Book Review: The Agile Samurai

Review

The Agile Samurai by Jonathan Rasmusson has some differences from your typical book on agile project management. For starters, the style is very much like a Head First book, full of asides and fun graphics that help draw you in to the book. It also doesn’t stop at just laying out the rules and religion of a particular agile project management technique – it has valuable insight into how you get a project off the ground and a brief overview of some of the agile engineering techniques that will make your project successful.

Jonathan is a very engaging author. He clearly understands what he is talking about from a been-there-done-that perspective and is not afraid to warn you of things to watch out for. I was a little turned off by the whole samurai thing at first, but that’s mostly because I think the whole Zen/Eastern Mysticism thing is a bit overdone in software in general, and in agile specifically. Once I got over that bias, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

I read the book mostly because I am always looking for good resources to pass along to people getting started working in an agile environment and this seemed like it would be a good one. I didn’t expect to learn much at this point – I’ve read more than my fair share of books and articles and been to training. I was pleasantly surprised – I picked up some really good information, particularly about the Agile Inception Deck.

If you are about to participate in an agile project, I highly recommend this book. If you have a team that is about to participate in an agile project, you should seriously consider passing out copies of this book. If you are a grizzled veteran, you probably won’t learn a lot from this book (information about the agile inception deck, an idea that came out of the ThoughtWorks consultancy can be found on the Web, including the author’s blog), but there are enough nuggets in there that you still may find it valuable, especially the detailed treatment of launching a project, a topic that is neglected in most other books about agile project management.

One slightly unrelated note – I read this book on my Kindle and I have to say that the formatting was exceptional. The Pragmatic Programmers by far take the most care in making there electronic books usable. I have books from another publisher that shall remain nameless that are completely unreadable.