Is char signed or unsigned by default?

The book is wrong. The standard does not specify if plain char is signed or unsigned.

In fact, the standard defines three distinct types: char, signed char, and unsigned char. If you #include <limits.h> and then look at CHAR_MIN, you can find out if plain char is signed or unsigned (if CHAR_MIN is less than 0 or equal to 0), but even then, the three types are distinct as far as the standard is concerned.

Do note that char is special in this way. If you declare a variable as int it is 100% equivalent to declaring it as signed int. This is always true for all compilers and architectures.

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