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Customer Review

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Worst Textbook I've Had in 4 Years., December 14, 2009
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This review is from: Engineering Mechanics: Dynamics (Hardcover)
I hate to do this two the two Penn State professors that co-authored this book, but it is without a doubt the worst textbook I've had to use in the 4 years at school. I don't know if they replaced the Hibbeler book series or not in other schools. As a point of reference I liked Hibbeler's books (at least Statics and Mechanics of Materials books that I used and kept) so if you hated them, maybe we have different expectations of what a text book should be like. The authors undoubtedly know what they are talking about, but the way they present the information is horrible. The pages are filled with equations and derivations that are completely unnecessary. The authors go into the most detailed aspect of a problem without ever really conveying the big picture. I've noticed multiple formulas boxed in and high lighted and played up like it is a generic form when it really only dealt with the specific problem discussed in the little chapter intro story (you know what I'm talking about). For example the authors go into great depths discussing the application of natural frequency, amplitude and a few other parameters of a very specific application while never really explaining their general meaning and how to recognize them. Everything seemed to be thrown at the reader at once. Different scenarios are often given for what to do in different given situation, but no attempt is made to explain why this is happening and must be done in each case. This makes all of the formulas seem random and independent of everything else and I personally can't just remember multitudes of different processes without a clear and solid logical progression from one to another.
Understand that I do have a bias which is that I am not a physics/engineering mechanics major (I'm CE) which means I'm not a huge fan of the subject. However my knowledge of physics and math did not limit me in any way at all when using this book, nor should I be considered unqualified to critique due to the fact that I'm "that guy in civil." The general concepts and the scope of their application discussed in this text are not difficult(!!) - just the way this information is presented is hard to follow and understand.

I guess its the first edition so hopefully the authors will readjust their approach a bit.
Don't get me wrong, theres a lot of information in this book, but if I had to pick 1 word to describe it, it would be "disorganized"
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 30, 2011 10:48:07 AM PDT
M. Gall says:
I agree completely with the well-written comments above, so I won't repeat them, except to amplify the point that this is the worst textbook I have seen on any subject, ever. More than the authors, however, I fault McGraw Hill for putting out a shoddy product. It was clear that they cut corners on every aspect of the book. Lousy clip art illustrations re-used throughout the book, photo service images used for no reason other than filling up space to make it look like a real textbook, and if any editors were involved in this I suspect that they have no knowledge of engineering. I refused to buy this book for my dynamics class, and I avoid buying all McGraw Hill products now because clearly this corporation is interested only in increasing profits. It is unacceptable to charge people $150 for this lousy book.

Posted on Jan 12, 2012 9:11:19 AM PST
The comments by Skachkov are respectfully and honestly written, and so they should be given respectful consideration. However, as an instructor who is familiar with both of the dynamics textbooks mentioned, I feel that I must point out a pertinent fact. Skachkov says that he "noticed multiple formulas boxed in and highlighted and played up like it is a generic form when it really only dealt with [a] specific problem" in the textbook by Gray et al. I would disagree with the part about "playing up to be a generic form". However, more importantly, I would also point out that the boxed equations in Hibbeler's textbook are no more general than those in Gray et al. The only reason why the boxed equations in Hibbeler's textbook appear to always work so "smoothly" is because the examples and the homework problems in it are chosen so that you never encounter a problem where the boxed equations don't work "smoothly". This is a pedagogical choice on the part of Hibbeler, and it may be justifiable. However, in my opinion, one of the most admirable qualities about the textbook by Gray et al. is that they don't do that. Dynamics is a complicated subject (e.g., there are such things as classes entitled "Advanced Dynamics" and "Satellite Dynamics" and "Advanced Analytical Dynamics" and on and on), and it shouldn't be made to appear simpler than it is. With all due respect to R. C. Hibbeler, I think that the dynamics textbook by Gray et al. gives the student a better "heads up" to the sort of things he or she will encounter in "real life" problems than Hibbeler's dynamics textbook does. If you want to actually know the subject, this is something you may want to consider.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 1, 2013 5:44:59 AM PDT
As an instructor teaching Dynamics for several years, I complete disagree with you on the book by Gray. As you mentioned in your comments that there are Advanced Dynamics, Planetary Dynamics, etc but we are talking about undergraduate students in general taking engineering mechanics. The subjects you mentioned may be absolutely necessary for undergraduate students in Aerospace and graduate students in Mechanical and Aerospace students but how many of the undergraduate students taking Dynamics will ever need those subjects? In addition, the students taking the Dynamics class are sophomore students who just get exposed to engineering science courses. They need simple and straight forward approach to the subject and be able to solve the engineering problems (which may not necessarily be real-world applications of dynamics) so that they may find the subject more appealing to study and have more confidence in pursuing engineering career. Please look at the book by Bedford and Fowler to see how the subject can be approached much simpler even with real-world problems.
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