About a year ago I bought this book when Scott Guthrie promoted a deal on it at Amazon. This was probably the biggest technology book I’ve ever read and it took me months to read and not only because of the size but because it was boooring.
Most of the book is written by Bill Evjen (as far as I understand) and his chapters are very dry and not very different from just browsing through MSDN documentation. There are almost no personal opinions, recommendations or anything. Just plain reference.
Some chapters are written by Scott Hanselman and you can see it right from the start. These chapters offer opinions, advices and you can see a person behind them. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I prefer seeing a person behind a book or an article rather than reading a book which looks like it’s written by some technical documentation team. Unfortunately only a few chapters are authored by Scott.
I couldn’t identify chapters by Devin Rader so he either writes indistinguishably from Bill or Scott :)
The other point to criticize would be the fact that book has samples in both C# and VB. I understand that it’s easier to publish one book instead of two but the book could’ve been like 20-30% thinner and lighter and I wouldn’t have to decide against bringing it with me on the flight (yes, it’s that heavy). And, you know, 300-400 useless pages for almost every reader (either VB or C# developers) doesn’t help preserve Amazonia forests.
Overall this is not a bad book if you are looking for printed ASP.NET reference but not quite a good read if you want some insight, recommendations and depth.
Verdict: complete but dry and boring.
Other recommended books about ASP.NET: 4 years ago I’ve read Programming Microsoft ASP.NET 2.0 Applications: Advanced Topics by Dino Esposito and it was really good. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem that there’s an updated edition of this book by Dino, but there’s other book called Programming Microsoft ASP.NET 3.5. I’m not sure how this new book is related to the older ones (in terms of topics) but I really like Dino Esposito’s style and depth of his books.