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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but don't start here.
This is a very detailed book on Python, that teaches well and serves as an excellent reference. However, I wouldn't recommend it if you have no programming experience. There are some easier books to get started and this book serves better as an intermediate level text in my experience. Try Python Programming for Absolute Beginners and then polish your skills with this...
Published 11 months ago by Nick

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not suitable for beginners
This book is huge and goes into vast detail. There is considerable repetition, and it is jargon heavy. If you are an experienced programmer who came up via the computer science route, it will all make sense and you will be able to relate it to things you already know about. If not, you could find yourself drowning in a sea of words.
I'm leaving this review because I...
Published 15 months ago by Kupfernigk


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not suitable for beginners, 29 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Learning Python (Paperback)
This book is huge and goes into vast detail. There is considerable repetition, and it is jargon heavy. If you are an experienced programmer who came up via the computer science route, it will all make sense and you will be able to relate it to things you already know about. If not, you could find yourself drowning in a sea of words.
I'm leaving this review because I think the title is a bit misleading. The blurb describes it as an "easy to follow self-paced tutorial". I would not use this book as a general textbook to learn Python in this way. It is quite abstract. For instance, when the author starts on OOP, he seems to focus on how Python implements OO internally. The way that the interpreter searches for class members up a tree is part of the technical detail of the language itself, but it isn't much use to a programmer who just wants to convert some OO code from another language into Python, or someone who doesn't yet understand OO. At one point the author seems to be reassuring his audience that this OO stuff isn't really a new paradigm, it's just a slightly different way of doing the same thing that is already done by modules and packages.
I think the main use for this book is for someone who finds himself in a new job where there is a lot of pre-existing Python code to be maintained and added to, and where over the years a number of different approaches have been used so that he is constantly coming across new usage patterns, or the same thing done in different ways. For this, it is very good because of its exhaustive attention to detail. For someone who just wants to learn the basics of a programming language, this book could be extremely off-putting. For instance, although the author claims that the Python syntax makes it easier to understand than Java, there are plenty of excellent Java textbooks which explain OO and its Java implementation very clearly. Putting them side by side might well convince the beginner that Java is much easier to learn.
It certainly has a place and it is valuable that so much information is available in one place.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Needs condensing, 31 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Learning Python (Paperback)
The first thing that strikes you about this book is that it's big. 1500 pages big. Big enough that physically handling the book is inconvenient.

Upon reading it, you'll see that much of the size comes from repetition. Many of the chapters present alternative ways to do the same thing, often using this technique as an explanatory device; yet somehow, the author manages the doublethink of continually repeating the Python "There should be one-- and preferably only one --obvious way to do it" mantra.

The order in which the material is presented is wrong. The book explains Python's basic types before its syntax; this means it's 300 pages in before you can actually start writing code that does anything. It's 473 pages in before the concept of a function is introduced; even if this text was written for those who had done no previous programming at all, this seems bizarre. Obviously the sections on types have to talk a little bit about syntax and functions (otherwise you wouldn't be able to say anything about what those types actually do in the first few chapters), which is yet again a recipe for repetition.

Exercises are few and far between. There are "quizzes" at the end of each chapter, but they're very simple, knowledge-based questions which don't require you to write code. Programming is learned by doing, so you'll need to invent your own projects to do if you want to learn with this book.

If you can ignore the structural defects, the book is beautifully written at the detailed level, and the code examples are of a high standard. It is highly readable - you won't need to continually re-read to understand what's going on - but the repetition means you will find yourself skimming or skipping large sections of the text.

The book is a broad overview of a vast language; it is not a detailed API reference, and doesn't have examples of every possible API call. And neither should it be; all that stuff is online. It does explain the concepts well and give you an insight into why Python has evolved to be the way it is. However, if you're an experienced programmer looking for a quick way to break into the Python world, you might want to look for something a little more concise.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Informative but too long, 24 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Learning Python (Paperback)
The book is huge and gives a reader a deep understanding of Python both in 2.X and 3.X versions.
Everything is explained from all possible angles and with many (really, many) examples.
Why 3/5 then?

Well, often during reading this book I had a feeling, that the author was being paid by the number of pages. Often he described even the simplest ideas on two pages and repeated himself over and over again. Frankly, sometimes I thought that that he thinks a reader is an idiot.

Also the huge number of examples isn't such a great thing considering that after 5 or 10 trivial examples and getting what the idea is, you would expect a few more advanced to keep your brain working. But no, after that you get another 5 or 10 trivial examples which are just too similar to the previous ones. As a result most of this book is horribly boring (and that's really a lot of pages).

So to summarize - the book itself contains a great dose of knowledge but the same could've been fit to the half of the volume without losing any bit of information and understandability.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but don't start here., 18 Jan 2014
This review is from: Learning Python (Kindle Edition)
This is a very detailed book on Python, that teaches well and serves as an excellent reference. However, I wouldn't recommend it if you have no programming experience. There are some easier books to get started and this book serves better as an intermediate level text in my experience. Try Python Programming for Absolute Beginners and then polish your skills with this book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Laborious, boring and far too verbose, 6 Jan 2014
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D. Turner - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Learning Python (Paperback)
It's frustrating to find an author with such a wealth of knowledge who is unable to communicate it in a way which is easily digestible. There are simply too many unnecessary words in this book. It makes finding the content you want difficult, and learning from the content both laborious and boring. This book would benefit from a ruthless editor who could chop it down to half or even a third of the size whilst losing little of the important concepts of python.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Reference or Tutorial, 18 Sep 2014
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This review is from: Learning Python (Kindle Edition)
If you want to learn by example this book is not for you.
This book is 1600 pages of one line examples.
There are no example programs to follow that will help you learn.
By the time you get to page 230 (if you can stick with it) you have forgotten a lot of what you have read previously; it’s so boring.
The author claims the book is a tutorial and not a reference.
I disagree; it is more a reference and I would give it 5 stars if the book was promoted as such.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Kindle edition is rubbish, 24 Sep 2013
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Hopeless on kindle. Can't skip by chapter, index stretches over many pages etc. Attempting to "return" this copy.

Nothing wrong with the book at all. It's an established "go to" book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Good book, but useless on the kindle, 6 May 2014
This review is from: Learning Python (Paperback)
The book in itself is very good. I think there is all you need to know to work with Python as a programming language.

However, the kindle (I use a kindle reader on iPad), in my opinion is not made to for books like this. It is not possible to look through the table of contents as a tree, with ability to drill into submenus. The table of content is presented just the way it would be in a paper book. Flipping pages, however, is too slow for quickly flipping through the TOC. When accessing the TOC you always start at the beginning. But if you want to check content of Chapter 20 it will take you half a minute at best to work your way through.

For me the kindle is made to read Novels and not technical references.

Thankfully I noticed an Oreilly offer inside the book to upgrade to a PDF version of the book for $4. Now I can use PDF Expert to flip back and forth.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Frustratingly sloooooooow!, 19 Oct 2014
This review is from: Learning Python (Paperback)
If you already know how to program in some other language, this will prove frustratingly slow. If found myself reading whole chapters and thinking, I could rewrite the whole of that in a few sentences. Python comes with a built-in tutorial which is far superior.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Tuition for Python, 5 Oct 2014
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What an excellent and fully document book for starting Python. I do have Python in a Nutshell, but decided I needed to start a little earlier in the sequence. This is a huge book (some 1600 pages) and it is clearly written with lots of tips and repeated warnings of beginners mistakes.

It is based on lectures given by the author and feedback from the students. I am proceeding by leaps and bounds and find the code examples excellent. One can, of course, skip any which one does not need to do.

I read it on the train to work (despite its size) and find it possible to practise the exercises when I get home. Python is simpler to learn than C or C++ and the structure of the objects is natural. If only I'd structured my exam question as clearly!
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