|Country||United States of America|
|Publisher||The University of Chicago Press|
|LC Class||QC173.6 .W35 1984|
Published by the University of Chicago in 1984, the book, a tome of almost 500 pages, covers many aspects of the general theory of relativity. It is divided into two parts. Part I covers the fundamentals of the subject and Part II the more advanced topics such as causal structure, and quantum effects. It is aimed at beginning graduate students. The book uses the abstract index notation for tensors. It treats spinors, the variational-principle formulation, the initial-value formulation, (exact) gravitational waves, singularities, Penrose diagrams, Hawking radiation, and black-hole thermodynamics.
According to Daniel Finley, a professor at the University of New Mexico, this textbook offers good physics intuition. However, the author did not use the most modern mathematical methods available, and his treatment of cosmology is now outdated. Finley believes that the abstract index notation is difficult to learn, though convenient for those who have mastered it.
Theoretical physicist James W. York wrote that General Relativity is a sophisticated yet concise book on the subject that should be appealing to the mathematically inclined, as a high level of rigor is maintained throughout the book. However, he believed the material on linearized gravity is too short, and recommended Gravitation by Charles Misner, Kip Thorne, and John Archibald Wheeler, and Gravitation and Cosmology by Steven Weinberg as supplements.
Hans C. Ohanian, who teaches and researches gravitation at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, opined that General Relativity provides a modern introduction to the subject with emphasis on tensor and topological methods and offers some "sharp insights." However, its quality is very variable. Topics such as geodetic motion in the Schwarzschild metric, the Krushkal extension, and energy extraction from black holes, are handled well while empirical tests of Einstein's theory are barely scratched and the treatment of advanced topics, including cosmology, is just too brief to be useful to students. Due to its heavy use of higher mathematics, it may not be suitable for an introductory course.
Lee Smolin argued that General Relativity bridges the gap between the presentation of the material in older textbooks and the literature. For example, while the early pioneers of the subject, including Einstein himself, employed coordinate-based methods, researchers since the mid-1960s have switched for coordinate-free formulations, of which Wald's text is entirely based. Its style is uniformly clear and economic, if too brief at times. Topics that deserve more attention include gravitational radiation and cosmology. However, this book can be supplemented by those by Misner, Thorne, and Wheeler, and by Weinberg. Smolin was teaching a course on general relativity to undergraduates as well as graduate students at Yale University using this book and felt satisfied with the results. He also found it useful as a reference to refresh his memory.