Review: Sams Teach Yourself C++ in 21 Days

Sams Teach Yourself C++ in 21 days is a great, straightforward approach to learning all aspects and topics of C++. Within twenty-one days of a little reading and coding practice you'll have a firm understanding in C++ and adequate skills in designing programs.

Teach Yourself C++ in 21 Days\' book cover

There are a few variations of the book, and a few editions too. A nice edition is the Complete Compiler Edition, a quality box set including the book and Microsoft Visual C++ Introductory Edition.

The book itself is massive, containing around 900 pages, varying with the edition. As with all books in the Teach Yourself series, this book has a time promise of twenty-one days. Each chapter, or day, is an acceptable length and manageable to read in one day. The average reader is able to conveniently read a chapter and practice what they've learned in under an hour and a half.

Taking a Look Inside

Another nice asset of Teach Yourself C++ in 21 Days, and others in the Teach Yourself series, is the layout of the book. The pages are extremely easy to read with a clean white background and crisp black text. All of the code examples are neatly printed, labeled, and each line is numbered. Each code example also has its output and a detailed analysis.

At the end of each chapter you will find FAQ's about the chapter's subject, a workshop, a quiz, and a few exercises. These help you to apply what you've gathered from the chapter. If you have the Complete Compiler Edition you'll also be able to take the Assessment Exams located on the included CD-ROM.

Another important factor of any technical book is how effortless it is to comprehend. Jesse Liberty, the author, does a commendable job of keeping things on a level understandable for novices, and technical enough to satisfy someone experienced in C++. Everything is thoroughly explained to close perfection - understanding the book should not be a complication.

Teach Yourself C++ in 21 Days also includes modest notes throughout the book. They'll have boxes with Do's and Don't's, FAQ's, warnings, and other useful information. In other books in the Teach Yourself series these aren't as plentiful as they are in Teach Yourself C++ in 21 Days. These notes save you the hassle of code errors and having to look something up in a search engine or book.

Chapters and Sections

Teach Yourself C++ in 21 Days is divided into Weeks and Days, enabling you to swiftly cover C++. The chapters are set up so you can later come back and read any chapter for a quick review.

Week 1

  • Day 1 - Getting Started
  • Day 2 - The Anatomy of a C++ Program
  • Day 3 - Variables and Constants
  • Day 4 - Expressions and Statements
  • Day 5 - Functions
  • Day 6 - Object-Oriented Programming
  • Day 7 - More Program Flow
  • Week 1 In Review

Week 2

  • Day 8 - Pointers
  • Day 9 - References
  • Day 10 - Advanced Functions
  • Day 11 - Object-Oriented Analysis and Design
  • Day 12 - Inheritance
  • Day 13 - Arrays and Linked Lists
  • Day 14 - Polymorphism
  • Week 2 In Review

Week 3

  • Day 15 - Special Classes and Functions
  • Day 16 - Advanced Inheritance
  • Day 17 - Streams
  • Day 18 - Namespaces
  • Day 19 - Templates
  • Day 20 - Exceptions and Error Handling
  • Day 21 - What's Next
  • Week 3 In Review


  • Appendix A - Binary and Hexadecimal
  • Appendix B - C++ Keywords
  • Appendix C - Operator Precedence
  • Appendix D - Answers

Sample Chapter

Sams Publishing offers an online sample chapter from Teach Yourself C++ in 21 Days. The sample chapter covers working with variables and constants (external link). Although it doesn't demonstrate the more advanced topics that the book covers, it gives you an example of Liberty's writing style, shows you the extensive technical explanations, and gives you a feel of the how the book is setup.


Overall, Teach Yourself C++ in 21 Days is an excellent book to get someone started using C++. It also serves as a great reference book for programming, covering most aspects of basic C++. The only downside is that it doesn't even dab into integrating a GUI into your applications, but most C++ books don't.

Teach Yourself C++ in 21 Days
Jesse Liberty
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