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Fair introduction to Python for an experienced programmer
am 5. Oktober 1999
First off I would like to make a distinction between the Python programming language and this particular introduction to it. Python is a great language and you will enjoy programming in it. This is probably the source of excitement in reviews on this page. Because the book, unfortunately, has a number of flaws.
The tradition of O'Reilly Perl books has been not only to teach you the syntax of Perl, but also to introduce programming techniques and ideas how to make best use of the language features. This Python book scores zero on these points. It focuses on syntax exclusively and this makes it unsuitable for an absolute beginner. The examples are unimaginative. The authors show you how to write correct code for using "dictionaries", but not how to USE "dictionaries". A Perl book author would throw in a program that uses a "hash" to search for duplicate data entries (as they did).
Besides, the flow of the book is uneven. Functions and classes are discussed at length, but built-in data types and exceptions are looked at only briefly. All this is really unfortunate because there are not very many Python books on the market and it is a very good language.
Overall, I think, this book is best for experienced programmers who already know their CS, have to get up to speed with Python very quickly, have $30 to waste, and really love to own O'Reilly books. The rest might be better off by printing out the Python tutorial.