For many years, John Hempel's book has been a standard text on the topology of 3-manifolds. Even though the field has grown tremendously, the book remains one of the best and most popular introductions to the subject. The theme of this book is the role of the fundamental group in determining the topology of a given 3-manifold. The essential ideas and techniques are covered in the first part of the book: Heegaard splittings, connected sums, the loop and sphere theorems, incompressible surfaces, free groups, and so on.Along the way, many useful and insightful results are proved, usually in full detail. Later chapters address more advanced topics, including Waldhausen's theorem on a class of 3-manifolds that is completely determined by its fundamental group. The book concludes with a list of problems that were unsolved at the time of publication. Hempel's book remains an ideal text to learn about the world of 3-manifolds. The prerequisites are few and are typical of a beginning graduate student. Excercises occur throughout the text. Other key books on low-dimensional topology available from the AMS are ""Knots and Links"", ""Lectures on Three-Manifold Topology"", and ""The Knot Book"".
Preliminaries Heegaard splittings Connected sums The loop and sphere theorems Free groups Incompressible surfaces Kneser's conjecture on free products Finitely generated subgroups More on connected sums; Finite and abelian subgroups I-bundles Group extensions and fibrations Seifert fibered spaces Classification of $P^2$-irreducible, sufficiently large 3-manifolds Some approaches to the Poincare conjecture Open problems References Index Symbols and notation.