This is not the only book I bought to learn C#, but after a lot of searching, it's the one I believed could get me "up and running" in minimum time. After a few days with Rod's book and DVD combo, I'm more convinced than ever it's "that good" if you are just getting started with Visual C#. And don't let the title fool you--there is a lot of breadth in the book and sufficient depth to keep you occupied, even while Stephens makes the learning enjoyable.
I'm fairly experienced with the Visual Basic product line (through VB6) and initially intended to move to .NET programming with Visual Basic 2008. Yet, for a number of reasons (mainly to rewrite a commercial application) I decided to learn C# instead. I do not write programs for a living, however, and I'm largely self-taught (OK, one class in college--FORTRAN--which I hated and swore would be the last of my life. It was!).
Rod's book is perfect for me and a lot of others, I believe, who 1.) think learning a language isn't necessarily linear--that is, start at the "beginning" and study each topic in turn until you become fluent and 2.) want to start being productive right away and 3.) don't want to be buried by minutae before understanding basic concepts. He deftly avoids these potential pitfalls quite nicely.
The book is very well organized and cross-referenced which makes study and review very straightforward. Stephens has a great feel for knowing what you need and when, and often anticipates where the questions will come from before you think to ask. Rod explains patiently but compactly--a fluid style that carries through the entire way. He really is a master trainer that teaches "at your desk" versus from a lecturn--and I think you'll like that approach a lot. I certainly do.
Predictably, the book begins by familiarizing you with the programming environment (i.e., the tool you'll use to write programs) but it's an important section and offers solid advice on using the Visual Studio framework. You'll want to refer back to it well after the rest of the book is familiar.
He then explains how to get the "visual" part of your program going--things like using fundamental controls (text boxes, buttons, etc.) and menus. From there, you move on to incorporating calculations and logic--backbones of virtually every program.
The next sections cover Object Oriented Programming (OOP) and do a lot to de-mystify its nature and implementation. Classes are covered in detail with concept descriptions of things like "encapsulation, inheritence, and polymorphism" , amongst others, as well as getting on to the nuts and bolts: properties; methods; raising events; and structures. A host of related ideas are also fleshed out like, collections; arrays; interfaces; overloading plus a whole lot more.
Following that are chapters with popular topics (graphics, databases, LINQ, files, WPF and more) that, while relatively introductory, will still allow you to write non-trivial code. They are largely independently so if there is something you want to find out about, you can easily jump in and out in whatever sequence suits you. Best of all, after completing a chapter, you'll know enough to ask meaningful questions and begin to explore beyond the book if there's something you need to know more about.
Two things really make Stephens' package unique but without a hint of gimmick: the DVD material; and the "Try It" and "Exercise" sections. The DVD, because it's so handy, might tempt you to focus on the videos at the expense of the book, at least to start....
While I think that's 'OK' when you're poking around, once you get serious, you'll realize that the book chapters and the videos go hand-in-hand. I suspect this is particularly true if you're new to programming. Even still, the videos don't cover everything in the book (though, as an aside, there are a few things mentioned in the videos that the book doesn't address.) The videos are well-paced but move right along. Of course, you can watch as often as you like and pause or rewind as needed.
Beyond that, there is simply no substitute for rolling up your sleeves and trying to practice what you've been learning about. The book accommodates that by providing directed study which guides your efforts and provides reasonable challenges. I think you'll find that to be a significant benefit! And how about this--you can email Rod, download source code used in the book and access blogs and forums about C#. The book is really a gateway to a great set of resources!
The only nits I have are small ones...
First, the narrative on the DVDs, while perfectly audible, appears to be the "raw" recording with no post-processing to filter out the occasional background noise. I was a bit surprised by this initially, but soon paid no attention to it.
Second, you might have to play around with your computer monitor's display resolution settings to optimize the video. (I settled on 1024x768 which seemed to work best for me.)
Lastly, and this really can't be considered a nit, Rod's book won't be the last if you want to really dig into all of C#'s nooks and crannies. You'll be able to do a lot with it (really), just not everything. But it will give you a fantastic and reasonably comprehensive start, even if you are new to programming--I'm sure of it.
One final thought--be prepared to highlight, write notes to yourself in the margins, flip-back and forth, review and the rest of the things needed to become a programmer. Some things never change, even if Stephens has made it a whole lot simpler and more fun. Highly, highly recommended!