Networking Book Reviews

Revised May 25, 2010

A fascinating history of the Internet:

where wizards stay up late (the origins of the internet)
Authors: Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0-684-83267-4

This book includes:

Not only does this book discuss the technology, people and politics of the early Internet, it also includes some cool photos of the first routers!

A good overview of bridging, switching and routing:

Interconnections - Second Edition: Bridges, Routers, Switches and Internetworking Protocols
Author: Radia Perlman
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
ISBN: 0-201-63448-1

This book includes:

Radia Perlman developed the Spanning Tree Protocol (as well as NLSP, IS-IS, and other things). The first edition of this book has been considered a classic for years, and in the second edition she adds coverage of layer-2 switches, and expands on other things. Note that this book is all theoretical, there is no Cisco config info in it (nor any other vendors, for that matter).

When people ask me for an "intro" book on the IP suite, this is what I recommend ...

Internetworking with TCP/IP, Volume I (Third Edition): Principles, Protocols and Architecture.
Author: Douglas E. Comer
Publisher: Prentice-Hall
ISBN: 0-13-216987-8

This is also a classic, and contains information on:

All in all, an excellent reference. Make sure you get the THIRD edition!

If you want to know how the Internet suite protocols work on the inside, I have two suggestions ...

This first one:

TCP/IP Illustrated, Volume I
Author: W. Richard Stevens
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
ISBN: 0-201-63346-9

Note: This book goes through the protocols in the IP suite one by one, using a UNIX-based protocol analyzer to illustrate "real-life" operations. Highly recommended for "bit-heads"!

And the second book for aspiring "protocol geeks":

Internetworking with TCP/IP, Volume II (Second Edition): Design, Implementation and Internals.
Authors: Douglas E. Comer and David L. Stevens
Publisher: Prentice-Hall
ISBN: 0-13-125527-4

Note: This is not an "easy-reader". It is meant for programmers. You have been warned!

Meanwhile, down at Layers 1 and 2, if you want info on:

Then acquire a copy of:

Gigabit Ethernet: Technology and Applications for High-Speed LANs
Author: Rich Seifert
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
ISBN: 0-201-18553-9

Note: This is a great book, and accomplishes the goal of being both technical and readable. It compares and contrasts 10, 100 and 1000 Mbps Ethernet, shared and switched, half and full-duplex, on copper and fiber (Seifert chaired the IEEE committees for some of these). It also compares the Ethernet family to ATM, FDDI, Token Ring, etc. Wonderful stuff!

Looking for details on:

You need ...

The Switch Book: The Complete Guide to LAN Switching Technology
Author: Rich Seifert
Publisher: Wiley
ISBN: 0-471-34586-5

More info about layer-two switching than you ever wanted to know. Seifert is an IEEE guru, so his book is heavy on IEEE protocols (802.1D, 802.1p, 802.1Q), with less emphasis on proprietary technologies (Etherchannel, VTP, etc). The IEEE protocols do the same things (trunking, VLANs, etc) as the proprietary stuff (most of the open standards are based on the proprietary protocols), and this book is an excellent reference.

For a thousand pages of IP routing protocols, including:

Check out:

Routing TCP/IP - Volume I
Author: Jeff Doyle
Publisher: Cisco Press
ISBN: 1-57870-041-8

NOTE: This book is a good overview of IP routing protocols (IGP's), and includes an excellent discussion of IS-IS, and how to configure it for IP on Cisco routers. BGP is not covered in this book (it's in Volume 2). There are some things I don't like about this book, and they are: If you're looking for the "big picture", this is a great book. If you're looking for nit-picky technical details, then take things with a grain of salt.

If you want the straight info on OSPF, including:

Then check out:

OSPF: Anatomy of an Internet Routing Protocol
Author: John T. Moy
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
ISBN: 0-201-63472-4

Note: This is an excellent book, written by the author of the OSPF RFC's, and very readable. Highly recommended!

If you want BGP, including Cisco configs and examples, and ...

Then you want:

Internet Routing Architectures - Second Edition
Author: Sam Halabi (with Danny McPherson)
Publisher: Cisco Press
ISBN: 1-57870-233-X

NOTE: If you're serious about learning BGP, you absolutely need this book. Make sure that you get the second edition!

For another thousand pages of protocols, including:

Take a look at:

Routing TCP/IP - Volume II
Authors: Jeff Doyle & Jennifer DeHaven Carroll
Publisher: Cisco Press
ISBN: 1-57870-089-2

NOTE: Along with Halabi's book, this should take care of your Cisco BGP needs. Make sure that you get Volume 2!

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