Joey's Reviews > Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of Programming

Coders at Work by Peter Seibel
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Nov 11, 2009

really liked it
Read in November, 2009

What felt missing to me, and why this is only 4 stars, was any attempt to pull the interviews together and synthesize something from them.
Instead, we get a book where, for example, N-1 coders are asked if they read Knuth right through, or use it for reference, or have not read it; and this is followed by Knuth basically demolishing the foundations of any conclusions you might be able to make from their answers, with a offhand comment that "I sometimes wonder if I can read them."

Anyway, this book was a much happier book for me than Beautiful Code. The interview style does mean that you feel you get to know most of the participants, and there is plenty of humbling and inspirational stuff, lots of interesting history, as well as lots of places where these big names show they're only human too -- for example, coder after coder fesses up to using print statements for debugging.

Seibel got access to a great set of people, gave some quite good interviews where he managed some impressive followup questions on a wide and historically deep set of topics, and somehow got it to all hold together. Well done.
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