Python in a Nutshell, by Alex Martelli, 2003 O'Reilly, 636 pages.
Perhaps the best book about Python ever written, this book is the perfect
capstone to anyone's library of Pythonic books, and also the perfect introduction
to Python for anyone well versed in other programming languages. For newbies
to programming, this would still be a good second book after a good introductory
book on Python, such as Learning Python by Mark Lutz.
Written by my favorite author and Pythonista, Alex Martelli, this book manages
to fill three roles in extremely pleasing fashion. First and foremost to
me, it is a great read, straight through. Mr. Martelli's prose is always
sparkling and always keeps the reader interested. No matter how many Python
books you have read, you will learn some nuances from this book, and it is
about the best review of the whole Pythonic subject matter that I can imagine.
While there is absolutely no fluff whatsoever in these 636 pages, it still
makes for rather easy reading because the explanations are so clearly thought
out and explored as to lead one gently to understanding, without in any way
being verbose. It is obvious that Alex Martelli took his time and put in
sufficient thought, effort, and intellectual elbow-grease to make this work
a classic for all time.
Secondly, this book is the ultimate Pythonic reference book, the best fit
to this role I have yet seen. You will keep this book in the most cherished
spot on your book shelf, or else right at your side on your computer desk,
because you can almost instantly find any topic on which you need to brush
up, in the midst of a programminng project.
Third, Python in a Nutshell is the most up-to-date book on Python (as of
April 2003) and includes the best and most complete expositions yet on the
new features introduced in Python 2.2 and 2.3. These topics are not only
covered in depth, they are integrated into the text in their proper positions
and relationships to the language as a whole. They are explained better here
than I have seen anywhere else, so much so as to make them not only understandable
to me (a duffer), but indeed so that they appear seamlessly Pythonic, as
if they had been a part of the language since version 1.0. Topics explored
in depth include new style classes, static methods, class methods, nested scopes, iterators,
generators, and new style division. List comprehensions are made not only
comprehesible but indeed intuitive.
The book is surprisingly complete. It covers the core language as well as
the most popular libraries and extension modules. It is difficult to choose
any one portion of the book to highlight for extra praise, as all topics
are treated so well. It is a complete book, the new definitive book about
Everything about this book speaks of quality. In addition to the top notch
writing and editing, O'Reilly really did the right thing and published this
book printed on the highest quality paper, paper so thin that the 636 pages
are encompassed in a book much thinner than one would expect for such a size,
but strong enough to resist wear and tear. The text is most pleasing to the
eye. Holding the book, and turning its pages, gives one a feeling of
Any job worth doing is worth doing well. Alex Martelli and O'Reilly have
done justice to a topic dear to our hearts, the Python programming language.
Perhaps, in years to come, the passing time may make this book be no longer
the most up-to-date reference on the newest features added to Python. But
time can not erase the quality craftsmanship and the shear joy of reading
such a well thought out masterpiece of Pythonic literature.