In his new book, Coders at Work, Peter Seibel interviews some of the best software developers in the world, asking how they work, what practices they follow, how they learned, and what advice they can offer. Because Peter is, himself, an experienced senior software developer, he knows most relevant questions to ask, the ones that have to do with how real programmers do their work. He engages in a real back-and-forth conversation rather than just presenting a questionairre. You feel like you’re sitting there with them, as he asks all the same questions you’d want to ask if you were there yourself.
How do you you find the best programmers? He ran his own little contest: he got a lot of nominations, and people voted. I am confident that this worked, because a lot of the people he interviewed are people I know to be among the best. I know Guy L. Steele Jr and L Peter Deutsch, and consider them two of the very best in the world. Most of the others I have heard of.
Peter is also the author of Practical Common Lisp, the best book to read if you want to write real programs in Common Lisp. His understanding of the language and its deep concepts are second to none. He has also done advanced software development at several companies, including BEA Systems and Kenamea. Having that kind of experience lets him ask probing and relevant questions that reveal what’s really interesting about how the interviewees work and think. There’s no other book like it.