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The Agile Samurai: How Agile Masters Deliver Great Software (Pragmatic Programmers) Paperback – October 5, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


"This book is very well written. Rasmusson uses an entertaining writing style that makes it pleasant to read from beginning to end. What I like the most is the author experience. The way he presents the topics dealing with role assignation (chapter 2) and reality in agile planning (chapter 8) is simply remarkable."

—Computing Reviews

"The Agile Samurai is the book I wish I’d read before I started my last agile project. The chapters on agile project inception alone are worth the price of admission."

—Joshua Kerievsky, Founder and CEO, Industrial Logic, Inc.

"The Agile Samurai is exactly the book you and your team need to understand and deliver using the agile method. It makes the concepts tactile for everyone from the highest level of leadership to the people pushing forward on the front lines."
—Jessica Watson, Business Analyst,Shaw Communications


About the Author

As an experienced entrepreneur and former agile coach for ThoughtWorks, Jonathan Rasmusson has consulted internationally, helping others find better ways to work and play together. When not coaching his sons' hockey teams or cycling to work in the throes of a Canadian winter, Jonathan can be found sharing his experiences with agile delivery methods at his blog,


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Product Details

  • Series: Pragmatic Programmers
  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf; 1 edition (October 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934356581
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934356586
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

As someone who refuses to be defined by a simple title or role, Jonathan would describe himself as a developer with an intense interest in everything.

As a former agile coach at ThoughtWorks, Jonathan used to travel extensively introducing teams to agile software delivery. He has since settled down in Calgary Canada and now coaches his son's hockey team.

When not riding his bike in the throws of a Canadian winter, or prototyping his latest startup idea, you can find him sharing his insights and opinions on software delivery at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Knierim on July 25, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Over the last ten years, I've been working with teams with different degrees of commitment to the agile process, ranging from non-existing to quite strong. I was looking for a text that summarises agile methodology to help me formalise and articulate my own experiences, and of course to enhance my knowledge of some of the finer points of agile practices. I have to admit that this book did not meet my expectations. The first eighty pages up to chapter six are mostly about project inception and read like a prolonged introduction. From chapter six onwards, the author finally comes to the point and discusses the core concepts of agile processes, so the book does get better with increasing page numbers. Unfortunately, Scrum isn't discussed at all, instead Kanban is introduced in chapter eight. The discussion of typical technical processes, such as refactoring, TDD, and continuous integration is compacted into several brief chapters at the end of the book.

The writing style is very informal; the author uses a conversational tone throughout the book. Almost every page contains illustrations, which makes it an easy and quick read. The style of the book is comparable to the Head First books. It left me with the the impression that I sat in an all-day meeting where someone said a lot of intelligent things to which everyone else agreed. Unfortunately, not many of these things seemed radically new or thought-provoking, so I fear I won't remember many of them next month. Of course, this may be entirely my own fault. I prefer a more formal, concise, old-school language. I also prefer dense and meaty text books with lots of diagrams, numbers and formulas. In return, I can dispense with stick figures, pictograms, and even with Master Sensei (a guru character used in the book).
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Johanna Rothman on December 2, 2010
Format: Paperback
I knew I was going to like The Agile Samurai from the first page:

"Agile is a way of developing software that reminds us that although computers run the code, it's people who create and maintain it."

Jonathan Rasmussen, the Other JR, has written a great, short, to-the-point book about how to move a project to agile. From the beginning "Deliver something of value every week" to the Agile Principles sprinkled throughout the book, such as "The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams" to the conversations between the student and the Sensei, you can learn how to move your project from where it is to agile.

Some pieces I particularly like are:

1. All of Chapter 4, Seeing the Big Picture, where Jonathan suggests we need an elevator pitch for our project. I'm stealing this idea right away.
2. Chapter 8: Agile Planning, Dealing with Reality. After a humorous side trip with Murphy and his Law, Jonathan introduces us to burndown, burnup, and team velocity charts.
3. Chapter 15: Continuous Integration: Making it Production-Ready. What if you only had one hour to deploy your product. Could you? Jonathan walks you through what you need to do to make the code production ready.

Jonathan has great advice about how to know how agile you are:

"And don't forget. It's not about "being" agile. It's about building great products and delivering world class service to your customers."

This is a great book. If you are thinking of starting an agile journey, do yourself a favor and get this book. You will not be sorry.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Sean Feldman on October 19, 2010
Format: Paperback
What this book isn't: boring theory about agile methodology and history of "how did it all start". This book is neither source of THE secret of agile software development.

What this book is: a great and valuable source of reality connected simple facts that would allow you to re-evaluate how you build your software. Inception Deck is a great tool to kick off a project. Project planning and execution from agile point of view and with developers in mind are chapters that logically explain how to address everyday issues on traditional projects. This book is about achieving targets by going with simplicity.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jean-Paul S. Boodhoo on December 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
When it comes to books on programming, some of my favourite are ones that leave you with practical advice and guidance that is drawn directly from the trenches of applying and refining the concepts. The pragmatic bookshelf is indicative of this style of writing, and I often do not hesitate to recommend lots of their books to people that I work with.

The bookshelf now has claim to another great book that is written by someone that I once had the honour of working with. The Agile Samurai is a great book that comes straight from the trenches of working, refinining, and applying agile practices. Jonathan Rasmusson ("JR"), is a master programmer, iteration manager, and general jack of all software trades. I would be able to recommend the book alone just based on the content that is within the pages, but I can recommend it even stronger knowing that JR has condensed into its pages the dissemination of practices, war wounds, and nuggets that could only have been gleaned by someone who has proven each of the techniques on projects of all sizes.

I gave the following recommendation in the opening sections of the book:

This book was written with the insight and clarity that can only come from a person who has proved these techniques in the trenches. I have read many books on agile software development; this is by far the most engaging, easy to read, and just plain fun of them all. Get ready to sharpen that sword!

For fun, you may also want to check out the awesome Bruce Lee promotional video, that JR put together for the book (it is hilarious).

Enjoy sharpening the sword!!

JP Boodhoo
Software Artist
Develop With Passion®
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