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The Art of Assembly Language 2nd Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1593272074
ISBN-10: 1593272073
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Frequently Bought Together

  • The Art of Assembly Language
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  • Write Great Code, Volume 2: Thinking Low-Level, Writing High-Level
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Total price: $105.26
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"My flat-out favorite book of 2003 was Randall Hyde's The Art of Assembly Language."
- Software Developer Times

"You would be hard-pressed to find a better book on assembly out there."
- Security-Forums.com

"If you want to use assembly language, or add it to your list of programming skills, this is the book to have."
- Book News (Australia)

"The text is well authored and easy to understand. The tutorials are thoroughly explained, and the example code segments are superbly commented."
- TechIMO

About the Author

Randall Hyde is the author of Write Great Code Volumes 1 and 2 (No Starch Press) and the co-author of MASM 6.0 Bible (The Waite Group). He has written for Dr. Dobb ™s Journal, Byte, and various professional journals. Hyde taught assembly language at the University of California, Riverside for over a decade.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 760 pages
  • Publisher: No Starch Press; 2 edition (March 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593272073
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593272074
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #434,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael Ernest on July 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
I started reading assembly language by looking at object output from various C compilers. I learned a fair amount by writing gradually more complex programs and reading the corresponding assembler. But eventually I wanted a concept-driven perspective to help me understand more of the whys and wherefores. So I turned to Randall Hyde because I'd read two other books of his, Write Great Code: Volume 1: Understanding the Machine and Write Great Code, Volume 2: Thinking Low-Level, Writing High-Level. Vol. 2 inspired me in particular because its contents matched the subtitle well, and the book led me in a very likely direction for my interests.

I blithely assumed Art of Assembly would take things a step further, but it is not that book. It covers High Level Assembly, a software package of Hyde's invention that probably makes it easier for high-level language programmers to adapt to assembly code. The reader could learn enough HLA, Hyde proposes, to write low-level assembly directly. I think this point is questionable, and easily lost on some number of readers who are drawn in by the title. Not because it can't be done, but because most people adopting technologies on the go don't have the time or the need for small first steps into a complex, technically demanding topic. And why would you do this with HLA anyway, when you could immediately start doing this with C and the proper compiler switch?

The technical discussion is sometimes overwrought, as if to assuage the nervous reader that things are ok.
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I'm on a quest for a good book about assembly. I teach reverse engineering classes and many of my students ask what the best way to learn assembly is. Some day a decent book on Intel Assembly will be written, but that day is not today. Skip this book if you want to do anything mildly resembling real-world assembly. Paul Carter has a much better assembly book that is freely available for download. (Google "Paul Carter")

I think this book would be much more appropriate if it was titled "The Art of High Level Assembly." The current title borders on false advertising.
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Format: Paperback
I was somewhat taken aback when reading this book to see the first example bearing almost no resemblance to assembly language at all:

program helloWorld;
#include( "stdlib.hhf" )

begin helloWorld;

stdout.put( "Hello, World of Assembly Language", nl );

end helloWorld;

It looks far more like C++ or Pascal than assembly language. In fact, there's not a single assembly language instruction in that example. That's because it's written in the author's own HLA (High Level Assembly) language that provides a vast number of help libraries and functions to make writing assembly language easier. That's a really worthy goal, but I think starting with a non-assembly example is misleading and confusing. This book would have been much better if it had dived into assembly and built up to HLA as a 'better way'. I assume that the author's argument is that using HLA makes it easier for people to get started and hence more people are likely to stay with assembly as the details get more complex. Personally, I don't like that approach, but others may be reassured by it.

Happily, the author does get into the details of assembly language programming, but it's entwined with descriptions of HLA. For me the book is a disappointment, for others it may well be just what they need to get started. I am giving it 4 stars because it's well written and clear but has a misleading title. If you wanted some hard-core, down and dirty assembly book then this is the wrong one for you. If you want to learn about assembly language by taking a route that gets you started easily then this is a good book.
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Format: Paperback
I picked up Art of Assembly because I'm trying to brush up on my assembly programming skills. I've been programming in the higher languages for years but haven't even looked at assembly code since college.

I've looked at several books on the subject and most if not all include a library or two that the author created to speed the learning process. AoA takes that further by including an actual compiler of the author's own creation. However, as many have pointed out, one begins to question if this book would be more aptly titled, "Art of HLA". Take the following section from the book:

"The 80x86 CPU family provides from just over a hundred to many thousands of different machine instructions, depending on how you define a machine instruction. Even at the low end of the count (greater than 100), it appears as though there are far too many machine instructions to learn in a short time. Fortunately, you don't need to know all the machine instructions. In fact, most assembly language programs probably use around 30 different machine instructions. Indeed, you can certainly write several meaningful programs with only a few machine instructions. The purpose of this section is to provide a small handful of machine instructions so you can start writing simple HLA assembly language programs right away."

Besides the repetitive use of "machine instructions" in each and every sentence, the thing I noted was the last sentence...writing simple HLA. Maybe that was unintentional, but I wanted a book on assembly, not a book on Randal Hyde's Assembly Language which, as I kept going, this book seemed more and more geared toward. The first several chapters are all about HLA to the point where I started to question what this book was really teaching.
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