Comparative Book Review
Assignment Learning Objectives:
By the end of this assignment, students will:
Engage in formal writing that requires utilization of all stages of the writing process.
Demonstrate reading comprehension through the communication of an original synthesis;
Use critical reading skills;
Analyze how historical events can be subject to interpretation; and
Improve their ability to select engaging and appropriate evidence to support their argument(s).
This assignment builds on the first two assignments where you critically reviewed a journal article and a book. In this case for Assignment 3 you will critically compare two books. The process is essentially the same except you now have to also compare the two books. Since you should have completed Assignment 2, half of your work is already done. You will need to rework and improve your analysis from Assignment 2 and add in new analysis about the other book.
These are non-fiction books which cover historical topics and not novels. Both of these are required texts for this course and you have to read them anyway.
You must critically analyze and compare these two books:
Steele, Ian K. Warpaths: Invasions of North America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.
Wright, Ronald. Stolen Continents. New York: Penguin, 2009.
How to Write a Comparative Critical Book Review
The steps to follow for Assignment 3 are essentially the same as for Assignment 2. The difference is you now follow the same critical thinking steps for the additional book that were outlined in the sections “Before Your Read the Book” and “Reading the Book: Points to Consider”. Once you have done that for the second book, you can then begin comparing and contrasting them.
A comparative book review is a critical evaluation of each book’s strengths, weaknesses and validity in terms of the author’s argument/ thesis/purpose for writing the book. When you do this you are explaining each book’s value through explanation, interpretation and analysis. When you do this you should compare and contrast how each author treats or interprets the subject. The assignment then is essentially a comparison/contrast essay.
Detailed Format Guidelines:
These guidelines are also essentially the same as Assignment 2, except now you must compare both books in the process.
Write the First Draft
It must be typewritten (use a standard 12-point font Times New Roman or Time Roman) and double-spaced with one-inch (2.5cm) margins.
Your title page should have your name, course and date. It also should have a title that reflects the thrust of your review.
The comparative critical book review should begin on page one with a complete citation of each book. Use the same bibliographic citation format as you would for any bibliography in Chicago Style. This part is easy since I have given you that at the start of these assignment guidelines.
Your comparative critical book review should then be written in paragraph, essay form.
The first paragraph should contain sentences that cover things like:
A statement of your thesis
Each author’s purpose in writing their book.
What is each author’s main argument or thesis?
Comments on how each book relates to the other since each is essentially on the same subject.
Brief information about each author’s reputation or authority in the field
This sets the scene and gives the reader what they need to know to understand the main points of the book
The body of the comparative critical book review should state your arguments in support of your thesis and should compare and contrast each book by building paragraphs around things like:
The most important information in each book is/concerns . . .
What information/evidence and sources does each author use to support the argument or thesis? To expand on this statement you will have to look at the foot or endnotes. Do not spend too much time on this aspect. What you need are a few sentences that show the type of evidence each author is using.
If an author makes assumptions what are they? Think about what the author is assuming to be true and what might be questioned.
When writing this book, the author’s point of view may have been influenced by something? It is important to remember that historians are influenced by events that occurred during the time when they wrote or their own background. If there is evidence that one or both of the authors was influenced in some way, you might mention it briefly.
What are each author’s general conclusions or inferences?
Does each author’s argument support the main point(s)? Is the evidence convincing?
If you accept one or both author’s line of reasoning, what are the wider ramifications of the conclusions on our understanding of the past and the present?
If you do not accept one or both author’s line of reasoning, what consequence does rejecting this argument have on our understanding of the past and the present?
Sparingly use quotations from the book which illustrate your main ideas.
Be sure to document the sources of your information in the form of footnotes.
Remind yourself that your assignment is primarily to critically discuss each book through comparison and contrast about how each treats the topic, not the topic itself. That is to say you are looking at each author’s argument. Your key sentences should therefore say things like “This book shows…the author argues" rather than “This happened…this is the case.”
The concluding paragraph should include information like:
summarize your critical review by restating your main points
restate your thesis
Revise the First Draft
Ideally, you should leave your first draft for a day or two before revising. This allows you to gain a more objective perspective on your ideas. Check for the following when revising:
grammar and punctuation errors
organization, logical development and solid support of your thesis
errors in quotations or in references
You may make major revisions in the organization or content of your review during the revision process. Revising can even lead to a radical change in your central thesis.
Submit Your Assignment
Your assignment is to be submitted through appropriate assignment link in the “Dropbox” found in the pull down menus. Be sure to submit your assignment by the due date and time. You will not be able to submit assignments after the date due. If you need an extension, please inform the instructor in advance or as soon as possible for consideration. I will mark your assignment, provide comments etc, and return the marked assignment through the course online submission tools. Be sure to keep a backup of your assignment.
These guidelines are borrowed and abridged from the following sources: