Revised Book Review: “PowerShell for Sysadmins” by Adam Bertram

PowerShell for Sysadmins, by Adam Bertram, is a new book published by No Starch Press, with a tagline of “Workflow automation made easy.” The publisher asked me to write an honest review of the book, and provided a copy for me to read.

Adam has been a long-time contributor to the community, predominantly through his blog, although he’s also ventured in books before. I’ve co-authored a book with Adam in the past, and found him to be a diligent and competent writer.

Unfortunately, this book was not a win for me. In terms of it teaching someone to use PowerShell effectively, I just felt it moved too quickly, and wasn’t able to provide enough depth on the key things that tend to trip up newcomers. However, my lens is that of someone who has predominantly taught PowerShell newcomers my entire career. If your lens on the book is different, then you will need to evaluate it for yourself.

I had posted a much longer review here previously, but it was largely negative. Understand that, for me, writing a print-published book represents an enormous investment on the part of the publisher – in the ends of thousands of dollars. That level of seriousness, for me, has always elevated traditionally published books into a realm where you’re fair game for whatever honest opinions reviewers want to share. You rarely see movie critics, or professional book critics, or music critics, or food critics, pulling punches when they feel it’s warranted.

However, in this case, perhaps it’s the tight-knit nature of the PowerShell community that led people to see my review as a more personal-level attack. It wasn’t.

I wanted to leave a detailed and in-depth review not because I wanted to be seen as pummeling someone, but because I wanted to justify, as factually as possible, my take on the book. I didn’t just want to express an opinion and leave it at that; I wasn’t to explain that opinion through example and evidence. It was never meant as a personal attack on Adam or anyone else.

Unfortunately, my approach both came across as wrong and unfair to many people, and has led to contentious back-and-forth online that I don’t feel is fair or productive either to Adam or myself.

So while I cannot personally recommend Adam’s new book, I can certainly remind you that his blog has been an effective and engaging resource for numerous technology professionals, and that his work is absolutely worth looking at. His new book is available on Amazon, and you should certainly form your own opinions about it.