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GR Textbooks

  1. Oct 19, 2007 #1
    Hello everyone! I'm on my 2nd graduate year and (unfortunately) just started learning GR. My professor suggests Dirac's textbook for a 1st contact and Wald for further details and advanced topics. I find Dirac too laconic and Wald pretty difficult. So...any other suggestions out there? I've heard Carroll's book is also very good. Any opinions? Thanx in advance!
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 19, 2007 #2


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    What about GR do you want to learn? [i.e. any particular focus?]
    and how well do you know Special Relativity?
    What is your mathematical preparation?
  4. Oct 19, 2007 #3
    Caroll's book is nice. Probably you can finish it very quickly then you will be able to read Wald. Did you consider Straumann?
  5. Oct 19, 2007 #4
    Thank you for answering robphy! I'm trying to build a proper background towards string theory, so I guess that I must learn a lot of stuff about GR. I'm quite familiar with special relativity, I had no problem studying QFT, at least. My mathematical preparation concerning GR ends in tensor analysis. No differential geometry at all!

    Edit: Timur, I haven't seen Straumann yet. How advanced is he?
  6. Oct 19, 2007 #5


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    Try B. F. Schutz, “A First Course in General Relativity“, Cambridge University Press (1985).
  7. Oct 19, 2007 #6


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    I would recommend Hartle followed by Carroll and/or d'Inverno. And afterward Wald.
  8. Oct 19, 2007 #7
    Dirac as a first contact? How bizarre. I'd also recommend Schutz as a first book, though I have not seen the well regarded Hartle. I also like Ohanian.
  9. Oct 21, 2007 #8

    George Jones

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    I like the books by Hartle and Carroll.

    For me, Hartle makes the connection between general relativity and the physical universe better than any other book. Tensors are not introduced until page 427, but when introduced, they are presented in “modern” style as multilinear maps.

    Carroll is more advanced and contains the best quantitative introduction to Hawking radiation in print,.

    Hartle and Carroll were both reviewed in the January 2005 issue of Physics Today.
  10. Oct 21, 2007 #9

    Dr Transport

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  11. Oct 21, 2007 #10
    Thank you all for your answers! I think I'll stick with Carroll, since I don't have enough time to start with Schutz or Hartle, and then jump into something more advanced. At first glance, his writing style seems really pedagogic (instead of Dirac...lol).
  12. Mar 12, 2008 #11
    I would recommend Carroll as the absolute best for beginners. Dirac tries to simplify things by using embedding into higher dimensional Euclidean space. Straumann is a bit "mathematical" I guess.
  13. Mar 12, 2008 #12
    Now that I've had Hartle for a few months, I'd definitely change my recommendation for a first GR book from Schutz to Hartle. I think even very sophisticated students could benefit from Hartle.
  14. Mar 13, 2008 #13

    Andy Resnick

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    I'm surprised nobody mentioned Misner, Thorne, and Wheeler. That's the one I used, and I loved it.

    I understnad there's many books out there- just wondering why the elephant in the room (pun intended) is being ignored.
  15. Mar 13, 2008 #14


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    MTW is not the best introductory textbook, while of course it's a must read after you already went through the above courses. And at a higher level there is Wald.
  16. Apr 13, 2008 #15
    I want to recommend two text books that I use to begin study my first class in GR (at undergraduate level)

    First, "General Relativity : An Introduction for Physicist" by M. P. Hobson , G. P. Efstathiou , A. N. Lasenby << this book give an excellent introduction to GR with easily language and less mathematics

    Second, "Gravitation and Cosmology : Principles and application of the general theory of relativity" by Steven Weinberg << this book give you an all cover in GR including math and also provide a modern concept in cosmology which is the application of GR for further study or reseach

    I use both of these books for my GR class and also my first senior project too

    you can found both from amazon :rolleyes:
  17. May 1, 2008 #16
    What are you opinions of the best GR book for building calculational experience?

    I'm taking GR next semester and considering using a combination of Wald, Carroll, Weinberg, Hartle, Schutz and Dirac. Although perhaps this is too many...
  18. May 1, 2008 #17
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2017
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