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Key Java: Advanced Tips and Techniques (Practitioner Series) Paperback – July 10, 1998
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The content level of Key Java is head and shoulders above most java books. Those few books with comparable content usually fail in some other dimension (clarity, accessibility, brevity, completeness, non-trivial examples). The writing style is a bit dry and academic, but the author is obviously no stranger to serious programming.
Many java books are filled with either relentlessly detailed - but not informative - examination of the topic, or with smoothly written but empty prose. Key Java's chapters are excellently written for "I need it NOW" reading, and each one clearly explains the topic, both in concept and in practice. I won't say you'll be able to read through a chapter and become a master of the topic; some of these topics are seriously complex and take some measure of mulling over and contemplation. But invariably, in the past, when I've tackled a new concept in Java, I've had to read the same topic in five or more different books to get the complete picture. This is not the case with _Key Java_.
This book easily makes it into my top five favorite java books, and is contending with a few others (Bruce Eckel's _Thinking In Java_, etc) for the #1 position. However, Key Java's approach and nuts 'n bolts discussions of advanced-but-not-theoretical java topics make it much more of a complementary book than a competitor, a fine addition to any java bookshelf.
One thing I'm particularly happy about is the form factor of the book - too many java books are tomes that risk breaking your wrist (or your foot if you drop it). There's a prevailing mindset in technical book publishing that the thicker the book, the better (the thicker the spine, the more bookstore shelf real estate you get for your book to advertise itself). Key Java is concise and focused, and the form factor reflects that; I carried it around in my large coat pocket to read as the mood struck me for a couple of weeks.