Many books cover the field of Classical Mechanics. Find below an
annotated bibliography of some of the most popular texts. Some of the
entries below come from annotations given by Herbert Goldstein in his
popular graduate text.
Classical Mechanics Textbooks
History of Mechanics Textbooks
- Kleppner and Kolenkow, An Introduction to Mechanics.
This is a good introductory text written by a well known MIT professor.
In difficulty, it falls between PHY2170 and this course.
- Fowles and Cassidy, Analytical Mechanics.
A good junior level mechanics text, now up to the seventh edition, used in the past for the first semester of the mechanics sequence.
I especially like the chapter on non-inertial reference frames.
- Keith Symon, Mechanics.
This is another junior-level text for mechanics.
It is too old-fashioned since it concentrates on covering everything with the old Newtonian methods before introducing Lagrange.
You may find it to be a readable reference, but we will not be following its exposition at all.
- Jerry Marion and Stephen Thornton, Classical Dynamics of Particles and System.
Used in the past for the second semester of the mechanics sequence.
- Lev Landau and E. Lifshitz. Mechanics.
( From Goldstein) This is the first volume of Landau's famous course in theoretical physics taken by every Russian physicist for the past 50 years.
It is a very elegant, terse, and advanced text.
There are solved example problems, that involve graduate-level work.
It is a masterful work, but is also too advanced to be used as a text.
Those interested in further study of physics, or in search of a challenge would be advised to pick up a copy of it.
Update: The complete text is available for viewing at archive.org.
- Isaac Newton, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica.
Known simply as Principia, this is interesting from an historical perspective, but difficult to read owing to the outdated style of mathematics and presentation.
The text has been digitized and is available for download from archive.org.
- H. C. Corben and Philip Stehle, Classical Mechanics, This is a graduate level text.
- French, Newtonian Mechanics,
- Herbert Goldstein, Classical Mechanics.
This is a traditional graduate-level course that begins with Lagrange's method and then introduces more advanced topics such as Hamilton-Jacobi theory, Action-Angle variables, and canonical perturbation theory.
It is an excellent reference book for anyone who is interested in further study of physics beyond the undergraduate level.
It is too advanced and mathematically oriented to be used as a text for us.
- W. Chester, Mechanics. This
is a sophmore level text from England. It is a solid text book, but it
concentrates on using the elementary method throughout. I recommend it
as a reference for solving complicated problems using elementary
- V. Barger and M. Olsson, Classical Mechanics: A Modern Perspective. This is another junior-level textbook. It is also a good elementary textbook, but does not use Lagrange's method.
- Alexander Fetter and John Walecka, Theoretical Mechanics of Particles and Continuous Media.
A graduate-level text covering fluid mechanics as well as
rigid-body mechanics. It is a good reference for the latter part
of the course where we discuss waves and membranes.
- Edward Routh, Dynamics of a System of Rigid Bodies,
This is the grand daddy of all mechanics textbooks. You will find many
of the classic problems solved here, and you will find a lot of
The language and notation is VERY old-fashioned, so beware. This was the classic textbook back in the days when classical mechanics was all one needed to know to be a
It is quite thorough.
- Edmund Whittaker, A Treatise on the Analytical Dynamics of Particles and Rigid Bodies.
Another textbook from the turn of the century. Very thorough and
complete. Has many sample problems worked out. Once again the
language, terminology, and notation tends to be old fashioned.
- Harold Crabtree, An Elementary Treatment of the theory of Spinning Tops and Gyroscopic Motion. This is the definitive work on tops and gyroscopes.
- Jearl Walker, Roundabout: The Physics of Rotation in the Everyday World. Jearl
Walker wrote the Scientific American's Amateur Scientist column
for about 15 years. He included many articles on strange things
that occur in classical mechanics. These articles are all
- R. Weinstock, The Calculus of Variations. A Physicists approach to the calculus of variations. A very worthwhile book on this subject.
- Wolfgang Yourgrau and Stanley Mandelstam, Variational Principles in Dynamics and Quantum Theory.
Although this book is written by one of the most famous
quantum-field theorists around, its introductory treatments of
applications of the calculus of variations to problems in
classical mechanics are very nice. It provides one with physical
pictures to take with you when you learn about Feynman's path-integrals
in an advanced quantum mechanics course.
- A. Sommerfeld. Mechanics. This is part of his series Lectures on Theoretical Physics. It has a rather complete discussion on tops.
- E. Milne, Vectorial Mechanics.
I think this is a remarkable textbook that introduces a easy to
visualize method of solving problems that involve rigid-body motion.
These techniques will be used by us when we cover rigid-body
Data Analysis and Computer Physics
- Ernst Mach, The Science of Mechanics.
A detailed history of the development and elaboration of the
logical basis of the field of mechanics. At times dry, it is full
of many interesting philosophical questions. Einstein is said to
have formulated his theory of relativity because of the questions
that arose to him after studying this work.
- Rene Dugas, History of Mechanics. This
book covers the history behind the development of mechanics. It
did not influence Einstein like Mach did, but it is another fine
- Thomas Kuhn, Copernican Revolution.
Other Related Books
- Bevington, Philip R. Data Reduction and Error Analysis for the Physical Sciences, McGraw-Hill, 1969.
- Arya, Atma P., Introduction to Classical Mechanics, 2d ed., Prentice Hall, 1998.
- Pratap, Rudra, Getting Started with Matlab 5: A Quick Introduction for Scientists and Engineers, Oxford University Press, 1999.
- Press, William H., Brian P. Flannery, Saul A. Teukolsky, and William T. Vetterling, Numerical Recipes: The Art of Scientific Computing, Cambridge University Press, 1986.
- Redfern, Darren, The Maple Handbook Maple V, Release 4, Springer-Verlag, 1996.
- Schey, H. M., Div, Grad, Curl, and All That, 3d ed., W.W. Norton & Company, 1997.
- Schmid, Erich W., Gerhard Spitz, and Wolfgang Lsch, Theoretical Physics on the Personal Computer, Springer-Verlag, 1998.
- Thompson, William J., Computing in Applied Science, John Wiley, 1984.
- Ellis, Jr., Wade, Eugene Johnson, Ed Lodi, and Daniel Schwalbe, Maple V Flight Manual, Release 4, Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, 1997.
- Enns, Richard H. and George McGuire, Nonlinear Physics with Maple for Scientists and Engineers, Birkhuser, 1997.
- Gander, W., and Hrebicek, J. (1997), Solving Problems in Scientific Computing Using Maple and MATLAB, 3d ed., Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
- Garcia, A.L., Numerical Methods for Physics, 2d ed., Prentice-Hall, 1999.
- Garcia, A. L., and C. Penland, Matlab Projects for Scientists and Engineers,
2d ed., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall,
1996. (This workbook has been used as a supplement to
Physics for Scientists and Engineers, 2d ed. by Fishbane,
Gasiorowicz, and Thornton. The book may be out of print.)
- Misner, Charles W., and Patrick J. Cooney, Spreadsheet Physics, Addison-Wesley, 1991.
- Nakamura, Shoichiro, Numerical Analysis and Graphic Visualization with MATLAB, Prentice Hall PTR, 1996.
- Baierlein, Ralph, Newtonian Dynamics, McGraw-Hill, 1983.
- Barger, Vernon D. and Olsson, Martin G., Classical Mechanics: A Modern Perspective, 2d ed., McGraw-Hill, 1995.
- Boas, Mary L., Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences, 2d ed., Wiley, 1983.
- Carroll, Bradley W. and Ostlie, Dale A., An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics, Addison-Wesley, 1996.
Potter, Frank, Charles W. Peck, and David S. Barkley, Editor,
Dynamic Models in Physics, Vol. I: Mechanics, N. Simonson &