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The animal on the cover of XAML in a Nutshell is a kudu. Not to be confused with kudzu, a purple-flowered vine indigenous to East Asia, the kudu, native to East Africa, comprises 2 of the 90 species of antelope: Lesser Kudu and Greater Kudu. Both species have coats of a brownish hue that are adorned with white stripes. Males are easily distinguished from their distaff counterparts by their twisted horns, whose myriad traditional applications among African cultures include serving as musical instruments, honey receptacles, and ritual symbols of male potency.
The cover image is from the Dover Pictorial Archive. The cover font is Adobe ITC Garamond. The text font is Linotype Birka; the heading font is Adobe Myriad Condensed; and the code font is LucasFont's TheSans Mono Condensed.