About the syntax used - yes,through all the book only the AT&T assembly syntax is used. The obvious reason is that most popular compiler on Linux is GCC, which has GAS (GNU Assembler) as the behind the scenes assembler invoked by GCC every time you compile your code. And native to GAS is the AT&T syntax and not the Intel syntax, which is deemed more readable.
Now to the book contents. As there is no previous knowledge of assembly assumed, the reader is first given a quite detailed view of the Intel processors architecture, including coverage of modern features like the Netburst design, present in modern Pentium series processors.Then basics of the tools of the trade are presented.
With this preliminary knowledge the reader is prepared to begin the major part of the book - the assembly language itself.
The learning curve is flattened as much as possible by the author, guiding us through all the major domains of assembly programming - working with processor registers, stack and heap manipulation, floating point arithmetic,handling various data types (strings, integers, floating point numbers) and more.
All the chapters contain stand alone code examples ready to be compiled and run. Most of the example code is 30-40 lines long and relates to the particular point being explained, i.e. there's no intentional cross-reference between code samples in different chapters.
Starting at the chapter 12, "Linux System Calls", begins what this book was written for - how to apply gathered so far knowledge to the real world. This includes: inline assembly in C/C++ code, programs combining C/C++ source code
and assembly functions, writing static/dynamic libraries in assembly that can be used by any high-level language (here C/C++), optimization tips and tricks, how to work with files.
Finally, the last chapter deals with advanced features like MMX, SSE, and SSE2 instructions .
So, to conclude - It has all a
programmer never exposed to assembly needs to learn to start writing fully functional stand alone or integrated into high-level language assembly code . The author covers all fundamentals of assembly programming and he does it in a plain and accessible language.
However there's something you should be aware of - if you're (like me) a fan of the Wrox "Professional.." series,- don't misunderstand the word in this context. It is only an introductory text on assembly,and it will not bring you to the level of professional assembly programmer, yet.