The first chapter is available for free download and it talks about Portals and Portlets in general. To get you quickly started with development, the first chapter explains installing / using Liferay and developing a Hello World portlet. The detailed TOC for chapter 1 is as follows:
1.1 What is Portal?
1.2 Portal benefits
1.2.1 Enriched User Experience
1.2.2 Compliments Web Applications
Bridge Information gap
1.3 What is Portlet?
1.3.1 Pluggable User Interface
1.4 Why Portlets?
1.5 Portal Infrastructure
1.5.1 Portlet Container
1.5.2 Portal Server
Choosing a portal server
1.6 Getting started with Liferay Portal Server
1.6.1 Installing Liferay Portal Server 5.2.2
1.6.2 Using Liferay
1.7 Setting up the Development Environment
1.7.1 Configure Eclipse IDE
1.7.2 Create Project Structure
1.8 Hello World Portlet Example
1.8.1 Create HelloWorld Portlet
Add Portlet to liferay category
Configure liferay-specific features
1. 8.2 Building Hello World project
ANT build tool
Ant build script
Building the project
1.8.3 Add Hello World portlet
It was fun writing chapter 3 and 4, because of Spring Portlet MVC. Though Spring 3.0 is in RC1 but it is packed with lot of new and interesting topics: integration with JSR 303 and 330, new annotations for identifying portlet methods, and so on. I will write in more detail about chapter 3 and 4, once its ready for next MEAP release.