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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars
3.1 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 5 August 2005
If, like me and many other programmers, you are already somewhat familiar with C++ and Perl, you'll find this book slow moving. I would guess that few people start with Python as their first major programming language.
I'm about 40% through the book and we've only just covered function calls, and nothing OO. There's only been 4 or 5 new concepts so far that aren't identical to other common languages.
The author does go some way towards saying "this is similar to the C idea of ..." or "those familiar with C++ will recognise the similarities...". But what would be really useful would be a big bar next to the few concepts that are fundamentally different, saying "!!!Python Specific!!!" or something.
Having said that, there's few typos and the writing style is reasonable. I'd like to give it 3.5 stars really.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 April 2008
While this book may be helpful to experienced programmers who are new to Python, it's emphatically not for those who are hoping to learn programming.

The authors claim that the only prerequisite for readers is that they know how to use a computer. Sorry, but this really isn't the case at all.

I don't think I'm a total beginner - In the past, I've had some experience of writing both games and business applications - but after a few weeks of trying to use this book, I've had enough.

Essentially, here's what to expect from the average chapter: 30 or 40 pages of dry as dust descriptions of various aspects of the language, mostly without any hint of why they are useful or important. The examples given along the way are mostly just 2 or three line of coding which still fail to give the slightest hint why the particular command is useful or worth remembering. Those who have previous programming experience will already know, but this is supposed to be a book for beginners, who will just be increasingly confused.

Finally, after all the many, many pages of explanations, you get a page or two of practical exercises. Alas, by this time the beginner has forgotten the reams of information already provided, having had no incentive to remember it in the first place.

My 2-star review is based on the fact that this book markets itself as being for total beginners. It isn't. If you are an experienced programmer looking to learn Python, this book MIGHT be for you. If you're a beginner looking to learn programming, this book has only one use: as a cure for insomnia.
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on 26 April 2008
I've been learning Python from this book now for a few months. The book is well written, it's clear and the authors 'take care' of the reader. However I doubt whether many total beginners (as I was and still am) are going to read this book and finish feeling that they can now go away and start to work out how to write a decent, simple program. The problem as I see it is that whilst there are good, well explained examples of what a FOR loop might be, and what you would be typing if you want to use functions, WHY you might be wanting to do this is often not covered. It's a bit like learning French by learning the punctuation, the alphabet, the pronunciation, and the vocabulary without knowing what the meaning of the words are, how they are used or how to make sentences. Many more examples of how one might display graphical output for budding gamewriters, or how one might use Windows style interfaces for those who want to write applications are needed for the content of this book to make sense. What is missing here is 'the point' behind learning to program. It's a very 'bottom-up' approach.

Having said that, this book is great for when you might need clarification on elements of Python, and as a general detailed resource on Python fundamentals.
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on 2 March 2006
I'd like to balance out the reviews here by offering this book the minimum score. The book advertises itself as being appropriate for a first-time programmer, but honestly it's nothing of the sort, and I'm not even a complete first-timer.
The first two or three chapters are decent enough, and chapter 3 introduces you to the use of modules, and you're writing little programs that do something, and you're feeling good about things... But then the four chapters after that are little more than a geeks' list of features of the Python language (and what makes it different from or similar to C). There is not one single practical example of a program that actually does something useful. It's all just showing what each feature does at the command line. Utterly uninspiring...
And all the references to the C language - "this is a bit like arrays in C". Are you a beginner? Do you know C? Suppose not... Not for a beginner, at all.
And the Monty Python references... Well, if you didn't guess that this language was put together by Monty Python fans (in my naivety, I didn't), you'll know it after dredging through a chapter of this book. Every single example (that's the way it seems, at least) uses a string like "ni!", "always look on the bright side of life", "print 'dead' + 'parrot'", "I'm a lumberjack and..." OK, you get the idea. Please get a life, lads.
Or are you just trying to preserve the Python membership club as an exclusively "Geeks Only" institution?
I've given up on this book for now. Maybe there'll come a day when I'll wear a tee-shirt that says "SPAM", and I'll have nothing but praise, but If you're a beginner, and you want to save a bit of money, I'd suggest looking at Josh Cogliati's online tutorial. It's a PDF, so you can print it up nicely. He does little proggies that you can work through, and see what the POINT of the thing is. I don't suppose that he goes all the way with the thing (as he says at the end, he lost interest in writing more), but what he did do was pretty handy. No doubt there's quite a lot of other good stuff that you can find on the web. It's bound to be better than this totally unimaginative book. I guess that I'll just be learning as much as I can from Cogliati and other web sources, picking up the pocket reference book, and throwing this book in the same place that I put the spam.
Unless somebody wants to buy it off me? Ni!
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on 3 March 2009
This book is an excellent programming aid for both absolute beginners and more experienced programmers. It provides all the basic knowledge to start programming or tweak other peoples Python basic programs, and explains the concepts of object oriented programming(OOP) in a very clear way, gradually increasing the level of complexity,with good examples throughout.
Python itself is an extremely elegant basic, and in its present form v 3.0.1, very easy to start using. It has a text editor IDLE to write the code and a shell window to run or test it. It is an interpreted rather than a compiled language, so it runs immediately without the intermediate compiling step The book explains this usage well.
Although the later sections made my brain hurt at first, as I had not come across the OOP concepts before, I would recommend it thoroughly.
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on 27 February 2011
I`m very lucky that Amazon provides samples of the book to Kindle owners. After four chapters I was totally bored and not progressing at all. After four long chapters the author starts to introduce the numeric data type. Very slow! Not reccomended if you want a real hands on book.
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on 31 March 2016
I always like the quality of "Leaning x" books.
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