GUIDELINES FOR THE BOOK REVIEW
- MATERIALS: Book must be a non-fictional work that deals with some topic covering the presented historical time period. One book is required; biographies, books concerning historical movements & events—cultural, political or social—and specific countries or civilization are all acceptable. It is suggested that the student pick a book in a particular area of personal interest.
- FORMS: Each book review should be from 4 to 6 neatly typewritten pages (double-spaced), written in clear & accurate English. Be sure to proof-read your paper before turning it in. Spelling, punctuation, and even typographical errors are YOUR responsibility. Bibliographical information should be included in proper form at the beginning of the first page of the review. Example: The United States & Japan, by Edwin O. Reischauer, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1950, 357 pp. (This may be single-spaced.)
- CONTENT: Ordinarily the book review should be divided into three interwoven sections.
SECTION 1: The Author. This section should include:
- Background information on the author, to the extent that such information is available.
- The qualifications of the author for writing this book (i.e., is he a scholar, a journalist, a politician, etc.)
- A statement of the author’s frame of reference (his assumptions & values) & his bias, if any.
SECTION 2: Contents of the book.
This section should be rather brief, but should contain some indication of the plan of the book & a review of its contents. Do not simply summarize, but rather describe the main theme, pointing out, if desired, sections of particular interest. Comments on the author’s literary style may also be included here.
SECTION 3: Critical analysis.
This section should comprise at least one-half of the entire review. Some of the points that might be included in this section are answers to the following questions:
- What source did the author use?
- Do you feel he urged these sources properly?
- Is the author critical or sympathetic of his subject?
- What are the major strengths & limitations of the book?
- Is the book relevant to this or other courses?
- Would you recommend this book? To whom?
- Is the book likely to have lasting value or is its use apt to be only temporary & limited?
(Your review need not include all of the points listed here, nor need it be confined to those points. They are intended as a guide, upon which you may expand in writing an original review.)