While I agree Perl is perfect for sysadmin applications and is more powerful than shell, I am concerned about your experience. I have a couple of languages under my belt and I have a difficult time imagining what it would have been like for me if Perl had been my first language. Let's face it. Perl can be intimidating. It is dense with arcane punctuation and there are about 3 ways to code every statement. Of course, this is also plus in my book, freedom and conciseness.
"Teach yourself Perl in 21 days" published by Sams is a lightweight approach which assumes you do not necessarily understand programming. I used it for a gentle introduction, myself. Be warned, however, there is much missing in the book. You will need to expand your library quickly. Still, it's a good place to begin.
I hope this helps you.
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