TCP/IP, the stack of technologies that underlies the Internet and the World Wide Web, is, not surprisingly, a large and complex topic. During my two decades in the technology field I've looked at a number of books on the subject, but tended to give up quickly and content myself with the discrete bits of knowledge essential for the job at hand. TCP/IP, however, is one of the few important topics about which it is really impossible to know enough, even for an information systems generalist like myself. For TCP/IP technologies have become as critical to modern business — and personal communication — as blood circulation is to the human body.
Charles M. Kozierok's new TCP/IP Guide is the best-organized and easiest-to-digest "complete" TCP/IP book I've ever seen. I put "complete" in quotes because no single volume could possibly drill down to every last detail of every protocol in the suite, and Kozierok doesn't claim to, not even in the 1,400-plus pages of this volume. What he does, however, is write clearly and engagingly, dividing the topic into short manageable chapters, covering pretty much everything a technician could ever need to know about TCP/IP, and providing just the right amount of background information and context to give the reader a sense of why and how the technologies we use every day were designed just so.
The last is no small thing. The why and the how are of more than academic interest. Knowing how technologies developed sometimes actually helps increase comprehension. And having some historical context makes the essentially dry and difficult subject matter more pleasant to read, which is also no small matter.
The book delivers to the attentive reader a working knowledge of TCP/IP in all its multifaceted complexity. Kozierok begins with some valuable chapters on the fundamentals of networking technology, the standards organizations that give rise to the flummoxing sea of acronyms every IT professional must learn, and the mathematics that underlies computing (if you've ever struggled to understand binary or hexadecimal numbers, the explanations in this book are as good as any I've seen). Then, the heart of the book explains the many protocols and related technologies that comprise the TCP/IP stack.