In 1998 when I first became involved with the Microsoft Windows 2000 Joint Development Program (JDP), there was very little data available on Active Directory. In the following months and even after the initial release of Windows 2000, there were very few books or white papers to help early adopters of Active Directory get started. And some of the information that had been published was often inaccurate or misleading. Many early deployers had to learn by trial and error. As time passed, more and more informative books were published, which helped fill the information gap.
By the end of the second year of its release, there was an explosion of information on Active Directory. Not only were there over 50 books published, but Microsoft also cleaned up their documentation on MSDN (http://msdn.microsoft.com) and their AD web site (http://www.microsoft.com/ad/). Now those sites have numerous white papers, many of which could serve as mini booklets. Other web sites have popped up as well that contain a great deal of information on Active Directory. With Windows Server 2003, Microsoft has taken their level of documentation a step higher. Extensive information on Active Directory is available directly from any Windows Server 2003 computer in the form of the Help and Support Center (available from the Start Menu). So with all this data available on Active Directory in the form of published books, white papers, web sites, and even from within the operating system, why would you want to purchase this one?
In the summer of 2002, I was thumbing through the Perl Cookbook from O'Reilly, looking for help with an automation script I was writing for Active Directory. It just so happened that there was a recipe that addressed the specific task I was trying to perform. In Cookbook parlance, a recipe provides instructions on how to solve a particular problem. I thought that since Active Directory is such a task-oriented environment, the Cookbook approach might be a very good format. After a little research, I found there were books (often multiple) on nearly every facet of Active Directory, including introductory books, design guides, books that focused on migration, programming books, and reference books. The one type of book I didn't see was a task-oriented "how-to" book, which is exactly what the Cookbook format provides.
Based on my own experience, hours of research, and years of hanging out on Active Directory newsgroups and mailing lists, I've compiled over 325 recipes that should answer the majority of "How do I do X" questions one could pose about Active Directory. And just as in the Perl community where the Perl Cookbook was a great addition that sells well even today, I believe the Active Directory Cookbook will also be a great addition to any Active Directory library.