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Keywords: Java, J2SE 5.0, introduction
Title: Java Garage
Author: Eben Hewitt
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Verdict: Not recommended.
"So none of this long claptrap with 5,000 pages, and I'm breaking my wrist carrying that sheet to work, and all I need is for my wrist to get jiggy with the exchange server come 5 p.m., if you know what I'm sayin"
Huh? This is a book that tries so hard to be hot, fast, furious and cool. Tries way too hard and fails, ultimately. The author's stated intention, once you wade through the introductory chapter from which the quote is taken, is to provide a book that cuts to the chase and delivers the goods without detours and needless forays into programming theory, history or any of the other causes of book-bloat. It's a laudable aim. But unfortunately the end result simply does not stand scrutiny compared to a number of other books aimed at the same target audience of programmers wanting to get to grips with Java.
Firstly there's the problem of the breathless prose. It gets in the way. It doesn't shine any light on the topics at hand and the self-conscious attempts to be weird or wacky aren't much fun to read. Computer books don't have to be boring, but there are plenty of examples of interesting, well-written books that are funny and informative at the same time (recent examples include Just Java 2, Dive Into Python, Head First Java to name but three).
If that were not enough the book is sadly let down by the design. The source code is not only formatted badly, but is actually wrong in a number of places. And if you want to download the corrected version then think again, there's no sign of it on the associated web site. There are numerous typos in the text too. While an experience programmer will work out what's going on, anyone who's only just starting is likely to have to spend time puzzling things out because the book is trying too hard to be fun.
We could go on about the odd ordering of topics, the pointless diversions (a chapter on lamb chops and martini) and so on but there's no point. It's a shame because there's some useful information here but it's hidden under the glib surface. If you want an entertaining introduction to Java then there's Head First Java or Just Java 2. This one does not get the TechBookReport seal of approval.