Syngress has a number of basics guides; meant to quick get the reader up to speed.

In The Basics of Web Hacking: Tools and Techniques to Attack the Web and The Basics of Hacking and Penetration Testing, Second Edition: Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing Made Easy, authors Josh Pauli and  Patrick Engebretson provide the reader with a quick and dirty overview of the topic, and enough tactical information to get you on started.

The book are heavy on the practical use and the use of tools, and don’t waste space on theory or general topics.

Both books follow a similar approach in that they take the view that the reader has no experience in the area.

There are lots of how-to examples and exercises and each covers the main tools in their respective spaces.

While script kiddies just run tools, the books also show how to understand and interpret the output of the tools.  Each provides a high-level methodology for conducting a penetration test or hacking exercise. 

The books are meant as a starting guide and do meet that goal.  For the serious beginner interested in the topics, these are two good guides to get you on your way.