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on 31 March 2014
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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on 22 September 2017
I like the book, enjoying it a lot, right about chapter 9 or so; although it is dense and it needs time to digest.
Pros:
- Very in-depth for 2.x and 3.x, really like how the author tackles subjects.
- Clear examples and goes in depth in all of them.
- So full of information that I feel I learn more than expected.
- Excellent as a reference as well.
- Excellent to learn how things really work in python, not a tutorial, not a simple guy, an in-depth killer book.
- Good set of quiz questions and also exercises.
- Good value for money.

Cons:
- Can be slightly dense.
- Some things are not extremely necessary and going too in-depth can cause the reader to think "when are we writing some code? c'mon".

Buy it, have it on your desk.
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on 14 April 2018
Despite the title, this seems to me good book as long as you don't need to learn Python from it. With such a long book, I would have hoped to cover the different areas first at an elementary level, to get an initial grasp of the whole field, then go over the same areas but at a more advanced level, then more advanced, up to proficiency. But no, the author dives in in excruciating detail leaving the reader exasperated and exhausted, so that you can read hundreds, thousands of pages, and not actually be able to do anything practical at all. With all due respect to the author's undoubted expertise, It seems to be written by a windbag who is too fond of his own writing and inflicting it on the poor reader who just wants to learn the language. After struggling to about halfway, I gave up and read the book with the same title by Fabrizio Romano, which gets you up and running and doing useful things in a fraction of the time. I do come back to this book for reference, though.
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on 31 March 2018
After reading 1000 pages of the book I think book is very good. As a data analyst with just a little knowledge of Java and basic OOP concepts I found this book have everything beginner need to start programming in Python. When I started to learn Python I used some web tutorials, but this book gives me better understanding of things and I have really learned a lot from it.
Lot of people see the size of the book as the downside, and I have to say it is depressing, but on the other hand I think see that as a benefit because book cover everything beginner need to learn to start to do some real quality programming, and I don't have to search for another sources. Anyway I don't think programming can be learned in one week after reading a 300 pages book, and shorter books don't cover this many topics.
There is a lot of repetiton in the book which for me personally is not bad because I see them as a reminders and if the topic is something I feel I really understand I simply skip it.
The only thing I don't like is that book's code which can be downloaded from publishers website is a complete unorganised mess, and poorly referenced in the book. So most of the time when I want I can't find the example code there, which make it completely useless.
So, if you have time and want to learn Python I recommend this book, but if you have a short deadline or you don't have a lot of patients you should definitely skip it.
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on 24 August 2014
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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on 5 October 2014
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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on 1 August 2015
Lutz is the leading teacher of programming in Python and this book is an excellent textbook for the language. It is rather long and Lutz often repeats himself, but I found that the comprehensiveness as well as repetition helped me as a student. There are very doable but useful exercise questions at the end of each chapters, with answers. It might be easier to read this as an ebook, considering its bulk, and read it over a long holiday with a computer on your lap.
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on 6 February 2017
Whilst I agree that it is rather wordy, and sometimes repeats itself, this does help you understand the subject.
The author states that this is not a reference book but a book on understanding the workings of Python.
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on 21 June 2017
As others have said, this book is not suited for the absolute beginner. However, if you spend a little while on introduction youtube tutorials learning the syntax beforehand, this book is an excellent bridge up to intermediate Python.
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on 29 March 2018
You know them books that explain absolutely everything in fine detail, ultimately overwhelming you and you forget what you was actually doing, this is one of them books

That being said its detail is good, but wouldn't recommend it for learning python(great reference though, although bit gutted it costs so much)
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