I ran across this after I finished reading back-to-back reviews by Phn1x and Ilfak Guilfanov of the sounds-like-it’s-excellent “The IDA Pro Book by Chris Eagle, from No Starch Press.  Excellent reviews, and the book looks really good.  Please don’t confuse it’s coolness with the lameness I’m about to copy-paste about. I’ll probably wind up buying a copy of Eagle’s book.

The Syngress IDA book, though?  Not so much.

I didn’t know Syngress had an IDA Pro book when I went to Amazon to look at No Starch’s.  There’s a reason for that:  It’s awful.  I can say this, with certainty, without ever having picked it up.  I don’t normally feel this strongly without at least reading the book, but the universally bad reviews of “Reverse Engineering Code with IDA Pro” are quite damning…

…and hilarious :) .  Which is why I’m pasting select comments from the various reviews here, as they tickle my funny-bone:

ZT says:

Do we really need half a page to print a table that does nothing but list every possible form a MOV instruction can take?

..and:

For heaven’s sake, the book was published FOUR MONTHS AGO, and already the repository for the book’s source and binaries has disappeared?!  Come on, this is unacceptable. Every time the book dedicates an entire chapter to disassembling a binary, you have to pretty much skip the entire chapter, because the binary isn’t available for you to disassemble. You can’t follow along.

magicmac2000 chimes in with:

And finally, there is information in the index of a chapter, but the pages are not there! It is not a problem of my book, it is a problem of the edition itself!

Hah what?  There’s entire chunks of the book missing:

(Chapter 4) claims to have this items:
Understanding Execution Flow, Tracing Functions, Recovering Hard Coded Password, Finding Vulnerable Functions, Backtracing Execution, Crafting a Buffer Overflow.
The problem is that the editors (Syngress) forgot to include the latest three. Yes, exactly as you hear it: the editors forgot to place those pages on the book.

Even one of the authors, Justin Ferguson, gave it a negative review:

This is my second attempt at reviewing the book I helped write, Amazon continues to censor me probably because my encouragement is not to buy this book (after dealing with syngress, I wouldn’t advise buying anything that comes from them). I don’t know how to say this other than I apologize to everyone who purchased this book, it really was supposed to be much more. However the corporate world being what it is, it was rushed from deadline to deadline without any regard for quality, the editors actually introduced errors, many of the diagrams are unreadable and theres parts of the book just flat out missing. DO NOT BUY.

Ouch!  You can check out the reviews for yourself here.  I think I’ll be getting Chris Eagle’s book instead.

  2 Responses to “LOL'ing my LOL'er off at the Syngress IDA Pro Book”

  1. I am one of the unfortunate ones that bought this book. At first glance, I thought I was having a real problem understanding and following along. Now that I have read the book, I understand why! (I also have to agree that the Syngress website is, shall we say…. a bit lacking??) I just bought the new No Starch Press Ida Pro book and can already tell it is much, much better….

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