Often referred to as 'the rails bible' Dave Thomas takes you though the process of learning ruby on rails in a methodical and practical way. The book is not for absolute beginners but does provide a few basics about the ruby programming language.
You are taken straight into creating a full web application which gives you the basics. After this you have a lot of reference material which is really useful.
A single book is never going to take you from start to finish but if you have any experience in programming this will take you most of the way there.
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