The Golden Rule of Homebrewing, according to Charlie Papazian, the father of homebrewing. These kind words have held the hands of many thousands of amateurs through the travails of their first (and even subsequent) brewing experiences.
Charles Papazian has authored two widely referenced books on home brewing, the New Complete Joy of Home Brewing and The Home Brewer's Companion. The New Complete is a great book for a first-time brewer, and has an excellent tutorial on "making your first batch". The Companion has more recipes and a discussion on malting grain. Both contain discussions of ingredients and other issues regarding the brewing of beer.