Python in a Nutshell

By Alex Martelli

Python in a Nutshell is the latest addition to the small array of books that  are always on my desk. The others are Present Day Political Organization in China, The Little Lisper, Practical C++ Programming, Van Dale Nederlands-Engels, The Nine Songs, The Songs of the South, An Introduction to Buddhism, Learning the VI Editor, GUI Programming with Python using the Qt Toolkit, Mastering Regular Expressions, The Concise Oxford, Python Cookbook and Het Romeinse Leger. One thing is clear: out of 14 books, 5 are O’Reilly titles. I must be a programmer.

  • Author: Alex Martelli
  • Title: Python in a Nutshell
  • Pages: 636
  • Published: 2003
  • Publisher: O’Reilly
  • ISBN: 0596001886

Python in a Nutshell could have been the third or fourth paper reprint of the on-line Python documentation library. It isn’t. With excellent clarity, conciseness and preciseness, Martelli explains the Python language and introduces many of the included libraries.

Chapter 4 is [ETA: was. Not any more.] available in PDF format from the O’Reilly website. This is the chapter that explains the Python language itself, and is therefore an actually useful selection. Sometimes O’Reilly has a tendency to choose the least interesting chapter to demo (as with OS X for Java Geeks), but this chapter demonstrates the good points of Martelli’s writing while giving the reader immediately useful information.

I thought the lack of mention of PyQt a bit disappointing, naturally… But GUI’s don’t get much attention anyway, in a nutshell type book. Highlights, apart from the abovementioned chapter 4 are the chapters on Strings, Threading and Debugging.

All in all, 636 pages of well-indexed knowledge and experience. Well worth the rather exorbitant sum of €44,- — the US price is only $34,95, which would translate to about 30 euros at the current rate of exchange.