Here they are, the book review guidelines. First of all, all
book reviews must be on Peter
Stearns, Fat History: Bodies and
Beauty in the Modern West (New York: New York University Press,
Second, all book reviews Must
be 4-5, double-spaced pages
in length, written in Times New Roman
font with a 12-pt. pitch (do not exceed this
length as you will be penalized for so doing). Your book review should
begin with an introductory section in which you introduce the book
you're reviewing providing full bibliographic information; the
bibliographic information can be most easily conveyed in a heading
preceding the first paragraph of the review. The introductory
paragraph should also convey the main point or contribution of the book
that you are reviewing. An analytical summary of the book at the level
of secondary (i.e. addressing the issues Stearns deals with and
how their contributions relate to ongoing discussions in history) and
where possible primary sources (i.e. showing how they use primary
sources to prove their points, focusing on the most important points of
course) should follow the introduction. These two sections should
comprise no more than 70% of the total length of the book review.
Finally, the book review should end with a critical analysis of the
strengths and weaknesses of the book and a brief conclusion that sums
up the key elements of your evaluation of the book you are reviewing.
Any direct quotes taken from the book should be properly
footnoted as should major passages that you are analyzing and the book
review ought to be typed, double-spaced, and in 12-pt., Courier or
Times Roman font. Good luck!
Book Review Primer
The critical review, i.e. a review of a book or article that evaluates its strengths, weaknesses, and potential uses, is a staple of historical work. It is not hard to review a piece of academic work effectively, but it requires some understanding of what must be done. Here are the sections that are in a proper review with hints as to how to execute them.
Heading: This should include your name, the course
number, the instructor’s name, and the date due, single-spaced at the
top of the first page. The body of the review should be
double-spaced. Then give the publication information on the book
you are reviewing, arranged and punctuated like this example [note the
inclusion of the number of pages]:
Robert S. Gottfried. The Black Death: Natural and Human Disaster in Medieval Europe. New York: Free Press, 1983. xvii, 203 pp.
Introduction/Thesis Description: This is the main piece of information that the introduction of any good review needs to convey, viz. the main point that the work under examination is trying to make. You need not explain how the point is being made as that's a matter for the analytical summary. Rather you're trying to give your reader the punchline of the work that you're trying to explain to him/her. So, you want to write a brief synopsis of the thesis that should be no more than a short paragraph. The best introductory paragraphs will also identify the work being reviewed and indicate in some way the possible broader significance of the thesis (an author will almost always give you clues as to what this is so you needn't make it up).
Analytical Summary: This is probably one of the most difficult skills to master in reviewing another person's work. The idea is to show the reader how the argument in a piece of historical writing works. This means you have to do more than just summarize. You have identify the major points the piece you are evaluating is making and then show how the author tries to make those points. In the case of the book you are reviewing for me, Comparison and History, you need to compare and contrast the different perspectives expressed by the various authors, each of whom has a particular perspective on the subject of comparative history; while more challenging than reviewing a book by a single author, this book review will prepare you for the historiographic essay that you are to write. Also you must do this without expressing your judgment (that comes during the critique portion of the review). Your analytical summary should be no more than a few pages in length and certainly no more than three.
Critique: This section, as with the thesis description, is shorter than the analytical summary. In the critque you are basically deciding whether or not the author achieved the goals that you examined in the analytical summary. You SHOULD NOT comment on style, general readability, whether you "liked" the book or article, or whether it suited your moral or other personal views. Those are not standards applied to the evaluation of scholarship. Rather you should decided 1) if the argument(s) flowed logically from step to step 2) whether the author(s) supported the argument(s) with enough evidence and 3) whether the author(s) drew conclusions that were related to the argument(s) and supported by his/her/their sources, whether primary or secondary. Your critical analysis should be no more than one page length and should contain specific examples from the text you are evaluating to illustrate the critical points you are making.
Conclusion: Here you just want to sum up your findings with regard to book you reviewed. The paragraph should be brief.