FORMAT FOR BOOK REVIEWS–Guidelines Dr. Denham Book reviews must be not less than five-seven double-spaced pages and cover some aspect of the political, social, or economic, military history of the course. Biographies and other non-fiction books are appropriate. All books must be cleared with the professor. The professor reserves the right to reject any book report that does not fall within the time frame of this course! Books must accompany completed reviews when they are turned in. The student is encouraged to consult with the professor in the selection of the book. A book review is not the same as a book report, which simply summarizes the content of a book. When writing a book review you not only write on the content of the book, but its strengths and weaknesses as well. In writing a review you not only tell whether you liked the book or not but why you liked the book. For example, did you find the book unconvincing because the author did not provide enough information to support his or her thesis or conclusions? Title pages are unnecessary. The top of the first page of the book will list the author, title, publisher, date of publication, and number of pages in the following form: Wright, Gordon, the Ordeal of Total War 1939-1945, New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1968, pp. 267. Book reviews must include all of the following: I. Author’s background: Include something of the author’s background and field of specialty. Is the writer a scholar, historian, newspaperman, journalist? What is his/her training and work experiences etc.?
While sometimes a simple google search can give you what you need, Also, for information of this kind examine the preface, dust jacket, publishers web site can offer hints as to the author’s background. Knowing about the author’s background is essential because all writers bring to their work biases and other experiences that affect their work. II. Content: The review should have a summary, in your own words, of what is contained in the book. This section should approximate not more than two or three pages of your review. Was the book readable? How was the book organized? (chronological or subject?) III. Intent of the Author (Thesis): What was the author trying to prove? Did he succeed in his objective? If not, why? Note the most important evidence the author uses to support his or her thesis or conclusion. You can obtain this from footnotes, charts, tables, etc. Cite examples of the author’s use of this evidence to support his thesis or conclusions. Evaluate the author’s use of this evidence. Are there potential biases in the sources? Are the sources complete? Do they only present one point of view and ignore others? Do not simply say you liked or disliked the book but give examples of why or why not. Quote passages and give page numbers if necessary — you must sustain criticisms. IV. Sources Evaluate the sources the author used to write the book. Does the author use all primary sources — that is, letters, newspapers, contemporary accounts? Or does he use only secondary sources, such as other books or articles related to the subject? From reading the book and then carefully examining the bibliography, do you think he reviewed an adequate amount of material before writing the book? Give examples. V. What you enjoyed most about the book What were the best features of the book?: Maps, pictures, author’s writing style, author’s ability to explain complex ideas or concepts, good appendix, graphs, bibliography. Give examples. Finally, would you recommend the book to fellow student?
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