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This is a thick book, and the reason for this, is that it's jam packed full of information. This is information is complete, current, relevant and useful. This really is the best general Perl book I've come across.

This book can be used by Perl programmers of many levels. It's not too useful for the beginner or novice, but if you're the sort of programmer which has written a good few scripts, maybe some quite long ones, can update others code easily and occasionally has an expert look over your shoulder and you understand his advice, then this is the book for you. Not only intermediate programmers will benefit, even after my ten years (on and off) Perl experience, there was still things for me to learn. I's perfectly pitched for intermediate to advanced, not novice or expert.

It's very difficult for a Perl book to start without the ubiquitous 'Download and Install' section, and here we have one. I must admit, I did skip this chapter, but it was pretty much the only one.

You might think the 'Basic Concepts' section is just another syntax explanation, but it's not. It is, in fact, a very good example of the quality of the book. Here you find that amongst things you thought you knew, there is a wealth of information and it's when you find these gems, because you didn't skip the sections, that you realise there is a lot to learn still and that this book is going to to take ages to read, but you'll want to read it, oh yes.

You'll want to read it because it's written very well. It has words as well as examples. The patter is medium paced and not at all patronising. There are tips, caveats and 'this is useful'. The examples are small when they need to be small and verbose when then need to be big, but they are not full of padding. There is no showing off things he's written and no flashy or inappropriate technique, just illustrative, well chosen examples.

There are 10 chapters on the Perl language, 6 chapters on practical Perl usage, such as IO, errors, debugging and profiling followed by 6 big chapters on Text Processing, OOP, Extending & Embedding, Signals Processes & Threads, Networking and Localisation, all of which are fantastic.

This is very definitely a Perl language book, rather than an application book. You're not going to know how to talk to databases, build web applications or shake, rattle and roll a whole bunch of DNA data. It's not a techniques book. It doesn't tell you to use strict at every turn, it doesn't tell not to use do...while loops, it doesn't need to.

After reading this book, you will be in possession of the tools and techniques to use the Perl language very very effectively and have a great quality reference manual to hand. It's the perfect stepping stone into advanced programming and some of the more complex applications books.

Steve Marvell is the Proprietor of an IT Solutions Provider based in the South West of England and runs the Devon and Cornwall Perl Mongers.

This review may be used, in full, including this message, by anyone, but may not be edited without the author's permission.

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