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Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems 5th Edition

36 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0534408961
ISBN-10: 0534408966
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Editorial Reviews


"An excellent balance of basic and advanced level classical mechanics, ideal for a junior level Physics courses."

"I like the order of topics: the early discussion of linear and non-linear oscillations and the early presentation of Lagrangian/Hamiltonian dynamics. I also like the problems at the end of the chapters."

"Good discussion of classical subjects."

About the Author

Stephen Thornton is Professor of Physics at the University of Virginia. He has over 130 research publications in experimental nuclear physics and has done research at several accelerator facilities in the United States and Europe. He has directed the research for 25 graduate students. He has held two U.S. Senior Fulbright-Hays Fellowships and a Max-Planck Fellowship to do research at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany on two occasions. He was the founding Director of the University of Virginia Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics. He has published three college textbooks for physics: "Classical Dynamics" and "Modern Physics" (both published with Brooks Cole, a part of Cengage Learning), and "Physics for Scientists and Engineers." He is currently Director of the Master of Arts in Physics Education program at the University of Virginia, which has graduated more than 70 high school physics teachers. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a member of several organizations including American Association of Physics Teachers, American Association for the Advancement of Science, National Science Teachers Association, Virginia Association of Science Teachers (past President), and the Virginia Math and Science Coalition. He has developed multiple courses for undergraduate students and high school physics teachers.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Brooks Cole; 5 edition (July 7, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0534408966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0534408961
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 7.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Salviati on October 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Below the dashed line is a 5 star review of this book that I wrote 10 years ago. It has been 19 years since I first used this book in college. Over the past couple years I began teaching AP Physics C and its become increasingly clear that this book is either a pedagogical mess or plagiarized from other texts. First its important to say this, if you interested in learning Newtonian mechanics buy Introduction to Mechanics by Kleppner and Kolenkow (K&K). The text is a masterpiece and should be required reading and its problems are outstanding, (My AP C students use it for the Mechanics portion of the class). If you want to learn about Hamiltonian Mechanics, use Goldstein, because Marion and Thorton (M&T) just borrow from it anyhow.

The notation in Marion and Thorton tends to get cluttered for no reason whatsoever, for instance read the derivation of the accelerating Atwood. Overall you do not get much of an appreciation for inertial reference frames from the text. Comparing it to the treatment that K&K gives and you quickly realize how inadequate (M&T) is. Another example is rotational dynamics. In many ways I feel like by using M&T for all those years I constrained my understanding of the subject. Now I am not saying that it is useless, I still use it as a reference but it should not be used for Intermediate Mechanics.


I took a mechanics course 9 years ago with an earlier edition, finished undergrad and left the study of physics. Recently I bought a new edition and I have just finished self studying this book and I felt that it's quite excellent. The problems are challenging but that is precisely what I expected.
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34 of 48 people found the following review helpful By "timbo984" on September 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I came to this course after taking honors freshman physics at Yale with An Intro to Mechanics by Kleppner and Kolenkow. And, unfortunately, this book just is not as good. The mathematical derivations are often tedious and uninsightful, a good description as well for many of the problems. In addition, many of the problems, particularly the tougher ones, are already worked out in the text. For me, the text is a combination of mediocre treatment of material with exceptionally poor problems. The problems in this text are, in general, easier than those in K&K, but they often take three times as long to write out. Many of them are exercises in 10th grade algebra, or 12th grade calculus (read: horrible integrals and looong expressions to simplify). What is required is not insight, but exceptional care at not making simple errors and patience for long derivations of often obvious results. For a physics major, this book just seems like a colossal waste of time and money. If you want reinforcement of concepts, turn to Feynman in his lectures. For insightful and challenging mechanics (though Hamiltonian and Lagrangian dynamics are missing), Kleppner and Kolenkow is a far better text.
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55 of 80 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Whether knowingly or unknowingly, most of the physics text reviews that I have read may be divided into two categories:
- those who loved or hated the book because it was not written to teach physics through a conceptual framework.
- those who loved or hated the book because it was not written to teach physics through the development of skills.
Then the reviews may be divided again into two categories:
- those who loved or hated the book because it conveyed an exclusively classic and/or historical treatment of physics.
- those who loved or hated the book because it conveyed a modern treatments of physics.
Therefore, I will write my review within the same framework that everyone else seems to...
I loved this book because it was written to teach physics through the development of SKILLS; I loved this book because it did so through a CLASSIC TREATMENT of physics.
Now I will explain why...
The study of physics is FAR MORE than an extraction of information from a book, the way that, say, reading an encyclopedia entry is. The study of physics, rather, is a MENTAL DISCIPLINE, that takes 10,000 hours of intensive mental effort just to become a 'fairly skilled beginner', and at least half a lifetime of intensive mental effort to become an expert in just one, very small, sub-sub-field. It is a journey in which one must tavel the same mental footsteps that the great physicists of the past did before one is ready to travel the new and original mental footsteps of their own research activity. Along the way, one must start with easy treatments, must progress through the intermediate treatments, and must one day tackle the tremendously difficult advanced treatments, of every sub-field of study.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Hedges on July 14, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am using this book to study for a graduate-level physics assessment exam, so I am not going through it in the natural order of the chapters. I will update this review once I have finished going through the book.

From what I've read so far, this is my new favorite mechanics book. In general, I have not been satisfied with any of the mechanics textbooks I've read so far, with my previous favorite being the Landau/Lifshitz mechanics text.

As an undergraduate, I used lecture notes my professor wrote supplemented with Taylor's Classical Mechanics. I thought Taylor's book was very accessible, but was disappointed that it did not cover the material on a deeper level. However, the worked out examples were very helpful.

In my Master's program, I used Goldstein's Classical Mechanics, and supplemented it with the Landau/Lifshitz book. Goldstein covered the material in more depth, but I felt like I was understanding the mathematics and missing out on some of the bigger connections between the mathematics and the physics. I also felt like I understood the material in the narrow context it was used, but that was about it. Goldstein also does not have very many worked out examples throughout the text, and that made learning some of the topics difficult. Landau/Lifshitz book provided me with much more insight into what was physically going on in these systems, and the repercussions of the math behind the systems. The L/L book is very terse, which can be both an advantage and disadvantage at times. The worked out problems usually do not include all of the steps, but enough is provided such that a student could write out the complete derivation on their own.

So far I have really enjoyed Thorton & Marion.
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