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168 people found this helpful

ByDr. Alexander Mircescuon October 10, 2001

This book can be divided into three logical parts. The first part includes an overview of 4 dimensional physics (spacetime physics, chapter 1), an introduction to special relativity (physics in flat spacetime, chapters 2 to 7), an introduction to the tensor calculus (the mathematics of curved spacetime, chapters 8 to 15) and describes in detail Einstein's general theory of relativity (Einstein's geometric theory of relativity, chapters 16 to 22).

This first part is the best introduction to the theory of relativity I have ever read. The mathematics is introduced in a very comprehensive manner, there are lots of exercises where the reader can get used to the tensor calculus. The physical explanations are just brilliant and what is more important general relativity is introduced in the manner Einstein itself viewed it: as a geometric representation of gravity! Other books on this subject formulate general relativity only algebraically (like quantum theory) but this hides the importance of the idea that all gravitational effects can be extracted from the geometry of spacetime. The algebraic formulation may be regarded as more modern by some authors, it must be said however that no algebraic formulation managed to give more physical insight. The algebraic treatment tries to unify the view of general relativity and quantum field theory, but the physical discrepancies between the two theories remain unsolved.

The second part starts with the application of general relativity to stars (stars and relativity, chapters 23 to 26), goes on to the universe (the universe, chapters 27-30) and to black holes (gravitational collapse and black holes, chapters 31 to 34), and describes finally gravitational waves (gravitational waves, chapters 35 to 37) and experimental methods (experimental tests of general relativity, chapters 38 to 40).

This second part is a good overview, but many details of the computations of the applications are not shown. For the readers interrested in the details the two volume book by Zel'dovich and Novikov "Stars and Relativity"/"The Structure and Evolution of the Universe" is much better (but also much longer).

The third part finally describes the frontiers of general relativity (frontiers, chapters 41 to 44). Like part two it gives a good overview not showing many computational details.

This first part is the best introduction to the theory of relativity I have ever read. The mathematics is introduced in a very comprehensive manner, there are lots of exercises where the reader can get used to the tensor calculus. The physical explanations are just brilliant and what is more important general relativity is introduced in the manner Einstein itself viewed it: as a geometric representation of gravity! Other books on this subject formulate general relativity only algebraically (like quantum theory) but this hides the importance of the idea that all gravitational effects can be extracted from the geometry of spacetime. The algebraic formulation may be regarded as more modern by some authors, it must be said however that no algebraic formulation managed to give more physical insight. The algebraic treatment tries to unify the view of general relativity and quantum field theory, but the physical discrepancies between the two theories remain unsolved.

The second part starts with the application of general relativity to stars (stars and relativity, chapters 23 to 26), goes on to the universe (the universe, chapters 27-30) and to black holes (gravitational collapse and black holes, chapters 31 to 34), and describes finally gravitational waves (gravitational waves, chapters 35 to 37) and experimental methods (experimental tests of general relativity, chapters 38 to 40).

This second part is a good overview, but many details of the computations of the applications are not shown. For the readers interrested in the details the two volume book by Zel'dovich and Novikov "Stars and Relativity"/"The Structure and Evolution of the Universe" is much better (but also much longer).

The third part finally describes the frontiers of general relativity (frontiers, chapters 41 to 44). Like part two it gives a good overview not showing many computational details.

29 people found this helpful

ByTomason February 14, 2007

The Author attempts the very remarkable objective of satisfying everybody's needs in one single book. For that purpose the book is divided into track 1 and track 2 sections. Unfortunately, this attempt is, in my opinion, not completely successful. Advanced GR readers will surely find too many trivial topics in the book, while beginners will have difficulties even with track 1 pages. My review will provide the advanced beginner's point of view. I read all track 1 sections and a few track 2 at the beginning of the book.

The first part of the book where geometrical objects, one forms and tensors are described is very pedagogical. However, as more advanced topics are introduced you are left with the unease feeling that something important is left behind. The answer is clear, what is missing is track 2 contents, but track 2 are much more difficult to read. By reading just track 1 sections you are led too fast to the deeper results of GR. The treatment is too superficial and a lot of results are taken for granted; or referred to track 2 pages.

There are a lot of exercises and examples in the book. However, few exercises are solved and the examples frequently refer to sideways difficult physical topics, surely not meant to clarify the main text.

The huge size of the book adds up to its reading difficulties. It is heavy and overwhelming. I usually try to reduce costs by choosing paperback editions, but the size of this book could justify a hardcover version.

In summary I must say this is not a book for beginners. I found its writing style confusing and my knowledge in GR was little improved by reading track 1 sections. To my discharge I must say I read without difficulties Foster & Nightingale's and Carroll's but could not get through Wald's. My recommendation would be to start with Foster's, then continue with Carrols's and next, what's next? Misner's is surely not a good third step.

The book may be more appropriate for advanced students. I intend to follow the author's suggestions and make a second reading including the most interesting track 2 sections.

The first part of the book where geometrical objects, one forms and tensors are described is very pedagogical. However, as more advanced topics are introduced you are left with the unease feeling that something important is left behind. The answer is clear, what is missing is track 2 contents, but track 2 are much more difficult to read. By reading just track 1 sections you are led too fast to the deeper results of GR. The treatment is too superficial and a lot of results are taken for granted; or referred to track 2 pages.

There are a lot of exercises and examples in the book. However, few exercises are solved and the examples frequently refer to sideways difficult physical topics, surely not meant to clarify the main text.

The huge size of the book adds up to its reading difficulties. It is heavy and overwhelming. I usually try to reduce costs by choosing paperback editions, but the size of this book could justify a hardcover version.

In summary I must say this is not a book for beginners. I found its writing style confusing and my knowledge in GR was little improved by reading track 1 sections. To my discharge I must say I read without difficulties Foster & Nightingale's and Carroll's but could not get through Wald's. My recommendation would be to start with Foster's, then continue with Carrols's and next, what's next? Misner's is surely not a good third step.

The book may be more appropriate for advanced students. I intend to follow the author's suggestions and make a second reading including the most interesting track 2 sections.

ByTomason February 14, 2007

The Author attempts the very remarkable objective of satisfying everybody's needs in one single book. For that purpose the book is divided into track 1 and track 2 sections. Unfortunately, this attempt is, in my opinion, not completely successful. Advanced GR readers will surely find too many trivial topics in the book, while beginners will have difficulties even with track 1 pages. My review will provide the advanced beginner's point of view. I read all track 1 sections and a few track 2 at the beginning of the book.

The first part of the book where geometrical objects, one forms and tensors are described is very pedagogical. However, as more advanced topics are introduced you are left with the unease feeling that something important is left behind. The answer is clear, what is missing is track 2 contents, but track 2 are much more difficult to read. By reading just track 1 sections you are led too fast to the deeper results of GR. The treatment is too superficial and a lot of results are taken for granted; or referred to track 2 pages.

There are a lot of exercises and examples in the book. However, few exercises are solved and the examples frequently refer to sideways difficult physical topics, surely not meant to clarify the main text.

The huge size of the book adds up to its reading difficulties. It is heavy and overwhelming. I usually try to reduce costs by choosing paperback editions, but the size of this book could justify a hardcover version.

In summary I must say this is not a book for beginners. I found its writing style confusing and my knowledge in GR was little improved by reading track 1 sections. To my discharge I must say I read without difficulties Foster & Nightingale's and Carroll's but could not get through Wald's. My recommendation would be to start with Foster's, then continue with Carrols's and next, what's next? Misner's is surely not a good third step.

The book may be more appropriate for advanced students. I intend to follow the author's suggestions and make a second reading including the most interesting track 2 sections.

The first part of the book where geometrical objects, one forms and tensors are described is very pedagogical. However, as more advanced topics are introduced you are left with the unease feeling that something important is left behind. The answer is clear, what is missing is track 2 contents, but track 2 are much more difficult to read. By reading just track 1 sections you are led too fast to the deeper results of GR. The treatment is too superficial and a lot of results are taken for granted; or referred to track 2 pages.

There are a lot of exercises and examples in the book. However, few exercises are solved and the examples frequently refer to sideways difficult physical topics, surely not meant to clarify the main text.

The huge size of the book adds up to its reading difficulties. It is heavy and overwhelming. I usually try to reduce costs by choosing paperback editions, but the size of this book could justify a hardcover version.

In summary I must say this is not a book for beginners. I found its writing style confusing and my knowledge in GR was little improved by reading track 1 sections. To my discharge I must say I read without difficulties Foster & Nightingale's and Carroll's but could not get through Wald's. My recommendation would be to start with Foster's, then continue with Carrols's and next, what's next? Misner's is surely not a good third step.

The book may be more appropriate for advanced students. I intend to follow the author's suggestions and make a second reading including the most interesting track 2 sections.

Bydenniscon January 11, 2011

MTW is OK as a single volume reference book on gravitation. However, it does not TEACH the subject well. It does have lots of cute "boxes" which were cutting age last century, but there are better books to learn from now. Of course there does not seem to be a good new and current single volume book on General Relativity. Gravitational theories now abound in too many forms for that.

There was a surely a time that it WAS (1973) the biggest, latest, best, but that time has long passed. There are better introductory books for students to start with (I even still like the very old Eddington's insightful introduction: Mathematical Theory of Relativity, and Dirac's extremely concise General Relativity). There are many much newer books covering current research and current experimental approaches.

True MTW has most everything they knew last century in one large book and is a good general reference, but don't expect much if you are trying to study General Relativity on your own. It is still being used in many graduate schools for students with access to experts, but it of little value outside such settings. I am afraid that most reviewers are instructors that already knew the subject before picking up the weighty volume and have forgotten what is truly needed to truly understand such a deep subject when starting from the beginning. The reviews I read seem to be mostly for teachers trying to pick a textbook for a class and not for individuals trying to learn.

There was a surely a time that it WAS (1973) the biggest, latest, best, but that time has long passed. There are better introductory books for students to start with (I even still like the very old Eddington's insightful introduction: Mathematical Theory of Relativity, and Dirac's extremely concise General Relativity). There are many much newer books covering current research and current experimental approaches.

True MTW has most everything they knew last century in one large book and is a good general reference, but don't expect much if you are trying to study General Relativity on your own. It is still being used in many graduate schools for students with access to experts, but it of little value outside such settings. I am afraid that most reviewers are instructors that already knew the subject before picking up the weighty volume and have forgotten what is truly needed to truly understand such a deep subject when starting from the beginning. The reviews I read seem to be mostly for teachers trying to pick a textbook for a class and not for individuals trying to learn.

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ByJames H. McDuffieon September 11, 2003

Virtually everyone who works or who worked or who would like to work in GR brags up this book and boasts of reading it from cover to cover. Most have not. I, unfortunately, have. It rambles and is scatterbrained and halfa* on many topics. The would be investigator would be better off following another course of study in differential topology and differential geometry, almost any other relativity text or texts, and the literature. It should be kept in mind, however, that when this book was first published the global methods were like lie algebra was at one time - researchers writing papers for and to each other with nobody else in mind. This was a supposed attempt to make the material available to a wider audience. It may have degenerated into intellectual onanism.

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ByJaneon July 10, 2008

Sure this book is great, but what it really needs for self-study is a two volume companion book which lists all of the exercises with detailed solutions. Similar to the way _Problems in Real Analysis: A Workbook with Solutions_ by Charalambos D. Aliprantis is the companion book for the real analysis textbook _Principles of Real Analysis_ by the same author. There is a problem book for general relativity with solutions, but its approach is so different from that of _Gravitation_, that it is pretty useless as a companion book.

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ByAmazon Customeron March 21, 2013

I found this text basically a good compendium of gravitational physics, relativity and astrophysics, But find his descriptive approach a bit difficult to follow at times. It almost seems as if he is more interested in impressing the reader with his knowledge and skill as a writer than in teach or communicating knowledge. It is usable as a text for advanced physics course, but might require "translation" in class to decode the "eloquently" presented examples.

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