"Effective STL" is a logical continuation of the two original books. It is kept in much the same style with short recipe like chapters that are loosely coupled which makes it easy to read them out of order.
Those of you programming in C++ know that STL has been one of the most influential libraries in the C++ world in the past decade. Few will deny that STL holds an incredible amount of power and versatility. Unfortunately this power is in most cases largely unleashed. The problem lies in the fact that STL is a relatively new offering with little source code using it to its full potential and documentation that is somtimes less than adequate. This is the issue Scott is trying to address in his book.
If you are like me you probably use STL in your code already, chances are you use nested containers and perhaps even try to play with predicates. But if like me you feel that you are barely scratching the surface and you would like to use it a bit more extensively to simplify your coding effort Scott's book will appeal.
"Effective STL" is an enjoyable read. Scott has an incredible talent at presenting quirky issues in a straightforward manner so that even I can comprehend them! "Effective STL" scores particularly well in this department. There are very few books that I can honestly say I understand 100% after a single read. "Effective STL" is such a book.
The first chapters introduce the feature most commonly used in STL: containers. Topics such as choosing the right container and problems with container independent code are covered with depth and clarity. The book moves on to talk about more advanced issues such as thread safety in STL (an issue very much avoided by most STL books) and about proper practices for item removal from containers. He points out why std::vector<char> may sometimes be a better alternative to std::string and how to integrate STL containers with legacy C/C++ code. Some treatment is given to the very pragmatic issue of understanding STL error messages (if you ever programmed templates extensively I'm sure you know what I'm talking about).
A few pages are dedicated to the issues of localization. Not enough detail in my view but in Scott's defense most C++ books are guilty of this.
I would be doing disservice to Scott Meyers if I didn't elaborate on the style of his writing a little. His books are all a very enaging read and "Effective STL" is no exception here. Unlike books of certain other authors Scott really has some sense of humour which makes his writing a joy to read. Short and concise chapters make the book an ideal time filler for your morning train commute. "Effective STL" introduces colour text in order to emphasize the important parts of the code being discussed. I found those (judiciously used) colour cues made reading the book even more enjoyable.
Summary. If you are a C++ programmer you must have this book. As it's unlikely that you already know all the items this book covers, even long toothed C++ gurus will have much to gain from this book. If you only just embarked on the STL adventure you will find "Effective STL" a goldmine of useful information about the library. If you already own "Effective C++" and/or "More Effective C++" I doubt I need to convince you that you should have the third one too. It is in every bit as good as the first two.
Undisputable five stars out of five.
You can buy "Effective STL" and the other two titles by Scott Meyers from amazon.com and other big bookstores.
Effective STL: 50 Specific Ways to Improve Your Use of the Standard Template Library
by Scott Meyers
Paperback - 240 pages 1st edition (June 6, 2001)
Addison-Wesley Pub Co; ISBN: 0201749629