming language. You may read the example a couple of times and think interesting thoughts about the limits of overloading. Then all of a sudden it will dawn on you: it also nicely exposes a key problem in network topology!

Chapman often goes to great length carefully weighing implementation options in terms performance, maintainability, and, last but not least for the aspiring literate programmer, elegance. While some of these analyses seem to offer little in terms of immediate applicability, they make the reader aware of the more arcane issues in C++ programming and object-oriented methodology. Nigel Chapman obviously believes that delving into background intricacies pays off royally in the longer term.

This book is a joy to read and re-read. The loftiness of its discourse puts it in a league with Bjarne Stroustrup's "The C++ Programming Language". The lessons to be learned go far beyond the nitty-gritty of coding C++. They may well last a lifetime. Of course, on my desk next to my computer I keep a copy of some solid, if replaceable, C++ reference text.
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The Late Night Guide to C++
The Late Night Guide to C++ by Dr. Nigel Chapman (Paperback - 13 Aug 1996)
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