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Book Review of: Core Engineering Concepts for Students and Professionals

A Comprehensive Reference Covering Thousands of Engineering Topics

Price: $200

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Review of Core Engineering Concepts for Students and Professionals, by Michael R. Lindburg, P.E. (Hardcover, 2010)

(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you want a hardcopy)

Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.

Pick any superlative. Pick several. Now, multiply them together and you won't even begin to describe how good this book is. Having written several blistering reviews lately, I was in the mood for a high quality book. This work by Michael Lindenburg did not disappoint.

The first thing that struck me was its sheer size (1440 pages at 8.5 x 11) and weight (about 6.5 lbs--I weighed it). Granted, there are many code book sets that weigh far more, but this is still heavy for a single book.

The next thing that struck me is the excellent use of navigation aids. Having been an engineer myself (with many awards from the IEEE, including Outstanding Member) and having been recognized as an expert in the National Electrical Code, I am quite familiar with how difficult it can be to find things in an engineering reference book. This work has several nice touches to alleviate that problem. These include faux tabs, a faux tab "print" at the front, quick reference guides, logical organization, and an index slightly over 60 pages long. I also like the fact that reference tables and similar items are place in appendices so they don't clutter up the main text. There are, in fact, 159 pages of Appendices.

The book consists of eighteen "Topics," which are similar to "Parts" in some works. Each Topic is an assembly of chapters relevant to that topic. Topics include such things as Mathematics (naturally), Fluids, Thermodynamics, Material Science, Circuits, and Physics. And, yes, it does get intense at times. The math includes all of the heavy duty, mind-twisting stuff we engineers have come to know and love.

This book contains 82 chapters. At the start of each chapter is a short TOC, followed by (if applicable) a listing of the nomenclature, symbols, and subscripts used. The contents in each chapter are amazing in their depth and clarity of presentation.

The book is not a tutorial, but a resource for reference and review. The explanations, therefore, are short and to the point. I personally don't want to wade through a 16-page explanation of something I can almost remember. The purpose of a reference work is to fill in those forgotten facts. This book does so nicely. If you don't have an engineering background, then of course it's not going to make up for that. Nothing can; you have to crunch the numbers to learn the concepts.

You may notice the price. This is less than what many of us pay for professional membership dues each year, and it's certainly less than the cost of a "small" engineering mistake.

Earlier, I said I'd done several blistering reviews. The basic problem was the authors were too lazy to do their research and get their facts straight. That is not at all the case with this work. Lindenburg says he put 30 years into creating this, and I believe him because it shows. No, I did not check every formula. Yes, I did spot check a few and they were correct. It's possible you will find an error in this book. If you don't know how to calculate the probability of that, turn to 13-4 to see how to do that.

But you don't need to run any calculations to determine whether this book is worth every penny. If you're an engineer, it's one of the best investments you can make.


About these reviews

You may be wondering why the reviews here are any different from the hundreds of "reviews" posted online. Notice the quotation marks?

I've been reviewing books for sites like Amazon for many years now, and it dismays me that Amazon found it necessary to post a minimum word count for reviews. It further dismays me that it's only 20 words. If that's all you have to say about a book, why bother?

And why waste everyone else's time with such drivel? As a reader of such reviews, I feel like I am being told that I do not matter. The flippancy of people who write these terse "reviews" is insulting to the authors also, I would suspect.

This sound bite blathering taking the place of any actual communication is increasingly a problem in our mindless, blog-posting Webosphere. Sadly, Google rewards such pointlessness as "content" so we just get more if this inanity.

My reviews, contrary to current (non) standards, actually tell you about the book. I always got an "A" on a book review I did as a kid (that's how I remember it anyhow, and it's my story so I'm sticking to it). A book review contains certain elements and has a logical structure. It informs the reader about the book.

A book review may also tell the reader whether the reviewer liked it, but revealing a reviewer's personal taste is not necessary for an informative book review.

About your reviewer

  • Books are a passion of mine. I read dozens of them each year, plus I listen to audio books.
  • Most of my "reading diet" consists of nonfiction. I think life is too short to use your limited reading time on material that has little or no substance. That leads into my next point...
  • In 1990, I stopped watching television. I have not missed it. At all.
  • I was first published as a preteen. I wrote an essay, and my teacher submitted it to the local paper.
  • For six years, I worked as an editor for a trade publication. I left that job in 2002, and still do freelance editing and authoring for that publication (and for other publications).
  • No book has emerged from my mind onto the best-seller list. So maybe I'm presumptuous in judging the work of others. Then again, I do more describing than judging in my reviews. And I have so many articles now published that I stopped counting them at 6,000. When did I stop? Probably 20,000 articles ago! (It's been a while).
  • I have an engineering degree and an MBA, among other "quant" degrees. That helps explain my methodical approach toward reviews.
  • You probably don't know anybody who has made a perfect or near perfect score on a test of Standard Written English. I have. So, a credential for whatever it's worth.

About reading style

No, I do not "speed read" through these. That said, I do read at a fast rate. But, in contrast to speed reading, I read everything when I read a book for review.

Speed reading is a specialized type of reading that requires skipping text as you go. Using this technique, I've been able to consistently "max out" a speed reading machine at 2080 words per minute with 80% comprehension. This method is great if you are out to show how fast you can read. But I didn't use it in graduate school and I don't use it now. I think it takes the joy out of reading, and that pleasure is a big part of why I read.

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