For a start, perl is the ultimate data manipulation language. That makes it perfect for a vast variety of fields, network people, bioinformatics, all sorts. For an absolute beginner to all programming then this book is probably just slightly beyond your reach. I would go for "Learning Perl". However if you know what a programming language is and you are familiar with how programs function in general then you should not have much trouble just picking this book up and ploughing through it. Programming Perl is a joy to read and work through. It talks in a nice and friendly language and you don't really realise that you are learning things. It takes you through each of the fundamental topics in perl and tells you why they work when you need to know and what they are useful for. This book is also a great reference. It has a large section at the back of the book which covers all the perl commands worth knowing, and how to use them. If you are thinking about learning perl then this book is absolutly essential. Every perl programmer has a copy, and you should too.