This is, frankly, terrible advice. Why would anyone new to React want to avoid JSX? JSX is the best part about React. It lets the developer write code that looks just like the HTML that will end up in the DOM. This is a significant reduction of cognitive load, and with decent syntax highlighting, it is very readable. And if you already know HTML, then it’s incredibly simple to pick up.
I also strongly disagree about leaving out Redux. React/Redux has become so common that they are essentially the same framework. If you write your React as pure functions that return JSX, then it’s drop dead easy. Want to add state? Write a very simple reducer, then use Provider and connect to hook it up. It is not difficult at all to build a very simple app this way. The only thing that React without Redux is good for is stateless apps.
Facebook provides create-react-app to make it easy to get up and running. The only drawback is that it defaults to a Component instead of a pure function, but it’s easy to change that.
The hardest part of learning any new framework/language/library — once you’ve gotten the damn thing set up and working — is knowing what you need to know, and what you don’t. Most people new to a framework spend a lot of time learning unnecessary features, etc. that they’ll probably never use. That’s a waste of resources. Learn exactly what you need to know, exactly when you need to know it. The trick is finding some mentor or some tutorial that will make that possible.