This book has something for everyone regardless of whether you are a beginner with PHP or one of the most experienced PHP programmers around. It covers everything about PHP from the basic syntax through to writing your own language extensions.
If you expect to only ever buy one book on PHP then this may just be the one that you are looking for. After a brief history of PHP (so that you know where it fits into the overall web development environment) there are chapters for programmers who are just moving to PHP that introduce all of the basic syntax of the language.
By chapter seven the book has passed on to more intermediate level subjects such as web techniques, databases, graphics, and security. The last few chapters then cover more advanced topics such as writing your own PHP extensions, templating, performance tuning, and writing cross platform code.
The book finishes with two appendices the first of which is an extensive function/method, property/variable reference that saves you having to go online to be able to remind yourself of how to use them. The second is a listing of many of the extensions that are available for PHP, what they are used for, and how to install them.
Not all of this book will be of interest to you at any one time in your programming career as once you get some reasonable experience the first few chapters will be common knowledge while for beginners most of the later chapters will be beyond their current needs. Instead this will be a book that will be a useful companion over a long period of time and may make it unnecessary for you to ever need to refer to online PHP references except in those circumstances where you need to use a less common extension not fully described in the book.
This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.