Writing a Book Review

Book reviews are one of the most common forms of historical writing. A book review critically evaluates one or more works on the basis of several analytical points. These include: accuracy, validity, and the book's relationship to other works of its kind. A review is written from the standpoint that the reader knows something about the book and does not require a chapter by chapter summary. In fact, such a summary would be contrary to the purpose of the review.

Writers should begin a book review by introducing the reader to the author's main point, the facts presented or omitted, and the conclusions reached by the author. It is also helpful to do some background on the author, exploring their previous work and qualifications to write on the subject. The review should have a thesis statement. The remainder of the review should delve into why the author used a particular method of historiography and the kind of information he or she uses to support the main points of the book. Basically, the reviewer's task is to determine whether the author's methods and interpretations are valid for the subject.

The preceding work incorporated material from How to Study History (Cantor & Schneider, 161-64).


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