BOOK REVIEW REQUIREMENTS
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As with almost all of your other work, your book review should contain a thesis, which you prove by providing SPECIFIC evidence and analyzing that evidence.
Length: 800-900 words
As with all of your work:
Title: the title should be the bibliographic entry for the book plus the number of pages, whether there are appendices, images, and/or bibliography.
INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPH (about 150 words)
The THESIS must answer the question of why this book is or is not a useful tool for a historian. For example, the thesis might look something like this:
PARAGRAPH #2 REPORT OF CONTENT (150-200 words)
Summarize the content (and, if appropriate, the organization) of the book. This is the "report" part of the review.
PARAGRAPHS #3 & 4 ANALYSIS OF BOOK (200-250 words each)
The next two paragraphs (about 150 words each) should analyze specific examples from the book to prove the THESIS of YOUR REVIEW (NOT of the book!!).
Questions to consider when analyzing a book include (but are not limited to): Does the author prove her/his thesis? Does the author use and cite specific examples? Is the author's analysis logical and persuasive? Is the author's writing clear and comprehensible?
PARAGRAPH #5 CONCLUSION (about 150 words)
Do you recommend this book to other historians? If so, why; if not, why not?
Check with the professor to see how important these paragraph requirements are for your particular course.
NOTE: When making reference to the text you must include page numbers even when you are not quoting. Page numbers may be placed in parentheses. Title, etc. are not required; simply place the number of the page or pages in parentheses, eg., (26).
PURPOSE OF THIS ASSIGNMENT
The most consistent error of students in writing book reviews is that
they write book reports. While to some degree you must report what the
book says in order for YOUR ARGUMENT to make sense, your assignment is
to think critically about why the book is or is not successful. The purpose
of this assignment is not only to get you started on your research (though
that is certainly one goal I have); it is to have you thinking critically
about successful historical arguments. This will serve you in your activities
as a historian. First, it will help you hone the skills necessary for
evaluating the validity of someone else's argument. For example, if they
don't cite any primary evidence, then can you trust their claims? Second,
it will help you to think about how you want to construct your own argument
when you write your essay or research paper. For example, if the book
was full of information but poorly organized then how will you intend
to write your own essay or research paper in a more organized manner?