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The ACCU passes on review copies of computer books to its members for them to review. The result is a large, high quality collection of book reviews by programmers, for programmers. Currently there are 1918 reviews in the database and more every month.
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Title:
C++ Black Book
Author:
Steven Holzner
ISBN:
1 57610 777 9
Publisher:
Coriolis Group
Pages:
797pp&CD
Price:
£41-99
Reviewer:
Francis Glassborow
Subject:
beginner's c++
Appeared in:
13-2
This is one of those books that I find hard to review because it does nothing seriously wrong and yet seems not to meet any of its promises. The sub-title is Comprehensive Problem Solver, which is plain ridiculous and the book makes no effort to meet that promise. The back cover classifies it as 'Beginner to Advanced'. I cannot imagine any book that could even approach that other than a pure reference book in which you could look up details at any level. So I decided to test such a use and looked up list in the index. There I found four entries

Page 649 where I found a listing of eleven STL containers (but he seems to forget that both a raw array and basic_string are sequence containers)

Page 654 where he lists six sequence containers (still no array or basic_string) in which he includes queue, priority_queue and stack. Those latter containers are normally classified as adaptors and do not meet the STL sequence requirements.

Page 696 This is the first page of Chapter 16, Standard Template Library Containers whose 'In Depth' section is six pages long.

Pages 706-710 One of the author's 'Immediate Solutions' sections. For a list this starts with an incomplete listing of the methods of list. There follows a two page uncommented listing of the public interface of list before completing coverage of list with a trivial program (no input, so all the data is hard-coded) that does nothing to demonstrate a real use of a list.

I think the main problem with this book is that it goes into quite a lot of detail about some pretty fundamental things such as loops, but then lacks detail elsewhere. To be honest, I do not find the code examples add much value. For anyone above the level of weak intermediate in C++ it has very little to offer. Where I think it might be of some use is as a supporting reference book for students on a course where the lecturer or tutor rushes through things at too high a pace for some of them. However, I must warn that the book lacks the veneer of authority and often stops just when things get interesting. For example, the author makes no comment on why list has a sort member function (nor does he mention the rich range of 'sorting' algorithms that the STL provides).

In conclusion, this is a mediocre reference book with some potential limited use by someone who does not need a more complete one. However it is somewhat expensive for such usage. For not much more you could own both 'The C++ Programming Language' and 'The C++ Standard Library.' Such a pairing would be worth ten times as much.