C in a Nutshell, 2nd Edition
The Definitive Reference
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: December 2015
Pages: 824

The new edition of this classic O’Reilly reference provides clear, detailed explanations of every feature in the C language and runtime library, including multithreading, type-generic macros, and library functions that are new in the 2011 C standard (C11). If you want to understand the effects of an unfamiliar function, and how the standard library requires it to behave, you’ll find it here, along with a typical example.

Ideal for experienced C and C++ programmers, this book also includes popular tools in the GNU software collection. You’ll learn how to build C programs with GNU Make, compile executable programs from C source code, and test and debug your programs with the GNU debugger.

In three sections, this authoritative book covers:

  • C language concepts and language elements, with separate chapters on types, statements, pointers, memory management, I/O, and more
  • The C standard library, including an overview of standard headers and a detailed function reference
  • Basic C programming tools in the GNU software collection, with instructions on how use them with the Eclipse IDE
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(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)


A Must-Have in any Reference Library

By MrAureliusR

from Toronto, Ontario

About Me Developer, Embedded Engineer, Student

Verified Reviewer


  • Accurate
  • Concise
  • Easy to understand
  • Helpful examples
  • Well-written


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    • Intermediate

    Comments about oreilly C in a Nutshell, 2nd Edition:

    First of all, I'm basing this review on the first edition, but I have the second edition on order, and I'll update this when it comes.

    This is easily the best C reference that I've found - and I've read a lot of them! The explanation of language features is excellent. Concise but informative, with all the details you need without becoming verbose -- a difficult task with programming references.

    And keep in mind, this is a reference, NOT a tutorial or 'for beginners' book. This is a complete description of the language and the standard library. If you are an experienced C programmer, then this will be an invaluable resource. Every time I have a project on the go, you will find this book beside my laptop. Even if I just need to look up what parameters are passed to a particular standard library function, I'd rather thumb through this book than search online. Why? Because I can find the information more quickly, and it's in a format that gives you exactly what you're looking for.

    What really sets this apart from other C references is the standard library section. When I first borrowed this book from the library, I was blown away when I noticed the second half of the book explained EVERY standard function, what parameters it takes, what it does, and which header file it's in. I immediately returned it to the library and bought my own copy. I used it as a standard library reference a lot, but whenever I have to refresh my memory on a certain language feature, the first half does it remarkably well. Technically, if you are a quick learner and a good reader, you could actually learn the language from this book, but that's not what it's for.

    I was really excited when I saw that there was a new edition forthcoming. This book has been such a fixture during all my C projects that I knew I'd pick up the second edition. I actually do mostly embedded projects (ARM, PIC, etc.) yet this is just as good a reference as it is for x86 programmers. I'm hoping the other books in this series are as good -- I will probably pick up Python in a Nutshell and C++ in a Nutshell.

    All in all, you'd have to cut my hands off to take this book away from me.

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