If you have ever worked with Python, you have probably come across Python Module of the Week (PyMOTW) or virtualenvwrapper. Both are the work of Doug Hellmann. He has now brought to life The Python Standard Library By Example. If Python gives you the batteries, Hellmann gives you not only an instruction manual but the "on" switch to get you going right away.
The Python documentation is really great, but might leave some with a "some assembly required" feeling. The book's examples aim to be more complete, while still covering a serious breadth of the Standard Library. Do not expect to use all of the examples in your project without some modification, customization and expansion. After all, they are miniature projects in their own right.
By the Numbers:
It weighs in at a whopping 1300-something pages across 19 chapters. This translates roughly to a 2-inch print copy, or a 7.3 MB PDF. The accompanying source is 5.5 MB after unzipping and contains 113 example modules. The examples were tested with Python 2.7. Some of the examples would port to Python 3 easily, others not so much. Even before reading it, I was pretty impressed and somewhat reluctant. Some of those numbers might not be very meaningful as far as the book's usefulness, but it should give you a sense of how much material is covered. In my opinion, you get a lot for the price.
What I Thought:
I use Python as my primary language and I admit that I had never heard of some of the modules covered (e.g. anydbm, asyncchat, pyclbr, just to name a few). Not only that, the modules which I had previously used were probably in the minority and smaller still are the modules which I use regularly. This is in part due to changes made in Python 2.7 that I have not absorbed, but also because there are plenty of places for cool features to hide out if you are not looking for them. I can say that after being exposed to the material, I have a better understanding of some of the most common modules and have added a few others to my arsenal.
I would recommend this book to any serious Python programmer who wants to get the most of what Python has to offer. If you are just starting with Python, but comfortable with another language, you might pick up quite a bit from just a quick skim of everything. You can then drill down into the parts which seem most applicable or interesting. However, if you are new to programming, this is probably not the book for you (as mentioned in the book's Introduction, and several other reviews I found).
I received an electronic review copy from the publisher in exchange for my review. The past two or three days my home internet has been down. This book was great to have around in a time of crisis. But due to the nature of the material I think I would personally make more use of it as a hard copy. I admit to not reading it cover to cover, but I cannot imagine anyone wanting to do so. That said, it is definitely a great addition to my library.