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Java 2: The Complete Reference, Fth. Edition by Herbert Schildt (Osborne/McGraw-Hill)

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This nice, fat volume is much more than a reference book. It's packed with example code, clear definitions of the fundamental language elements, and lots of side notes to fill in those "Why the heck do they do it like that?" moments. Half of the book is devoted to the Java Library, which I find really convenient. (I know this stuff is available online, but I love to have a book at my fingertips.)
Updated to cover the JDK 1.3, software development using JavaBeans and Swing is in there. There's also a chapter given to making the pilgrimage from C++ to Java. No exercises for the beginner, but there are 4 programs laid out with source code and development process at the end of the book showing how things can be done. One of these is a multiplayer, networked, client/server game. Well-indexed information right there whenever you need it! Worth checking out.
(Carol Murphy - Ranch Hand, November 2001)
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