Common Lisp is a big language. Very big. If you think that C++ has a large standard library, consider Common Lisp's 900+ standard functions/macros.

The Lisp language has made a long way since McCarthy's foundations (based on 7 basic forms) more than 40 years ago - and Common Lisp is the final result - a complete, modern programming language, with a rich set of data structures, an object-oriented system and a few industrial-strength implementations.

"Successful Lisp"s main goal, it seems, is to present this language to the wide public, and to teach programmers how to use it. The author claims that the book is suitable for complete beginners - I disagree. In my opinion, there are better books for Lisp beginners, for example D. Touretzky's "Common Lisp: A gentle introduction to symbolic computation" - it not only starts with the very basics, but also presents the Lisp spirit/philosophy better (I'll post a review some time...). "Successful Lisp" is, however, a very good tutorial to the Common Lisp language.

The author manages to combine a truly vast scope with a readable tutorial-like style. After getting over the basics (including a very nice "hands-on" chapter, where the reader is encouraged to work through the text in-front of a Common Lisp environment), the book really dives into the guts of Common Lisp, presenting many useful and practical issues. CLOS (CL Object System), error handling, built-in documentation, mapping, sequences, closures, streams, macros, foreign language interface, editing, debugging, garbage collection, handling large projects with packages - it's all in there.

I think this is a great second book for people learning Lisp (and in particular Common Lisp) from scratch. It gives a wide overview of everything-useful in the language. The reader is not supposed to remember everything, naturally. But having read it at least once is very helpful in future work, especially answering "there must be some way to do this..." questions.

And best of all - this book is free. Just google the title, and you can download it wholly to your computer for comfortable HTML browsing. So, if you've read about Lisp, got excited about the functional programming style, and want to move on - learning the tools Common Lisp has to offer, this is a good book for you.


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