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Good introductory E&M textbooks?

  1. Feb 21, 2012 #1
    The book I currently use for my class is not great with very few examples, watered-down theory, and is bloated. I've searched the forums and found that Halliday and Serway are well received, but I still don't know. Even though my course is supposed to be calculus-based and all the concepts are presented through calculus, the problem sets only require algebra and they test only on algebra. Based on this circumstance, are Halliday and Serway still good books to supplement my studies in E&M? Any other books you would recommend?
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  3. Feb 22, 2012 #2


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  4. Feb 22, 2012 #3
    I don't think that the book by Schwartz is intended for a first course in EM...
    Electricity and Magnetism by Purcell and Fundamentals of Electricity and Magnetism by Arthur Kip
    are the ones I recommend...
  5. Feb 24, 2012 #4
    David Griffith is highly recommended. It is highly intuitive and extensively used as one of the standard intro level EM texts. I personally never had an intro level EM class, only self-studied Griffith. Now all I do is solving Maxwell's equations
  6. Feb 24, 2012 #5


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    Feynman Vol II
  7. Feb 24, 2012 #6
    I don't think he's taking an intro E&M class. He's talking about Halliday and Serway so I think he's in his second semester of an intro physics class. My personal observation is that textbooks have become horribly watered down and much more difficult to understand with all of the distracting colors and graphics. I still have the 1st edition of Tipler (1976) and the 3rd edition of Halliday and Resnick (1967) on my shelf. They are definitely more rigorous and much easier to read. Go to a good used bookstore and flip through some old books. If you are in an E&M class get Kip's book. I bought the 1969 edition for a dollar or two in the used bookstore and it's some of the clearest reading I've ever seen.
  8. Feb 24, 2012 #7
    You can pick up an old edition of Halliday & Resnick, "Fundamentals of Physics" cheap. The other books mentioned -- Schwartz, Griffith, and Feynman -- are probably too advanced if you haven't had calc III, though it wouldn't hurt to check them out of the library. You should read at least the first few chapters of Feynman vol. II.
  9. Feb 26, 2012 #8
    I've tried reading Griffith, and my lack of a background in vector calculus made it a worthless endeavour.

    I am currently using Halliday and Resnick fundamentals 9th edition and even though I find it much easier to read through than my current textbook (mostly due to the fact that chapters are much more condensed). But it still has all of these pictures that make it very difficult to follow. Are the older editions really better?

    I like rigour, but I don't want to read something as rigorous as Maxwell's treatise on E&M. This is my first rigorous introduction introduction to E&M.
  10. Feb 26, 2012 #9
    I think to learn 'proper' calculus-based E&M you need vector calculus.

    I like older editions better cause like you, I find large colorful (usually irrelevant) pictures distracting. Not too sure about the rigor in first-year physics textbooks, but the older ones usually get straight to the point and don't ramble, though sometimes I find the extra discussion in the relatively newer ones (not the latest) helpful.
  11. Feb 26, 2012 #10
    That's my theory Dragoon. I'd rather gouge my eyes out than teach another calculus course using the latest edition of Thomas or Stewart, explaining to my students that I'm really sorry but the department makes me use this book, but I still have my dad's old 1st edition of Thomas and it's highly readable. I think the publishers think that you need to be entertained because the subject matter is too difficult for you. I think students have a hard time because the publishers have made it difficult. Look at higher level texts. They get to the point without the distractions because the people who read them wouldn't put up with the junk. I have no idea why someone learning something for the first time would put up with it. The best part is that you can get these old editions for virtually nothing on Amazon.
  12. Feb 26, 2012 #11
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