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on May 24, 2009
This review compares the following four books:
Computer Networks by Peterson and Davie (P & D)
Computer Networks by Tanenbaum
Computer Networks by Comer / Internetworking with TCP/IP
Computer Networking by Kurose and Ross (K & R)

By far the best book in the list is "Computer Networking" by Kurose and Ross. This book covers all of the essential material that is in the other books but manages to do so in a relevant and entertaining way. This book is very up to date as seen by the release of the 5th Ed when the 4th Ed is barely two years old. There are lots of practical exercises using wireshark and the companion website is actually useful and relevant. The attitude of this book with regard to teaching networking concepts could be summed up as "try it out and see for yourself". One interesting thing to note is that the socket programming example are all in Java.

Next up is the Peterson and Davie book which covers everything that Kurose and Ross discuss but is slightly more mathematical in how it goes about things. There are a lot more numerical examples and defining of formulas in this book which is fine by me and in no way detracts from the book. Also the socket programming examples are in C which is a little more traditional. The points where this text loses ground to K & R is that it doesn't have the practical application exercises that K & R has and it also doesn't extend the basic networking theory that is covered to modern protocols like K & R.

The two Comer books come next. Comer's "Computer Networks" book is probably the most introductory book out of this whole list and is more of a survey of networking topics that doesn't cover anything in any real depth. Still, this is an excellent book in that it is a quick clear read that is very lucid in its explanations and you can't help feeling that you understand everything that is covered in the book. Comer's TCP/IP book is the equivalent of the other authors' computer network books and in that respect it is pretty average. It covers all of the relevant material and in a manner which is more than readable but that is all. There is nothing exceptional about the book which stands out from the rest.

Last comes Tanenbaum's book from the author who is probably most famous for his OS books. This is probably the most technical and detailed of the books with lots of sample C code belying is experience with operating systems and their network stack code. The weak point of this book is that all of the code and technical minutia might prevent the reader from seeing the forest for the trees. Unless you are trying to learn how to program your own network stack for a Unix/Linux system, then I would get either the K & R book or the P & D book to learn networking for the first time. This book would best be served as a reference in which case the technical nature of the book becomes a benefit rather than detracting from the text.
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on September 20, 2000
This is the best book to read for people who want to start into the world of computer networks, but may not come from a computer science background. If you've got a good background in CS, or are already familiar with computer/math theory, go get Andrew Tanenbaum's 'Computer Networks', as Comers book will probably not hold enough technical details for you.
This book does not require much rigorous/mathematical thinking to read through and gives a great introduction to many networking topics. (a quick example of this is how Comer mentions the CRC computing techniques only to a certain, friendly level while Tanenbaum's book jumps right into the explicit details of doing the computations by hand!!!)
In his over-all progression from the physical, data transmitting wires of a network to software application's that use networks, Comer covers a good chunk of what networks are and how they work without losing you in detail's involving lot's of 0's and 1's. :) And if after reading this book you're still hungry for more knowledge on what you'll then know to be Computer Networks, then go read Tanenbaum's book.
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on April 18, 2000
This is an excellent starting point for anyone who wants to learn more about the internet, networking and some of the underlying hardware architecture and software theories. A non-technical book, designed to give readers a general understanding. If you're new, unexperienced and feel a little intimidated, don't worry. Mr. Comer will guide you step by step and soon you will become familiar with some of the technologies used today. LAN/WAN? ATM? DNS? Switches? Routers? OC? TCP/IP? ICMP? FTP? SNMP? You will be able to define all of these and know what they are used for. Although remember, theory only! Mid-level networking professionals may gain a little knowledge by skimming through the book, but experience users will probably find this book a bore. This book is catered toward the novice, and it's a good one at that. A nice piece of work.
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on June 14, 2000
This book serves me well as an IT project trainee with no engineering background. I find this book wonderful as it covers a wide range of IT terms and concepts in a simplified (at least understandable to me) and structured way. Low from the types of wires (like copper wire and glass fibres) and transmission media (such as infrared and laser) and then layer 1 hardware, up the layers IP/TCP, sockets, DNS, technologies of FTP, CGI, Java, and lands on network security. It is not that technical in nature but explains the concepts and how each item works. It really helps me much in conceptual nature. So if you are an IT starter like me and looking for an elementary widely-covered book, I do recommend this for you.
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on July 5, 2005
This is a very superficial exposure to computer networks. If you have no previous knowledge on the subject, this would be a good place to start. However, if you already know the basics and want to get your hands dirty, go get Tannenbaum's Computer Networks - there you will find everything explained in detail.

One more thing about the book - in my opinion the author could have structured it much better - some chapters seem out of order. Also, as I noted above, it is a little stingy on facts...
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on September 4, 2009
This book gives a comprehensive overview of computer networks and internet. Since its coverage is broad, it does not go into much detail but gives one the general overview of computer networks. It is appropriate for someone who wants to understand how the internet works, but does not need an in depth knowledge.

The book is well written, non-mathematical and explains the concepts in a way that a beginner would understand. The chapters are short, concise and very readable, making it a very good introductory book on the subject. It covers almost anything you can think of in networking.
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on June 8, 1999
Comer beautifully explains all the fundamental concepts and terminologies in today's ever changing computer world. This book is very up-to-date with the current technological scene, so, I highly recommend this book. With the online help feature and CD, this book is extremely ready for today's use of the Internet. Also, this book is Y2K complaint! :-) Can't beat that.
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on October 1, 2002
I'm a CS student taking a Networks course so I could be considered a 'beginner'. This book is easy to read and understand and provides a great overview without being too bogged down in details. The short, concise chapters make it very readable. Great introduction to the subject!
My only gripe in that the file/folder names on the CD are corrupted and there isn't any support on the book's site.
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on June 2, 2002
I had to use this book for a networking class at my university. It presents a nice overview and goes a little in depth into various aspects of networking. It covers networking from the ground up, explaining each layer of the OSI and the components that compose each layer. I would recommend it to a beginner or amateur to networking.
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on June 1, 2000
What this book provides: --- This book explains the concepts of networking very clearly. You should be able to walk away from this book with the fundamentals on a variety of networking subjects. If you are looking for a book to give you an excellent introduction to networking, this is it.
What this book does not provide: --- This book will not make you an expert in any one subject. If you want to know everything that there is to know about routers, for example, then this is not the right book for you. END
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