It is not easy to write programming books. How does one do it? Start with the code first and then an example? Or find a context and then introduce the language? This book is different. It is like a conversation between the writers and the reader, rather two programmers.
Every topic of Perl is dealt with individually, as a step at a time, with the most relevant features demonstrated using snippets of code. Admittedly, the nature of Perl lends itself to this: it is best to learn it by doing, trying and testing it.
The book is organised in thirteen chapters covering an apt set of topics ranging from the basics to expressions to warnings to databases. The chapters are followed by a valuable resource list in Appendix A, which is always welcome.
If I were to pick one, Chapter 5 is as detailed a section on filehandles in Perl as you would find. One has to have some access to a practical environment to benefit from the `conversation' the authors are having with the reader: the subtext behind the mingled text and code is an attempt to read the developer's mind, nurturing and coaching him into using the language. I find this approach largely effective.
The book is well formatted in a slim version. It is ideal for beginners and students getting to grips with Perl. For experienced developers, I am sure they will find a rich variety of books on Perl that compete with this.
Overall, I find the book highly readable and accessible, with topics laid out clearly and purposefully. For a book dedicated to programming, this one is well written.