Between the covers of this book are two separate books for two, very different audiences:
1) experienced developers who already have mastered PERL in a UNIX environment and need to understand the Windows environment and how to program for it
2) experienced developers who understand the Win32 environment and have developed Windows application using Visual Basic and now want to develop Win32 based programs using Perl.
If you are not in one of the above 2 groups, then this book may be of limited use to you. However, if you are, indeed, in one of the above 2 groups, then this book may be just what you are looking for. It may fill a gap in the current line of available reference material on the two subjects.
Keep in mind, even within the confines of the two specialized area that are covered, the book does not cover everything. For example, OLE is only briefly covered. Active X and ADO is not covered. ASP is only touched upon briefly in an otherwise pretty good chapter on web development using CGI, ISAPI and Perlscript. You may want to try "ActivePerl with ASP and ADO" by Tobias Martinson (Wiley Press) for these topics.
Some interesting sections of the book include (but are not limited to): 1) a brief chapter on the ActiveState Perl Debugger (APD), which comes with the Perl Development Kit (sold by ActiveState for $125). 2) VB to Perl migration guide, which takes VB commands and features and shows how to do the equivalent commands in Perl.
Note: as the first printing went to press, a few technical problems occurred in the book's printing. The back cover has the back cover blurbs for some Linux book, telling you all the great stuff about Linux and OpenSource you'll find in the book. Obviously this was meant for a different book. The cover design and images are identical to that of another McGraw-Hill computer book, "Instant ASP Components" by Greg Buczek. It's my understanding that in later printings of the ASP book this will be changed, but for now, if you look for either book in the bookstore, make sure you pick up the right one. The table of contents for Appendix C shows "beep" as one of the section headings. This is an error.
Overall, if you fit one of the two specialized audiences this book is written for, it could be a useful reference to supplement other books you already have. If you are not in either audience and just want to learn ActivePerl, then just consider the "Camel" book by Larry Wall (or the "Llama" book by Schwartz & Christiansen) to learn Perl and use the online documentation that comes with ActivePerl to learn the specifics of the ActivePerl product.
In the final analysis, the book could have been two separate books: 1) Introduction to the Win32 development environment for Perl Developers 2) VB to Perl Migration reference