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I am wondering if there is a way to use this book without performing the complex joins that have UNION statements in them. I think it is chapter 9 or 10 of the book, the chapter that shows the most complex mysql statements. How could I go about using this book without using those complex mysql joins.

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You probably shouldn't forgo the JOINS, but each UNION query is the combination of two SELECTs. You can run the SELECTs separately and combine the results manually. (To be clear, if you try to do it without the JOINs, the logic for combining that logic within PHP would be extremely messy and tedious.)

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