5.0 out of 5 stars
The best, but challenging for not-mathematicians, Oct. 21 2001
Arnold shines for clarity, completeness and rigour. But, at the same time, he requires a remarkable intellectual effort on the part of the reader (at least a physicist or an engineer). Some readers might see this as a book of math rather than physics, but that would not be fair: Arnold always stresses the geometrical meaning and the physical intuition of what he states or demonstrates. You can take full advantage from the effort of reading this book only if you master a wide range of mathematical topics: essentially differential geometry, ODEs and PDEs and some topology. That's not always true for engineer or physics students at the beginning graduate level. For that kind of readers, Goldstein is a much better fit. Arnold can (and maybe should) be read afterwards.
On the other hand, the exercises, although not very numberous, are very well conceived and help a lot to deepen the comprehension of the text. Also, the order of the topics is linear and very effective from a didactic point of view. The exposition is clear, concise and always goes straight to the point. Thanks to these features, it is one of the most effective books for self-teaching I ever happened to read.
From a physical point of view, the domain of applications is essentially limited to discrete systems. Furthermore, the electromagnetism and relativity are not even cited, although they can be viewed as the logical completion of classical mechanics (see, for example, Goldstein). But the extreme generality of the approach largely balance the more restricted physical domain. In my opinion, the best book you can read on the topics.