A reader who is coming to Python for the first time would be well served reading Guido van Rossum's Python Tutorial, which can be downloaded from <http://python.org/>, or picking up one of the several excellent books devoted to teaching Python to novices. As indicated in the Preface, the audience of this book is a bit different.
The above said, some readers of this book might use Python only infrequently, or not have used Python for a while, or may be sufficiently versed in numerous other programming languages, that a quick review on Python constructs suffices for understanding. This appendix will briefly mention each major element of the Python language itself, but will not address any libraries (even standard and ubiquitous ones that may be discussed in the main chapters). Not all fine points of syntax and semantics will be covered here, either. This review, however, should suffice for a reader to understand all the examples in this book.
Even readers who are familiar with Python might enjoy skimming this review. The focus and spin of this summary are a bit different from most introductions. I believe that the way I categorize and explain a number of language features can provide a moderately novel?but equally accurate?perspective on the Python language. Ideally, a Python programmer will come away from this review with a few new insights on the familiar constructs she uses every day. This appendix does not shy away from using some abstract terms from computer science?if a particular term is not familiar to you, you will not lose much by skipping over the sentence it occurs in; some of these terms are explained briefly in the Glossary.