5R4. Handbook of Continuum Mechanics: General Concepts, Thermoelasticity. - J Salencon (Lab de Mec des Solides, Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau Cedex, 91128, France). Springer-Verlag, Berlin. 2001. 803 pp. ISBN 3-540-41443-6. $159.00.

Reviewed by S Bechtel (Dept of Mech Eng, Ohio State Univ, 206 W 18th Ave, Columbus OH 43210-1154).

This book, translated by Stephen Lyle from a 2000 French edition, is part of a series of English translations of textbooks developed by the E`cole Polytechnique for its students. It is a handbook in the sense of an encyclopedia, providing a complete and detailed reference source for the concepts behind continuum mechanics and its specializations to thermoelasticity and one-dimensional media.

The physical quality, including typesetting and figures, is outstanding. The book’s 803 pages are divided into 12 chapters, three appendices, a bibliography, and an index. Each chapter begins with a front page with a title and on the order of ten keywords, a one-page abstract, a table of the important new notation introduced in the chapter, and an outline of the sections and subsections that comprise the chapter, and ends with a summary of the main formulas, and set of exercises, with hints toward their solution. This considerable level of structure and organization of the presentation, together with the many references to related concepts and developments that occur elsewhere in the book both before and after, is intended by the author to simplify the reader’s task as much as possible, and also assists in its use as a reference. The presentation is thoughtful: Generally, there is first a conceptual discussion, with appeal to experimental results, before the mathematical discussion, and there is a sensitivity to the multiple scales in physical problems.

The first six chapters present the general theory of continuum mechanics, with the construction of mechanical models and the modeling of forces based on the principle of virtual work. The only constitutive behavior addressed in the book is elasticity, in Chapters 7 through 10. Chapter 11 presents the general static theory of one-dimensional continuum models, which is specialized to thermoelastic structures in Chapter 12.

The book is accompanied by a 60-page pamphlet which summarizes the main points in the 12 chapters, and a fold-out one page glossary which translates words and phrases ranging from acceleration to zero line into French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.

This reviewer found in the book familiar concepts presented in unfamiliar settings. The mathematical notation and the appendices devoted to tensor calculus and differential operators are different from what one has come to expect in introductory texts in continuum mechanics and may be beyond many upper-level undergraduate students and lower-level graduate students. This reviewer would be hesitant to employ the book as a text in a first course in continuum mechanics. It is most appropriate as either a text in an upper-level continuum mechanics course or independent study after a first course (if a second course is not available), or as a complete and likely different reference source for someone who has taken the full sequence. The Handbook of Continuum Mechanics certainly has value to this reviewer, a teacher of first and second courses in continuum mechanics and thermomechanics, who found in it a fresh take on the conceptual underpinnings of these subjects.