The problem with textbooks in this context, is that most schools don't teach "SQL Server 2008 in Windows 2008" for the simple reason that, when you graduate, you'll need to know "SQL Server 2012, on Windows 12" and they'll have taught you nothing.
I've never read the Murach book, but I'll tell you right now, any book that says you'll learn: "How to create complex inner and outer joins, summary queries, and subqueries..." has nothing that a professional would find useful in it...that doesn't even fall in the scope of a MSSQL server book, imho...That's DBA territory.
You're going to need to go out and hit the "MSSQL 2008 for Dummies" section of your local bookstore. That's the sort of place you'll find tech manuals that deal with software-specific configuration issues. I'd recommend "Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Internals"; it's not a bad book. Don't buy a book on Windows Server 2008: unless you're setting up AD on it, you won't need it.
What you will find, very quickly, is that it is very easy to do very easy things, and very difficult to do everything else. The online documentation is horrible; they hired savants who know the exact example that would help you understand their cryptic instructions, and they ruthlessly expunge all those examples from their site, choosing instead to use ones that are so simple, so wholly idiotic, you'd never have needed them, or so esoteric you don't know why ANYONE would have needed them.
The visual studio tools (which damn well BETTER come with the software) are very nice. If you don't know a lot of VB scripting, you're going to need to learn to love the "Business Intelligence Development Studio": it's ornery and picky, but it's better than nothing.
There is no substitute for just installing it and playing with it. You can't even have good questions until you've seen it running. It's very easy to set up: just stick the disks in and go.