This review is written from the perspective of both novice and professional. I bought this book in April 2005 when my knowledge on thermodynamics was sketchy but my fasination on this machine was quite immense. As the book's title implies, this little piece of work is an introduction. Hence, please do not expect in-depth details or sophisticated technical treatments as these can be found in other texts on Stirling engines. However, for those who want to build a solid foundation in thermodynamics and the theory of heat engines in general including the mechanics of Stirling engines, this monograph is a great introduction.
I was impressed by way Dr. Senft struck a balance between essential thermodynamic theory and its relevence to the fundamental design of Stirling machine. For example, a brief introduction and some technical treatments of Carnot Theory is introduced as early as possible in the book as this is essential for a proper exposition of heat engines, especially those operate with Stirling cycle. Without this, non-technical readers can only grasp a mere mechanical movements and their description rather than a clear understanding of the basic theory that underpins Stirling machine.
Another point that worths mentioning is its comprehensiveness at an introductory level. How Stirling engines are classified according to their basic physical configurations and pros and cons of these configulations, an exemplified illustration, and the history of their development are organized in a cogent and highly readable manner.
I personally have to admit that this little monograph is a great help to develop my solid understanding on both Stirling machine and heat engines in general. It is a great primer and fun to read!
Doy Sundarasaradula, PhD
May 9, 2009