I'm an animator/interactive designer and web developer. At the risk of sounding like an old fart, I first learned Flash when it was still Macromedia Flash, long before it acquired CS in its name. The number after ActionScript was "1.0". In the ten years since Flash 5, when I opened the program for the first time, Flash has grown by quantum leaps, becoming a truly formidable animation and interactive development powerhouse. Many of the things I had to do laboriously by hand are now accomplished with a few mouse clicks. The prime example is bones and IK (inverse kinematics). We didn't have bones until CS4. Deforming shapes convincingly was really difficult, tedious, and time-consuming, requiring frustrating shape tween hints or frame-by-frame animation.
Back then, as a poor recent graduate working at dotcoms, I didn't have much money for computer books and had to figure out all this stuff on my own by trial and error or going to communities like Flash Kit. Things like masking tricks, walk cycles, motion guides. I'm happy to say that it's all in here. Chris Georgenes has distilled years of experience and knowledge into this compact volume so you don't have to go through all the pain and suffering that I did. Be forewarned however, that this book is for intermediate to advanced Flash users. It is NOT for beginners. The author says so and so does the back cover. The book is divided into chapters: Design Style, Transformation & Distortion, Masking, Motion Techniques, Character Animation, Flash to Video, Animation Examples, Working with Video, Working with Sound, Interactivity, Extending Flash. Each lesson is cookbook style, being a 2-page spread. Most of the lessons are standalones, but some build on skills learned from previous lessons. The lessons go fast. Having only 2 pages per lesson is a bit short, as I feel some of the techniques require more explanation, especially when multiple screenshots take up most of the allotted space. Also, I have a problem with the layout. The steps flow left to right across the two pages. My eyes naturally wants to read down the first page first, then onto the opposite page.
Many wonderful effects can be achieved and problems solved with the proper application of masks. If you never knew about the power of masking, you will after reading chapter 3. Some very common or frequently used ones are flag waves, a spinning globe of the continents, and handwriting (all tricks I've employed in the field). The lessons on bones and armatures can be very useful for animators not yet familiar with breaking up complex characters into animate-able component pieces like heads, arms, legs, and body. This is covered in chapter 5, with a lesson from Jib-Jab and the wonderful dancing George Bush! Chapter 7 (Animation Examples) is all stand-alone recipes, including some very frequently-requested effects like page curl, Star Wars text scroll, how to do rain, smoke, fire, fireworks, etc.
From there, the book (last 80 pages) gets progressively less useful. The chapter on Interactivity (10) should've been totally left out in favor of more animation tricks. It's quite clear here that Georgenes is an animator, not a coder. It's a tacked on chapter that is very skimpy on actual ActionScript learning and if you're new to programming, you will probably get very little out of it. It discuses differences with AS2 with side-by-side screenshots, which at this point in ActionScript's history, frankly shouldn't even be mentioned. Contrary to what another reviewer said, this chapter is not chock-full of code. This entire chapter is only 18 pages, with 4 of them being about how to toggle sound off (is it really that important to take up 4 pages?). Objects and classes, the backbone of Flash OOP (object-oriented programming), is mentioned at the END of this chapter, as a scant 2 pages, with an accompanying image of a Rubik's cube meant to illustrate that everyone solves problems in different ways, like how the pieces of the cube can be arranged in a million combinations. If you want to use cut and paste code, this is OK, but plenty of online tutorials will teach you better. For this, and the layout issue I mentioned before, I deduct 1 star. The book would've been better without it.
In summary: How to Cheat in Adobe Flash CS5 is a valuable book on Flash techniques and tricks that all animators should have on his/her bookshelf. If you are serious about Flash, you will need other books to supplement your learning. This book is not for coders, so scripters or even animators needing just a small bit of ActionScript understanding will have to go elsewhere, like Colin Moock's intimidating but necessary Essential ActionScript 3.0 (Essential). A very basic thing to do is detect user input, but the lesson on event listeners (detecting mouse clicks, rollovers, mouse movement) is a measly 2 pages, like every other lesson.
A great companion book for animators, but clearly not the be-all and end-all of Flash books. Highly recommended, with the above caveats.