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Learning Python, Fourth Edition

The "Learning X" series of O'Reilly books are a superb entry point to a programming language. They cater primarily for the beginner with no programming experience, and as such may seem very basic (although not useless) to somebody with experience in a language already. The books are well paced, clearly explained, and come with clear, coherent exercises, examples and questions.

The goal of 'Learning Python' is not to have you writing fully featured marketable and beautiful applications, but rather to give a solid foundation of basic to intermediate programming, to allow you to build up your skills and experience on self-guided projects, or perhaps with O'Reilly's "Programming Python" series of books. There is no specific system or scenario this book is aimed at programming with, rather they give a slightly more abstract and open view of the Python language, allowing you to apply your knowledge to situations such as UNIX, windows or system administration programming. As such, I would heartily recommend these books to the new programmer, and even to those with some experience in another language.

Poor points would be the pace of the book, if you have already experienced a programming language. However the books do make it clear which sections are potentially skippable in certain circumstances. The lack of object orientation, covered in 'Programming Python', may also be seen as a negative point by some.
Plus points would be the clarity and thoroughness of the book, all concepts are well defined and explained, and given thorough examples.

If you are learning a language for the first time, or if you want to apply your current programming knowledge as a beginner or intermediate programmer to Python, I would thoroughly recommend Learning Python (and indeed, any of the Learning series of books).

Daniel Lyons

Google

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