iGEM Book Review


Foundation Analysis and Design, 5th Ed.

by Joseph E. Bowles

McGraw-Hill 1996


One of the first things Bowles' Foundation Engineering brings to mind is Volume. It is one its major characteristics. This book is known to be the most comprehensive text there is on the subject. Since this isindeed one of its percieved strengths, it makes sense to maintain it. The new (5th) Edition is a whopping 1175 pages, 11% more than the fourth edition (McGraw-Hill, 1988). At first sight it seems McGraw-Hill actually managed to make the book look smaller--Perhaps it is the darker color. But it is heavy.

What's New

  1. Units
    In the new edition, the old unit system based on body parts is now dropped; now it is SI only. No more double units, conversions, etc. Good riddance. Thumbs up!
  2. Computer programs
    The program listings at the end of the book are now replaced by a diskette. The disk contains 16 programs, compiled (FORTRAN) for PC compatibles. I haven't tested the programs yet as of this writing, but the descriptions included indicate that the style of programming is what might be called "the old, mainframe style"--an input file is prepared, the program is executed in DOS, and an output file is obtained--as opposed to the modern, graphical user interface.
  3. Examples
    Example problems now use the computer programs, whenever available, in the disk.Some of the exercise problems also refer to these programs.
  4. Corrections
    Many equations and figures were corrected, according to the author. The quality of most figures, however, appear to have degraded considerably.
  5. New Topics
    Now the design method for footings undergoing overturning include the one by Meyerhof. The Soil Improvement chapter has been enlarged significantly, with the inclusion of a few new techniques. Other than these, the coverage of the book remains essentially the same as the previous edition.
  6. Discarded Topics
    One topic that has been thrown out in this edition is the classical method of designing a sheet pile wall--the free earth support, fixed earth support, and Rowe's moment reduction methods are all out. The only method presented is "FEM"--You will recall that Bowles calls the numerical version of the classical beam-on-elastic-foundation method "FEM" -- It is not the comprehensive 2D/3D FEM, here the entire body of soil is replaced by a stack of springs.
  7. Lateral Earth Pressures
    The chapter on lateral earth pressures has been expanded. Most people, however, will not agree with the author's opposition to the generally accepted practice of applying a factor of two on lateral stresses based on the elastic half space.

WWW Site

Bowles is also on the Web now! The web site appears to have been designed mainly for giving information about the author's other programs, ordering them, and downloading updates. Bowles promises to post information about corrections there. You can also get a price list for author's programs that are not included in the book as well as FORTRAN source codes, if you need to "customize" the programs. Bowles' Web Site is not active any longer. For more info, see McGraw-Hill website


The computer disk and the WWW site are welcome improvements. The text upgrade represents a considerable, though incremental, improvement. If you are considering the computer programs--beware that only some of the author's computer programs are actually included in the accompanying disk. You should get Bowles' Foundation Engineering 5th edition if you use the earlier version as your main reference. And if you don't have any version of Bowles, get this one!

© Copyright Mete Oner, 1997