Book reviews provide students an opportunity to summarize, evaluate, and reflect on published secondary works within the work’s larger historiographical context. In addition to being part of historians’ professional practice, book reviews help students cultivate active reading, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills.
What a review should do:
A book review should describe the scope, purpose, and argument of the book as well as provide an explanation of its significance within its larger historiographical context. The review should evaluate the author’s use of available sources, their organizational structure, and how they present the material. Finally, the review should assess the extent to which the author achieved his or her overall purpose and the broader significance of the work.
· Pay attention to the way the author constructs their argument (interpretation of sources) and frames their argument (organization). Both will provide insight into the originality, effectiveness, and limitations of the work.
· A book review should engage primarily with interpretation and historiography. While factual information is important, it is the author’s selection and interpretation of the facts that makes the book distinctive.
· As much as possible include specific examples (including short quotations) to support your characterization of the book. This also helps prove you read the book.
· Organize the review around what you think is important in the book. Do not allow the author’s organization to determine the organization of your review.
· Do not review the book you think the author should have written. Review the book they wrote.
· Your evaluation of the book may be favorable or unfavorable, but the review should express criticism in respectful terms and provide a balanced account of the book without digressions.
· While an examination of the author’s credentials and background can be helpful for situating a text, ad hominem attacks on the author’s interpretation are inappropriate in a review.
· While you may examine reviews of the book in question by other scholars, your book review should represent your original engagement with the text in question.
· The body of the review should be 12pt Times New Roman or 11pt Calibri, double-spaced, with one-inch margins on all sides.
· The review should use Turabian footnotes for citations, page numbers.
· Your review should be no more than 1000 words
· Your review does not need a title page. Instead include a brief heading on the first page in the following format:
Gregory A. Barton. The Global History of Organic Farming. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018. V, 242 pp. ISBN 978-0-19-964253-3.
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