Note: Based on Perl 5.6. At the time of this review, the current version is 5.8.8.
Introduction - 1
Ch. 1: Basic Perl - 3
Ch. 2: Advanced Perl - 197
Ch. 3: Regular Expressions - 285
Ch. 4: Special Variables and Command Line Options - 327
Ch. 5: Files and Directories - 383
Ch. 6: Processes, Interprocess Communication, and Threads - 459
Ch. 7: Standard Module Library -537
Index - 591
This book surprised me. Given the title, I expected it to be a pure reference book, but what I got was a book that is also great for learning. The book is written with a great amount of clarity and the topics are covered extensively enough for the reader to learn the topics, but it is never too verbose. The examples are generally clear and to the point and are usually not too long. However, there were some disappointments in the Regular Expressions chapter. A few, just a few, regular expression examples matched expressions which I don't think that the author intended for them to match, but it's a minor complaint. The book also spends a nice amount of time on the Basic Perl section and it is nicely explained, so I think that those new to Perl will enjoy that section. However, I think that the object-oriented Perl section which comes a little bit later could have been better organized and written more clearly. The book also does a nice job at explaining more advanced topics in a way that they don't seem too "advanced" or difficult. Additionally, the Regular Expressions chapter was especially well-done despite the handful of examples that I previously mentioned.
Despite its title, it's not really organized like a dictionary. However, it's still great as a reference book. Just consult the index and you'll find pretty much anything that you want. However, the section on the Standard Module Library is not comprehensive in the least.
One final note: It's mostly a pure Perl book. So don't expect to learn much about related technologies including CGI (touched on, though barely). It also spends very little time (essentially none) on databases.
Flawed, but handy and well-written. It doesn't cover everything that a Perl programmer would want to know, but it does an excellent job at explaining what it does cover.