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on 27 October 1997
Programming languages and development tools may have changed since the first edition of this book, but the problems that arise during a software project development are still the same: lack of communication, division of labor, schedules, etc. Fred Brooks presents case studies where there were such problems and how to face it.
This book is a little bit dated on technical matters, but no book on software management has been so timeless as The Mythical Man-Month.
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on 16 July 2017
Great book, some of the concepts feel dated but even though, most of the books topics can still be applied to today's software development projects, like adding personnel to an already late project won't speed it up and can actually make it later and the main take away in my opinion: men and months are not interchangeable when it comes to any type of work where communication is key.
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on 16 October 2016
First read at Uni. Moved to electronic edition as the paper version is a bit worn out.

As others before me have said, reread annually.
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on 25 January 2016
Not the easiest book to read, but absolutely fascinating.
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on 12 April 2017
Very good book. Regret didn't read before.
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on 17 August 2009
This a classic work, and as valuable today as it was in 1975. It is mainly a collection of essays, each focusing a different issue in software engineering and management. The book is full of gems like "All programmers are optimists: All will go well", the famous Brook's law "Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later", "Bearing of a child takes nine months, no matter how many women are assigned" and "An omelette, promised in two minutes, when not ready in two minutes, the customer has two choices - wait or eat it half-cooked. Software customers also have the same choices."

This is a great book for project managers but this certainly doesn't mean it is any less valuable for programmers. The theories Fred. Brooks pioneered 34 years back are now fundamentals of software engineering and project management. Some essays I found valuable in particular are "The Mythical Man-Month" where author discusses managing project schedules, "Plan to Throw One Away" where author discusses the change in user requirements and how to tackle these changes. The best of the lot is "No Silver Bullet", where author compares software construction to werewolves, who appears to be normal but can suddenly turn into monsters. Here author stresses that managing complexity is the essence of software engineering. It includes gems like "Software entities are more complex for their size than perhaps any other human construct, because no two parts are alike. If they are, we make the two similar parts into one, a subroutine. In this respect, software systems differ profoundly from computers, buildings, or automobiles, where repeated elements abound" and "The hardest single part of building a software system is deciding precisely what to built. No other part of the work so cripples the resulting system if done wrong. No other part is more difficult to rectify later". And it goes on to say that software construction is a creative process, the difference between good software design and great one does not necessarily depend on methods used to create the design, instead, great designs come from great designers.

There are a few essays which I didn't find very useful and it is there where this book looks somehow overrated. Anyways my only problem with this book is the language. For non-English speaker at places it becomes a tough read (though it is understandable given that it was written 35 years ago).

Summary: Highly recommended to software project managers as well as programmers.
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on 17 December 2004
One of the best books ever written about software development and computing in general.
Yes, it has dated in places but even so it is still very interesting and often incredibly insightful. The title essay (about how throwing additional people at an already late project simply makes it even later) and the essay about Second System Syndrome at particularly good.
It ought to be (but rather sadly is not) a must read for everybody working in IT.
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on 11 May 1997
This book is an amazing experience. Whether you come to it with the intention of learning more about how to manage software projects, or simply an interest in the black art of OS programmingit's guaranteed to be an exhiliarating ride. It's not only succinct, refusing to delve into details we wouldn't comprehend, it also contains enough general commentary to make it useful for anyone involved in large projects with creative people (which basically includes just about any form of productivity whatsoever). What makes the book approachable is Brooks' style, which can only be called simple. What keeps you interested in the book are the metaphoric range it has (calling OS programming a tar pit is a considerable reach of the imagination, and yet so obvious) and the rather pragmatic advise Brooks provides at every turn of the page. If you read the book carefully enough, you realize that it makes a series of suggestions about how computing is changing us and the way we create. Brooks may or may not have anticipated this, but his use of the distinction between "essential" and "accidental" difficulties forces one to think long and hard about how these are changing the world of the artist, and the world of art. Just how much writing today is a result of the writer's "liberation" from the static manuscript, either hand/typewritten? What does one lose when this discipline goes away, and what does one gain. Without the accidental difficulties, does tackling the essential ones lead us to inelegant solutions? Or does it simply extend our range, making it possible for more among us to create, and the creative genius to make more than he/she would have otherwise. Throughout the book, what kept coming back to me was the image of a Renaissance painter and his bevy of apprentices. One never knows to what extent the painting's essence was created by the master who drew the outlines and the students who painted the details.
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on 31 May 1996
One of the best technical overview books I've read. Brooks
was project lead for IBMs system 360 software and
articulates truths I have known and experienced personally
during the last fifteen years of software development.
I really enjoyed his understanding of the limits and
capabilities of the human mind, especially bandwidth
inside one mind compared to bandwidth between minds.
I found Brooks's combination of knowledge and humilty
appealing, and the whole book was a delight to read.

Paul Harper.
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on 8 April 2013
I read this book because it was referenced in other texts and recommended to me many many times.

Yes it is an interesting book. But, it does presume that you have a certain level of knowledge about how the computer industry worked during the author's heyday.

You'd get alot more out of this book if you have read-up on the history of operating systems first. So, a good pre-cursor to this book would be
* Chapter 2 and 3 of The Art of Unix Programming (Addison-Wesley Professional Computing), or
Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software
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