Which are a series of initials pronounced as a word, provided you spell out the acronym the first time you use it and place the acronym in parenthesis next to the spelled out form, as in the following example, &quot

The book critique is on Martin Gilbert’s The hallocaust

History Schilz Online Critique


The book you select for your critique must be non-fiction, historical in nature, and must be appropriate for the time-span and subject area of the course for which you are enrolled. Books must also be 200 or more pages in length, excluding bibliography, notes, and index unless your instructor approves a shorter work. The title, author, publisher, and the number of pages of the book you select must be presented by the e-mail system within this class to your instructor no later than the deadline for submission of your book selection information as stated on your syllabus for this class. Submissions which do not contain the aforementioned four pieces of information may be returned unapproved. Approval of books is at your instructor’s discretion. Choose wisely–once you have received approval, you may not change books. This means you should have your book and the information on its author (see below for details) in hand before you ask for approval. Choose early–you will not receive approval on any book that has already been approved for another student. Failure to get your instructor’s approval of your book will result in an automatic F (zero points) grade for this assignment. Do not use the submissions page for this assignment to submit your book information for approval. That is reserved for the submission of your book critique only. Submission of your book choice made by any means other than the in-class e-mail system (i.e., my office e-mail, regular mail, etc.) will not be accepted.

At the top of the first page of your review, you should place a bibliographic citation for your book, giving the author’s name, book title, place of publication (city only), publisher, and a physical description of the book. That citation should follow the form below exactly:

Thomas F. Schilz, The Lipan Apaches. El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1987. 140 pp., bibliography, index, maps.

[In the book’s physical description (which is the third sentence in the example above) you would also want to note a bibliography, maps, illustrations, photos, phonodisks, videocassettes, graphs, charts, or other unusual physical characteristics of the book, if applicable. All book titles, titles of magazines, and titles of newspapers are underlined no matter where they appear in your critique (and it will cost you a letter grade per offense if they are not)].

Failure to provide a bibliographic citation for your paper will result in an automatic F (zero points) grade for this assignment.

After the bibliographic citation, double-space and begin your critique. A book critique is an essay which contains a BRIEF summary of the work plus:

1) an analysis of the book’s thesis;

2) a look at the supporting arguments for that thesis; and

3) an evaluation of the author’s style and effectiveness in the presentation of the subject matter

A superior ("A" quality, of course) book critique must begin with a brief paragraph discussing the author’s background (education, career, other publications). Call the author (and every other person you mention in your critique) by her/his full name the first time you mention her/him and thereafter by his/her last name only–he’s Delbruck, not Hans or Professor, for example (Failure to follow this rule will cost you a letter grade per offense; and so proofread carefully). Information on your author can usually be found on the book’s dust jacket or in Contemporary Authors or in other similar reference works available in many libraries. Find your author information before you present a book to your instructor for approval. If you can not find anything on your author, select another book. Failure to provide proper author information will result in an automatic F (zero points) grade for this assignment.

Next, state the author’s thesis and spend some time discussing two or three major points that the author uses to explain or defend this thesis. Generally, you should spend a paragraph on each point and explain it thoroughly.

Finally, react to the book and its author. How well is the book written? What kinds of sources (primary and secondary) does the author use and how frequently does he/she refer to these sources? A look at the book’s footnotes will be helpful in determining this. How well does the author defend the book’s thesis? Does the author like or dislike his/her subject matter? Is the account given a complete one? Rate the author’s style, grammar, use of language, and "readability." Cite examples from the book to back up your ideas.

Your critique should be 750-1,000 words in length, typed, double-spaced, with page numbers in the upper right-hand corner of each page except the first. Use one inch margins but do not justify your right margin–it makes for awkward spacing of words within your paper. Your name, alone, goes at the end of the critique, flush with the left-hand margin of your writing (and it will cost you a letter grade per offense should it be found anywhere else in your paper). Times New Roman twelve point is a sufficiently large type.

Be creative in your critique, but remember this is formal writing, and so note all of the following rules–breaking any one of these is going to cost you a minimum of a letter grade per incident on this assignment:

1) DO NOT use first person (I, me, my, us, we, our, for example) or second person (you, your, for example).

2) DO NOT use contractions (can’t, would’ve, it’s, for example) or abbreviations (Mr., Dr., Ph.D., M.A., &, @, Co., Inc., U.S., Ltd., etc., for example). You MAY use acronyms, which are a series of initials pronounced as a word, provided you spell out the acronym the first time you use it and place the acronym in parenthesis next to the spelled out form, as in the following example, "the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) says…" After this first use, you may use the acronym alone, as in the following example, "and so NASA kept its focus on…" The rule is, if it is pronounced as a word, it is an acronym, if not, it is an abbreviation. For example, Ph.D. is not pronounced "fid," and U.S.A. is not pronounced "ussa."–they are, therefore, abbreviations. You MAY also use the following common abbreviations without penalty: Washington, D. C., A.D., B.C., C.E., B.C.E., a.m. and p.m.

3) DO NOT use slang.

4) In selecting your book DO NOT choose anthologies, on-line computer services, novels or other works of fiction, textbooks, gee-whiz religious books (like Jesus Lives Next Door & Drives an Old Mercedes), potboilers (like the Bulging Biceps of Babylon books), autobiographies, political diatribes (like Sarah Palin is the World’s Biggest Idiot even if her husband DID write it), or books intended for a juvenile audience (such as My Little Golden Book of the Crusades or The How and Why Wonder Book of Beheadings and Burnings at the Stake).

5) DO NOT refer to your book as a novel. Novels are works of fiction; and your book is non-fiction–your audience knows the difference and wants to know that you do, too.

6) DO NOT use first names OR PERSONAL TITLES (Professor, President, General, King, for example) to refer to either your author or to anyone else you mention in your critique (Abraham Lincoln is Lincoln, not President Lincoln, not Mr. Lincoln, and certainly not "Abe-baby"; Marilyn Monroe is Monroe, not Marilyn)–the exception here is when people are known by one name or a title (Genghis Khan is not "Mr. Khan," nor is he "Conqdude,"–he’s Temujin, or Genghis) or by a number (Pope Julius II is not "Popedude" nor is he "Julius", he is Julius II) or who have no last name (Sitting Bull is not "Mr. Bull," nor is he "Sitting"). Remember to stay within cultural boundaries (Mao Zedong is "Mao," not "Mr. Zedong," and Mohammed al-Ghazni is the guy’s name).

7) DO NOT use wide margins, extra-large type, triple-spacing or any other method to artificially lengthen your paper; I count words, not blank spaces.

8) DO NOT use photographs or illustrations of any kind–this is college.

9) DO NOT use a cover sheet or a title for your critique (your bibliographic citation IS your title). And DO NOT divide your critique into sections or subsections–think of it as a piece of formally written personal correspondence, like a letter you might write to someone.

10) DO NOT use more than 2 short quotes. Quotes are cited thus: "…"(p.3) DO NOT cite anything other than a direct quote (it is unnecessary). DO NOT cite other books, other reviews of your book, or any material not contained within your book. A book critique is a place for your ideas and the ideas of your author–not the ideas of anyone else. (By the way, author information is considered common knowledge for the purposes of this assignment; and so you do not cite it, either.)

If you are unclear on these DO NOTS or any other aspect of your paper, please ask me prior to submitting your work. Additional information and helpful ideas concerning the successful completion of this assignment will also be posted in the class’s FAQs, Discussion Board, and Announcements page as the semester progresses. Look for them.

You are responsible for the content of your paper. Proofread your work. Use a dictionary and thesaurus–spelling and grammatical errors will hurt your grade. Papers are due by the date on your syllabus/course menu and on your calendar and none will be accepted after that date. For excellent examples of book critiques, students should consult professional historical journals such as The American Historical Review, Journal of Southern History, or Western Historical Quarterly. All of these contain reviews of historical works.

You must submit your book critique as a .doc document attachment in accordance with the instructions for this assignment found on the Assignment page. Papers must be submitted in accordance with these procedures in order for them to receive a grade. There is a helpful interactive tutorial that teaches the submission process for assignments. You can find it by clicking on the Using Vista’s Tools icon on the homepage and then clicking on the Vista Tutorials icon on the next screen that appears. Check with the people at Technical Services if you are still not completely confident as to the type of file you are submitting or how to submit it. You will not be allowed to resubmit your paper for any reason, even if it is unreadable or unopenable; and so get it right the first time. You will receive an automatic F (zero points) grade for this assignment if I cannot open your file and read it. Submissions by any other means–such as in-class e-mail, campus e-mail, regular mail, etc.–are NOT allowed and will not be graded.

While these instructions may seem somewhat detailed, please remember that I am limited to expressing myself in print in an online class; and I do not wish to be unclear or incomplete in my directions. Let me reassure you, however. If you follow the directions–and ask me when you have questions about the directions–you will do well on this assignment. Remember I am always here to help you–and remember there is a link to a sample "A" paper provided for your reference on the Book Critique page.

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