When asked to start teachmg a course on engineering fracture mechanics, I realized that a concise textbook, giving a general oversight of the field, did t exist. The explanation is undoubtedly that the subject is still in a stage of early development, and that the methodologies have still a very limIted applicability. It is t possible to give rules for general application of fracture mechanics concepts. Yet our comprehension of cracking and fracture beha viour of materials and structures is steadily increasing. Further developments may be expected in the t too distant future, enabling useful prediction of fracture safety and fracture characteristics on the basis of advanced fracture mechanics procedures. The user of such advanced procedures ml:lst have a general understanding of the elementary concepts, which are provided by this volume. Emphasis was placed on the practical application of fracture mechanics, but it was aimed to treat the subject in a way that may interest both metallurgists and engineers. For the latter, some general kwledge of fracture mechanisms and fracture criteria is indispensable for an apprecia- tion of the limita tions of fracture mechanics. Therefore a general discussion is provIded on fracture mechanisms, fracture criteria, and other metal- lurgical aspects, wIthout going into much detail. Numerous references are provided to enable a more detailed study of these subjects which are still in a stage of speculative treatment.