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SQL Queries for Mere Mortals: A Hands-On Guide to Data Manipulation in SQL (3rd Edition) Paperback – Jun 11 2014

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  • SQL Queries for Mere Mortals: A Hands-On Guide to Data Manipulation in SQL (3rd Edition)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 792 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 3 edition (June 11 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321992474
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321992475
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 4.8 x 23.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #65,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


The good books show you how to do something. The great books enable you to think clearly about how you can do it. This book is the latter. To really maximize the potential of your database, thinking about data as a set is required and the authors’ accessible writing really brings out the practical applications of SQL and the set-based thinking behind it.

-- Ben Clothier, Lead Developer at IT Impact, Inc., co-author of Professional Access 2013 Programming, and Microsoft Access MVP


Unless you are working at a very advanced level, this is the only SQL book you will ever need. The authors have taken the mystery out of complex queries and explained principles and techniques with such clarity that a “Mere Mortal” will indeed be empowered to perform the superhuman. Do not walk past this book!

--Graham Mandeno, Database Consultant


It’s beyond brilliant! I have been working with SQL for a really long time and the techniques presented in this book exposed some of the bad habits I picked up over the years in my learning process. I wish I had learned these techniques a long time ago and saved myself all the headaches of learning SQL the hard way. Who said you can’t teach old dogs new tricks?

--Leo (theDBguy), Utter Access Moderator and Microsoft Access MVP


I learned SQL primarily from the first and second editions of this book, and I am pleased to see a third edition of this book so that others can continue to benefit from its organized presentation of the language. Starting from how to design your tables so that SQL can be effective (a common problem for database beginners), and then continuing through the various aspects of SQL construction and capabilities, the reader can become a moderate expert upon completing the book and its samples. Learning how to convert a question in English into a meaningful SQL statement will greatly facilitate your mastery of the language. Numerous examples from real life will help you visualize how to use SQL to answer the questions about the data in your database. Just one of the “watch out for this trap” items will save you more than the cost of the book when you avoid that problem when writing your queries. I highly recommend this book if you want to tap the full potential of your database.

--Kenneth D. Snell, Ph.D., Database Designer/Programmer


I don’t think they do this in public schools any more, and it is a shame, but do you remember in the seventh and eighth grades when you learned to diagram a sentence? Those of you who do may no longer remember how you did it, but all of you do write better sentences because of it. John Viescas and Mike Hernandez must have remembered because they take everyday English queries and literally translate them into SQL. This is an important book for all database designers. It takes the complexity of mathematical Set Theory and of First Order Predicate Logic, as outlined in E. F. Codd’s original treatise on relational database design, and makes it easy for anyone to understand. If you want an elementary- through intermediate-level course on SQL, this is the one book that is a requirement, no matter how many others you buy.

--Arvin Meyer, MCP, MVP


SQL Queries for Mere Mortals, Third Edition, provides a step-by-step, easy-to-read introduction to writing SQL queries. It includes hundreds of examples with detailed explanations. This book provides the tools you need to understand, modify, and create SQL queries.

--Keith W. Hare, Convenor, ISO/IEC JTC1 SC32 WG3International SQL Standards Committee


Even in this day of wizards and code generators, successful database developers still require a sound knowledge of Structured Query Language (SQL, the standard language for communicating with most database systems). In this book, John and Mike do a marvelous job of making what’s usually a dry and difficult subject come alive, presenting the material with humor in a logical manner, with plenty of relevant examples. I would say that this book should feature prominently in the collection on the bookshelf of all serious developers, except that I’m sure it’ll get so much use that it won’t spend much time on the shelf!

--Doug Steele, Microsoft Access Developer and author


I highly recommend SQL Queries for Mere Mortals to anyone working with data. John makes it easy to learn one of the most critical aspects of working with data: creating queries. Queries are the primary tool for selecting, sorting, and reporting data. They can compensate for table structure, new reporting requirements, and incorporate new data sources. SQL Queries for Mere Mortals uses clear, easy to understand discussions and examples to take readers through the basics and into complex problems. From novice to expert, you will find this book to be an invaluable reference as you can apply the concepts to a myriad of scenarios, regardless of the program.

--Teresa Hennig, Microsoft MVP-Access, and lead author of several Access books, including Professional Access 2013 Programming (Wrox)

About the Author

John L. Viescas is an independent database consultant with more than 45 years of experience. He began his career as a systems analyst, designing large database applications for IBM mainframe systems. He spent 6 years at Applied Data Research in Dallas, Texas, where he directed a staff of more than 30 people and was responsible for research, product development, and customer support of database products for IBM mainframe computers. While working at Applied Data Research, John completed a degree in business finance at the University of Texas at Dallas, graduating cum laude.


John joined Tandem Computers, Inc., in 1988, where he was responsible for the development and implementation of database marketing programs in Tandem’s U.S. Western Sales region. He developed and delivered technical seminars on Tandem’s relational database management system, NonStop SQL. John wrote his first book, A Quick Reference Guide to SQL (Microsoft Press, 1989), as a research project to document the similarities in the syntax among the ANSI-86 SQL standard, IBM’s DB2, Microsoft’s SQL Server, Oracle Corporation’s Oracle, and Tandem’s NonStop SQL. He wrote the first edition of Running Microsoft Access (Microsoft Press, 1992) while on sabbatical from Tandem. He has since written four editions of Running, three editions of Microsoft Office Access Inside Out (Microsoft Press, 2003, 2007, and 2010–the successor to the Running series), and Building Microsoft Access Applications (Microsoft Press, 2005).


John formed his own company in 1993. He provides information systems management consulting for a variety of small to large businesses around the world, with a specialty in the Microsoft Access and SQL Server database management products. He maintains offices in Nashua, New Hampshire, and Paris, France. He has been recognized as a “Most Valuable Professional” (MVP) since 1993 by Microsoft Product Support Services for his assistance with technical questions on public support forums. He set a landmark 20 consecutive years as an MVP in 2013.


You can visit John’s Web site at or contact him by e-mail at


Michael J. Hernandez has been an independent relational database consultant specializing in relational database design. He has more than 20 years of experience in the technology industry, developing database applications for a wide variety of clients. He’s been a contributing author to a wide variety of magazine columns, white papers, books, and periodicals, and is coauthor of the best-selling SQL Queries for Mere Mortals.


Mike has been a top-rated and noted technical trainer for the government,the military, the private sector, and companies throughout the United States. He has spoken at numerous national and international conferences, and has consistently been a top-rated speaker and presenter.


Aside from his technical background,Mike has a diverse set of skills and interests that he also pursues, ranging from the artistic to the metaphysical. His greatest interest is still the guitar, as he’s been a practicing guitarist for more than 40 years and played professionally for 15 years. He’s also a working actor, a great cook, loves to teach (writing,public speaking,music), has a gift for bad puns, and even reads Tarot cards.


He says he’s never going to retire, per se, but rather just change whatever it is he’s doing whenever he finally gets tired of it and move on to something else that interests him.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book does the best job in introducing SQL. For me, just started out learning SQL, it's the best I found yet.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa4b7e048) out of 5 stars 38 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4b880a8) out of 5 stars Great book for novices and intermediates June 28 2014
By L. Grundy - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Before this book I thought that only the O'Reilly books had the substance and depth I needed, but this book really gets in to the level of explanation I like. I am returning to a more technical role after being less involved in hands-on for a bit and this book has ramped me back up.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4b882f4) out of 5 stars Third Edition of SQL Book Worth the Read for SQL Developers Nov. 10 2014
By Data Guy - Published on
Format: Paperback
If you've read either of the first two editions of this book you know how useful it can be to help a new to intermediate SQL coder learn the ins and outs of the language. The book is designed to be used by people who are not SQL wizards. That is to say, if you can already code circles around your peers and you rarely look things up in the manual, then you are not likely to get much from SQL Queries for Mere Mortals. But if you are one of those “mere mortals” referenced in the title, this book will be quite helpful.

Part 1 of the book consists of the first three chapters and it sets the stage for the meat of the book by explaining things like relational theory, database 101, design, and a brief history of SQL. This material can safely be skipped if you feel you have the necessary background. The rest of the book digs into the task of teaching SQL: from the basics in Part 2, through joining, grouping and aggregating data, modifying data, and more. If you have a database environment you can work with, then working through the exercises provided in each chapter will help you to hone your SQL coding skills.

Now it is true that there are a lot of SQL books that have been published… and it can be difficult to choose which ones you want to buy. I think the authors have done a nice job of servicing a well-defined subset of the market – the non-expert SQL coder looking to learn more. If you think that describes you, then you would do well to add this book to your reading list.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4b88534) out of 5 stars Write Complex Queries, Don't just Draw Lines in the MS Access Interface May 25 2015
By Bruce Harrington - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book gave me confidence to write complex queries, not just draw lines in the graphic interface of MS Access. As I read through chapters and solved practice problems, I continued to be amazed at the expansion of my skills. I had been putting together queries in Access for about two years and thought I was fairly good at it, but routinely found myself stumped when confronted with tricky data requests. I also fell down whenever I had to switch to IBM DB2 query writing.

The authors have structured the book to maximize the incremental improvement of the reader. First covering big picture concepts of databases with some history of SQL, next moving through simple queries. They then devote large segments to inner and outer joins -- concepts I thought I already understood well, they explore in all their subtleties. Other books I've used rarely spend more than a few pages on subqueries and grouping, "SQL Queries" provide full chapters to each. The final section is modifying sets of data.

I am not a professional IT person, but work in a heavy analysis role. I needed a resource that didn't assume much about my background, but didn't waste my time. Best yet, "SQL Queries" is software independent, i.e. the authors teach the SQL standard, but provide solution downloads for multiple platforms.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4b887b0) out of 5 stars was and is the perfect fit for me Nov. 19 2014
By ofir vaknin - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
tried a few other books before coming across this one, and they all fall in to two groups. superficial or overwhelming.

SQL for mere mortals, was and is the perfect fit for me. it's gave me working knowledge and strong theoretical background. as it go to great length to explain how and why things work.

a good analyst know how to write the query, a supreme analyst, understand how the the query and the whole SQL ecosystem function. SQL for mere mortals, will set you well on the path for being great.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4b88648) out of 5 stars This book is great for data analysts or financial analysts that want to ... Oct. 15 2014
By Todd Lamb - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is great for data analysts or financial analysts that want to have the capability to pull their own information. I am very happy with what I've learned and I continue to use this book as a reference on my desk after reading through it.