Top critical review
NOT FOR EVERYONE
Reviewed in the United States on August 27, 2003
The unfortunate thing about this book is that some effort seems to have been made to market it as a teaching tool or textbook that would be useful to neophytes and rank beginners. It is anything but that. If you use this book to begin your study of electronics you will end up very frustrated indeed.
The writing has a strange schizophrenic quality to it. Portions of the writing are almost brilliant. For instance, in the very first chapter we find on Page 20: "...capacitors are devises that might be considered simply frequency-dependent resistors." An excellent way of thinking of capacitors! But in other places, like on Page 9, you find whoppers like "A voltage source 'likes' an open-circuit load and 'hates' a short-circuit load, for obvious reasons" (obvious??!!) and "A current source 'likes' a short-circuit load and 'hates' an open-circuit load." Other gems include circuits "looking into each other" as though they have eyes. Such anthropomorphic analogies may (actually, in fact, are) useful to seasoned electrical engineers or even intermediate EE students. Upon those less advanced, like hobbyists or beginning EE students, their only effect is to overwhelm the beginner with a sense of the "weirdness" of electronics and its inaccessibility.
In other words, H & H's effort to make electronics accessible will, for many, have just the opposite effect - to intimidate them from continuing their electronic journey. It is harrowing to think that some university physics and EE professors, having succumbed to the not inconsiderable hype about this book, are using it as an introductory text. Pity the poor students in those courses. This, notwithstanding what is written on Page vii of the Student Manual: "...during the summer we see [in an introductory course at Harvard on electronics] many high school students, and some of these do brilliantly."
In short: I can only give H & H a C minus in their effort at technical writing, and suggest that beginners and first-year students turn to Grob or to Schaum's Outlines (both excellent) for supplementary help.
Don't get me wrong. For the intermediate learner of electronics, this is not only a very helpful book but an incredibly useful one, especially as a reference. But any "beginner" or "high school student" who thrives on this book is not being completely honest about his background (he "forgot" to mention to the person or instructor to whom he introduced himself as a "beginner" the trivial fact that he already has an amateur radio license, or some such) or he is, shall we say, very very smart.