'Cisco Routers for the Desperate' (CRFTD) is the book Cisco should package with their routers -- assuming author Michael Lucas makes a few tweaks. I've always been amazed by Michael's uncanny ability to include details that matter to administrators, especially in his earlier books 'Absolute BSD' and 'Absolute OpenBSD'. CRFTD is no exception; the book is chock full of life-saving Cisco tips. I suggest you buy one to keep by your router, just as the author recommends.
CRFTD is not supposed to be comprehensive, but it is designed to answer many if not most of the questions facing the average small router administrator. If you're responsible for multiple routers or have complex requirements, this book is not for you. If you are stuck sitting if front of the router connected to your ISP, and don't know how to proceed, CRFTD is for you.
Although this book weighs in around 120 pages, it features material seldom discussed in other Cisco-related books. For example, Michael provides good advice on how to interact with your ISP to troubleshoot connectivity issues. He explains WAN circuits and the equipment responsibilities of ISPs and end users. Most impressively, he dedicates 25 pages in chapter 7 to Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) and Cisco's Host Standby Router Protocol (HSRP) -- two topics I did not expect in a book this size. I also appreciated mention of enabling usernames and passwords (beyond the usual 'password' and 'enable' methods) and activating secure shell services.
I like CRFTD because it cuts to the chase and tells the reader what he or she needs to know to properly configure a router. There is not a lot of theory here, but there are some explanations. In some cases, the syntax is not exactly in synch with Cisco's latest expectations. For example, the company recommends using 'copy running-config startup-config' to save the running configuration to flash memory. This does not mean Michael's syntax is wrong, but his approach may harken to an earlier time.
The book has some minor errors which forced me to provide a four star rating. The first issue is the lack of recommending the 'no shutdown' command when configuring interfaces. Having just sat through a week of Todd Lammle's CCNA class, I can personally attest to the number of times router admins forget to enable interfaces. I did not see Michael mention this -- so remember to enter 'no shutdown' when configuring interfaces. Second, Michael mixes up the use of the console port and the AUX port; console is usually for rolled-cable access, while AUX is typically for modem access. At the bottom of p. 31, omit the term 'netmask' from the 'ip address' command; it's not needed. On p. 109, 'timeout' should be 'time-out' in the syntax.
Overall, I really enjoyed CRFTD. I think a second edition will easily make the necessary changes. I heartily recommend buying a copy of this book for router admins at your corporate remote locations. They will thank you for simplifying the administration of their routers. Those looking for a quick, hands-on CCNA refresher will find working through Michael's examples a good way to reinforce key configuration concepts.