As a newbie to GIS, I was after a book that not only explained GIS is a straight forward structure, but actually taught me through hands on practice. And thats exactly what this book does. Its based on a US university course, so it goes from pretty much ground zero by way of a series of tasks and projects up to quite a high level. Its backed by a data disc that allows you to carry out all of the exercises and record results as you go. It is designed to be used in conjunction with ArcGIS software (version 10.0 to be precise), so you need to get a free time trial of that for the book to make sense. It is not designed as a stand alone read! The only comment to make (not really a critisism) is that ArcGIS is now 2 versions up 10.2 and so some text references to where atributes are held for example may have altered. True of any software guide of course. So full marks for an intuitive, no nonsense GIS primer and practical work book.
Excellent book for the complete GIS beginner. If you are looking for something to pick up and get started fast, this is not the thing; it is best for somebody looking to have a broad and thorough understanding of GIS processes. It gave me a very comprehensive understanding, equipping me with the skills to complete an undergraduate dissertation using GIS having not taken a GIS course previously.