Top critical review
41 of 45 people found this helpful
Fails epically at its fundamental responsibility: teaching
on October 1, 2010
Of the 18 math textbooks I've used in my academic lifetime, this is the worst by a mile. Let's start with the unforgivable flaw: it does a terrible job explaining mathematical concepts. Mr. Stewart seems to assume absolute mastery of all material involved (often high-level algebra and trigonometry) -- an assumption that causes him to frequently skip or combine steps in explanations, which can leave you scratching your head at how the hell he arrived at the conclusion (sometimes he even seems to assume you know the very thing he's supposed to be teaching you). I found that reading the intro & examples for any given section gives adequate training to solve the first 10 or 20 problems, but for the remaining 30 you're on your own, stuck there staring blankly at the page, frustrated at having no educational resource to turn to. If you want to survive whatever class force-feeds this textbook down your throat, you'd better hope to end up with a professor who's clear and helpful enough to compensate (do prior research on ratemyprofessors.com), because you won't get far relying on this book alone.
For the record, I'm not a moron. I scored 91%ile on the math SAT, got an A in the course preceding this one (Precalculus), and have always felt comfortable with math. This book made me feel pretty dumb until I found all the Amazon reviews on Stewart's other calc books making the same complaints. Don't let it get you down.
We can dock further points for being 1,000+ pages thick, not very solidly constructed (the binding gets weak and wiggly pretty fast), and with a sticker closing in on $160, outrageously overpriced.