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Core Java 2, Fundamentals
by Cay Horstmann, Gary Cornell

Prentice Hall PTR
7th edition
August 2004
784 pages

Reviewed by Thomas Paul, December 2004
  (7 of 10)

This is the seventh edition of this book and in some ways it hasn't changed much since the first edition. The first edition was aimed at C++ programmers who were looking to transition to the new language. The seventh edition is still fast-paced and detailed and aimed for the experienced programmer. The authors assume that you already know the basics of programming even if it isn't with an object oriented language. The book might make a fairly good college textbook but not as a first language.

The book covers the main areas that you would expect in an introductory Java book with a few surprises. The book gives a little bit of the history of Java and shows how to install and run Java from the console and Eclipse (but not NetBeans). There is an early introduction to reflection but exception handling isn't covered until well into the book. Swing is covered in a fair level of depth. J2SE 5.0 changes are covered throughout the book with the many examples written to show off the new additions to the language. Threading and Collections are not covered.

Overall this is a well written book who is the target audience? How many C++ programmers can be left that don't already know Java? For an introductory tutorial this book may be a bit too advanced. Through seven editions, Core Java has changed little other than to reflect language changes. Perhaps it's time to rethink the franchise.

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Core Java(TM) 2, Volume II--Advanced Features
by Cay S. Horstmann, Gary Cornell, Cay Horstmann, Gary Cornell

Prentice Hall PTR
8 edition
April 2008
1056 pages

Reviewed by Michael Ernest, May 2008
  (10 of 10)

In my review of Professional Java JDK 6 Edition, I said I didn't think one book could cover so many topics and serve the reader well. This volume is an exception that proves the point.

It is a monster book, easily several months of steady work to get through, and an useful reference afterwards as well. It is well put together, clearly written, methodically presented. I wouldn't put it down if that were possible. The coverage is broad and the examples are interesting. The topics also feel complete, not because they are thorough, but because they leave off right where intermediate-level programmers could work out most details on their own.

I read the first and second editions years ago. I must say this title is a case study in steady, disciplined, tireless improvement and refinement of the original. It's 990 pages, but I haven't come across a useless sentence yet. The authors haven't just added on. They've refined their examples, improved and replaced others. Most importantly, they've realized a format that puts boilerplate and API tables to the side, allowing the reader to focus on the concept at hand. Complete code listings are presented in a way that's easy to pass over in favor of the files available by download.

If you need lots of code work on different topics to urn Java into your fingertips -- and there is no better way to do it -- this book is an excellent choice

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Prentice Hall PTR
7th edition
December 2004
1024 pages

Reviewed by David O'Meara, April 2005
  (8 of 10)

I've always been impressed with the quality of the 'Core' series and happily this book is no exception.

My first impression of "Core Java 2, Volume 2 - Advanced Features" (7th Edition) was that the book contained too much information and was too small for the task it had set itself. However it didn't long for me to revise this perception.

Java 5 includes a huge number of new features. This book does its best to expose you to the new features and doesn't give a definitive example for each part, but provides at least enough so you know what they're for and can spot them in the wild. The examples strike the right balance between length and detail so that you're onto the next topic before getting bogged down in the current one. There is a good mixture of code snippets and full source included, though sometimes I felt the excess could have been trimmed for a few of them.

Personally I loved the coverage of Threading, Collections, Security and XML, but there was enough in each chapter to make it worth reading.

This is an excellent resource for any programmer looking for a quality Java 5 text, although you'll want to consider pairing it with volume one if you lack programming experience. Whether you have experience with the features in the new version or not, the depth of information makes it an important book to add to your bookshelf.

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