AMH 2020 and CRN 50484
Writing Guide: A book review should translate your conclusions into a clear, well-organized, and well-researched example of formal writing, critical thinking, and historical analysis. It is a critical commentary, not a summary! It demands your thesis for your review, not the author’s thesis for the book you are reviewing as historical literature. Begin the review by citing at the top of page one the author, title, place of publication, publisher, copyright date, and pagination as shown in this example:
Shorter, Edward L. The Making of the Modern Family. Boston: Basic Books, 1987. pp. 322.
The text of the review should identify the author’s thesis, his or her method of supporting the thesis, the strength or weakness of the evidence and argument, the quality of the writing, and such other points as:
– How well does the author defend the thesis? Does he or she present evidence to support all important points or assume that the reader will understand and agree with unsupported conclusions. Does he or she present arguments in chronological, narrative, or a topical fashion? Does the author analyze or merely describe events? What is the nature of evidence, primary sources (first-hand observations) or secondary (the work of others)? Is the evidence presented relevant, contradictory, inadequate, or convincing?
– Does there appear to be a bias, a sympathy for a social or political view, or a blind spot that distorts the argument? Does the author appear impartial? Does the author seem competent by training or experience to write on the subject? (A visit to the reference section of the library or an electronic data base may give you helpful information on the author so that you can decide questions of bias and competence.)
– Is the book or article clearly written, well-organized, easy to follow, dull, or confusing? The way in which the author presents material may suggest how he or she feels about it, or how well he or she understands it. Does the work include helpful maps, graphs, tables, appendices, a bibliography, or are these items neglected to the detriment of the book?
– Is the book worthwhile? Does it say anything new, or does it just repeat what others have said? Has it dealt with an important topic? Has it overlooked relevant issues? What have other scholars and book reviewers said about this work in scholarly sources (e.g., scholarly journals and Book Review Digest)? Does the book have historical significance? If so, why? You will need to do quality research in order to properly answer these questions.
– At an appropriate juncture in the review you should discuss the author’s qualifications for writing on this subject. This discussion should include relevant information on the author’s academic training, honors, previous publications, and employment history. Again, you will need to complete quality research to properly address this concern.
_ What have other “experts” said about your book? You will need to cite in you review information gleaned from book reviews in scholarly journals to address this question. Do not cite reviews from non-scholarly periodicals such as Booklist, Publisher’s Monthly, and Choice, and do not use Amazon.com or newspapers, with the exception of the Sunday Book Review sections of the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and New York Times.
Addressing all these guidelines should result in a strong review. However, your grade is based on the total effectiveness of your work and how well you follow class directions, not simply on a systematic checklist of the above mentioned points (see Appendix A).
I will use proofreader’s symbols on your graded papers. If you are not familiar with proofreader’s symbols, be sure to review them prior to receiving your graded papers. Descriptions of proofreader’s marks can be found in most collegiate dictionaries, writing guides, and on the Web.
Students are advised, as well, that all submitted assignments should be typed (double spaced) and include in the upper right-hand corner of page one the student’s name, the course number, and the date on which the work is submitted, and then five spaces down include the title of the assignment. Do not use any type of cover or plastic folders and all submitted work by email attachment must be completed as one document (for example, do not send a Word attachment for the review, another for the bib, and yet another for the required outline). Use only Kate L. Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations, latest edition. Use only the footnote style (see, for example, Turabian Part II) and not the parenthetical style also found in Turabian. The parenthetical style is for APA and MLA papers; neither the APA nor MLA style will be accepted in this class. Students who do not follow Turabian’s footnote style and submit papers with the APA or MLA style will be downgraded.
This is the chosen book for the review
Online access to this full text.
Megan Ming Francis, Civil Rights and the Making of Modern American State
(New York; Cambridge University press, 2014) pp. 197
Publius: The journal of Federalism, Vol. 45, No. 4
(Fall 2015), pp.1-3
Law of Society Review, Vol. 49, No. 2
Reminder for the upcoming book reviews:
• 5 pages, typed, double spaced, excluding end matter
• use Turabian style
• do not use more than 2 short quotations
• do not use more than 2 quality Internet research sources, excluding all sources accessed electronically through the FGCU library
• use at least 2 primary sources and/or scholarly book reviews, and add biographical information on the book’s author
• attempt to use 5 or more quality sources
• document sources in footnotes and in a bibliography
• do not use encyclopedias, reference works, textbooks, or other survey works
• follow the class Writing Guide
• when all else fails, follow directions