Here's how the book is laid out:
Chapter 1, An Overview of Perl. Getting started is always hard to do. This chapter presents the fundamental ideas of Perl in an informal, curl-up-in-your-favorite-chair fashion. Not a full tutorial, it merely offers a quick jump-start, which may not serve everyone's need. Learning Perl (discussed in the next section) offers a more complete, carefully paced introduction to the language.
Chapter 2, The Gory Details. This chapter consists of an in-depth, no-holds-barred discussion of the guts of the language, from data types, variables, and objects to functions, subroutines, and modules, as well as special variables, control flow, and regular expressions. You'll gain a good sense of how the language works.
Chapter 3, Functions. Here you'll find an authoritative, reference-style description of Perl's built-in functions. The explanations cover function syntax, arguments, and general use.
Chapter 4, References and Nested Data Structures. References in Perl are analogous to pointers in C. This chapter tells you how to create references, how to get at the data they refer to, and how to build complex, nested data structures by using references. A tutorial and extensive examples guide you through the subtleties of the topic.
Chapter 5, Packages, Modules, and Object Classes. Packages give you a tool for namespace management, and library modules enable you to write reusable code. Together, packages and modules provide a basis for Perl's object-oriented facilities. In addition to explaining these matters, this chapter offers a brief refresher on object-oriented programming, illustrates how to treat built-in variables as objects, and provides some hints for good object-oriented design using Perl.
Chapter 6, Social Engineering. This chapter presents how Perl tries to cooperate with everything and everyone in the whole wide world, up to a point.
Chapter 7, The Standard Perl Library. This reference chapter describes all the library modules that come with the standard Perl distribution. These modules greatly extend the range of the language. Interfaces to standard database packages, tools for managing terminal input, mechanisms for loading code on the fly at run-time, mathematical packages, safe programming aids, and much else--it is well worth your time to browse through the brief listing of modules at the beginning of this chapter.
Chapter 8, Other Oddments. Leftovers worthy of a main meal: the Perl debugger, efficiency considerations, common mistakes, programming style, and a few historical and postmodernist notes.
Chapter 9, Diagnostic Messages. Special communications from Perl to you at particularly difficult moments--sometimes helpful, occasionally snide, and too often ignored. But never irrelevant.
Glossary. The words and definitions you'll find here aren't exactly what you'd expect in a normal glossary, but Perl is not really a normal language (nor are the authors of this book really normal authors, or normally real authors).