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I think it depends on how well you need to be able to speak or understand the language, and how fast you need to progress.
If communicating with native speakers is not that important, and if you're motivated and disciplined, you can teach yourself, at the very least, the basic grammar and syntax of most languages.
Mandarin might be different because there are about 5 different pitches that are part of the meaning of each word. I don't see how you could learn that from a book. However, you could buy, or borrow from a library, DVDs or CDs of native speakers. Once you've learned a little, even watching TV shows in Mandarin should help.
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