how to construct an irreducible representation of SU(3)?
Read (buy) Georgi's "Lie Algebras In Particle Physics: from Isospin To Unified Theories".
That's the best reference out there for graduate students on your question.
I own and like the book by http://books.google.com/books?id=B_...resnum=1&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false".
I haven't read the book humanino mentions, but I know many people that like it and recommend it.
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