The story of the phenomenal transformation of general relativity within little more than a decade, from a quiet backwater of research, harboring a handful of theorists, to a booming outpost attracting increasing numbers of highly talented young people as well as heavy investment in experiments, is by now familiar. The amazing thing about this revolution is that the physics is entirely classical. But it is classical physics with a new twist. The student who embraces it must learn to chart unfamiliar conceptual waters, where even the firmament of classical fixed stars (energy conservation, causality, thermal equilibrium and entropy) has become strangely distorted. That this revolution is yet far from having run its course is clear from its classical nature. The quantum revolution is yet to come.
No single object or concept epitomizes more completely the present stage of the revolution than the Black Hole. This volume, based on the lectures given at the 23rd session of the Summer School of Les Houches, contains nearly everything that is currently (1972) known about black holes, and much that will remain permanently useful to workers in the fjeld. The contents, which are deliberately pedagogical, begin with Hawking's masterful presentation of the fundamentals: the definition of a black hole, event horizons, trapped surfaces, singularity theorems, the area theorem, final state theorems. This is followed by Carter's beautiful elaboration, with proofs, of the properties of Kerr-Newman and other axisymmetric black holes: separability theorems, uniqueness theorems, variational principles. Next comes a very detailed study by Bardeen of the properties of timelike and null geodesics in the Kerr metric, of rapidly rotating stars, and of extreme relativistic disks, illustrated by explicit computer results.