BookReview Assignment Instructions
Book reviews within the historical profession are acommon means of both condensing complex narratives and offering scholarlypraise and critique of a subject. Moreover, historians with aspirations topublish their work are often tasked with writing scholarly book reviews toprove themselves to potential publishers. You are tasked with writing ascholarly book review, which will help develop your ability to assess the workof published scholarship.
You will review the scholarly book
John Pafford, TheForgotten Conservative: Rediscovering Grover Cleveland, 2013.
Thebook review must contain 700800 words and focus on the authors argumentsupporting their thesis. Use parenthetical citations when citing material fromthe book. Here are some additional tips and suggestions:
- Above all, what is the authors thesis? What are they trying to prove? In other words, what is holding the book together?
- Identify the key arguments used to support the thesis. You cannot describe all of them in minute detail, but you must provide an overview of all of them.
- Thoroughly read the introduction and conclusion. Often, the author will describe the thesis in the introduction and emphasize how it was proven in the conclusion. Determine what the author considers to be the key chapters offering support for the thesis. Thoroughly read those as well if time allows. There is an art to skimming chapters that the student must develop.
- Do not get bogged down in the minutia of details. Facts matter, especially when you rely upon evidence from books and articles to support your own research agenda. In other words, you will use historians arguments and the distinct facts and evidence to support the thesis statements of your own research papers in future classes. But, those facts and minor details are not part of a Book Review. Focus on the larger themes.
- Be sure to tell the story or stories that make the book a work of history. Retelling good stories we learn from other historians is an important part of what we do.
Top:Bibliographic citation in current Turabian format. Be certain to use titlecase, not all caps, and italicize the title. For example:
Religion and Resistance in Appalachia: Faithand the Fight against Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining. By Joseph D. Witt. (Lexington: The Universityof Kentucky Press, 2016. Pp. 284.)
Atthe start, provide a succinct statement of what the book is about. Mention theauthors full name and the full title and publisher of the book. Then, explainthe authors thesis.
Explainthe main arguments the author uses to support the thesis. Examine how theauthor lays out the main arguments. Do not provide a synopsis of the book,where the student walks through the book chapter by chapter. That is not thepoint of a Book Review.
Evaluatethe effectiveness of the arguments and the evidence used. Always provide bothpositive and critical comments, and encourage ways the argument could beimproved or otherwise sharpened.
Thestudents concluding paragraph must very briefly restate the importance of thebook to the study of the topic, the students general assessment of itsconclusions, and the effectiveness with which the author defended the thesis.
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