To clarify, the comparison to Web Application Hacker’s Handbook is primarily one of quality as something that intends to teach the reader something. The prose around the technical material is much better-written as well, which is the worst failing of this Backtrack book.
In my work, I interact with a lot of students that are beginning to take an interest in penetration testing, and I rarely if ever recommend books that are primarily references to commands. In the case of Backtrack, I’d rather show them how to pull up the individual tools’ documentation for that kind of information.
What I do recommend to beginners are “subject area” books, which take a more in-depth look at a certain topic/technique/specialization. My default recommendation for this is Web Application Hacker’s Handbook, since it’s very easy for a beginner to get into breaking web apps. If they’re coming in with the appropriate background and are interested in it, I may steer them towards Hacking: The Art of Exploitation 2nd Edition or Reversing: Secrets of Reverse Engineering instead.
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