Book Report Guidelines for History 101 and 102
Secondary Source Instructions: If you are doing your report on a secondary source, an author who is writing about the time, place, and people, at any time after the fact, then you will want to follow these guidelines.
o Identify the author, who are they?
o Explain the time, people, person, or event they are writing about.
o Identify the author’s thesis statement (are they making an argument or taking a specific position that you can identify?).
o Do you agree with their assessment? Why or why not?
Primary Source Instructions: If you are doing an analysis of a primary source document, which is a piece of writing (even a translated reproduction) that was written during a past historical era by an author living during that time, you will want to follow these guidelines.
First paragraph should be a simple introduction that explains who, what, where, and when.
o Who (Who wrote the text and what does the text tell us about him or her personally? Does the author’s personality come through in the text? If it is anonymous, or the author is unknown, ask yourself if that is deliberate and why.)
o What (Was the text written for a specific purpose? Why? Identify the genre or type of text; legal, religious, letter, poem, story, etc.)
o Where (Where was it written?)
o When (Years are great, but if you don’t know then venture a guess, or simply give an era like New Kingdom Egypt, Ancient Greece, Revolutionary France etc.)
– Second, write a short summary of what the text is generally about. (Be concise, you don’t have to recap it completely). This should not exceed more than a double-spaced page length.
– The remainder of the paper should analyze what the text tells us about the culture it is from. What details about the cultures customs and worldview can be picked out of the text? What impression of the people and the culture does the text give you?
o You will need to quote from the text and cite the page number. You found that on.
o Try to keep your own opinions out of the précis. Write in third person; no first or second person such as “I”, “me”, “you”, “we”, or “us”.
o Include a works cited page, I have supplied most of the needed info on the source.
Finally, PROOFREAD, which means more than just running a spell-check program. I advise you to read it aloud to yourself. It may sound odd but you will eliminate so much awkwardness that way.