I'm a big fan of Wrox. The first computer I ever had way back in 1997 was a Wrox book on HTML. It was clear, concise (-seriously concise-), and not filled with the usual garbage that most computer books are filled with. I'm still building webpages 9 years later.
I'm a bit disappointed with this one, then, because, although it is wonderfully informative and useful, it just doesn't have that same no-nonsense zing that my first did. The book does exactly what it says: gives a good, solid introduction to programming for the beginner. It does its best at instilling enough foundation to create a future programmer who will instinctively follow best practices (drilling in basic concepts like binary, so presumably people won't do dumb things later on like allowing buffer overflows because they can't count). It introduces operators before it ever tells the student to start coding. All in all, it's a gentle, easy to grasp guide to the fundamentals of programming that anyone can understand.
So why the mild disappointment? The main downside to the book in my opinion is that they lean towards dumbing things down -too- much, at least on occasion. A couple of quintessential examples that come to mind early on are:
1) Figure 4.9 - a ridiculous icon of a computer with a magnifying glass in front of it. This is intended to show you "how data is stored in memory." About half the images in the book are completely useless in this regard.
2) Sentences like "Notice that in sci-fi... humans interface with computers and robots using spoken language? Being able to do that now would be sweet!"
Easy is an admirable trait in a book of this sort. Stupid is not. That said, I think the ease and usefulness overall outweigh the occasional absurdity, and I would recommend it to someone who has either had no programming or has tried it but finds themselves totally baffled by it (and who can generally override their innate gag reflex). It does what it says, and for that I suppose it deserves a hearty 4 stars. I just don't have the heart to give it that fifth one.