Book Review Guidelines
The purpose of the book review assignment is to give you (student) an opportunity to practice writing in a succinct style that makes the most of each sentence and of each word. It also gives you a chance to think critically in analyzing and reviewing an
historical monograph in the field of American history. The following is a rough outline
of a good book review: Some points have been highlighted because they are the most
important parts of the review, or where students most often slip up.
As you write the review avoid the following:
1) Do not write in first person – use the reader or the reviewer instead of “I”
2) Avoid the use of contractions
3) Do not write in present tense
4) Limit the use of to be verbs
Your review should be three to five pages in length, double-spaced, in 12-point font
(Times New Roman). Good Luck!
The heading should be one inch from the top of the paper.
On the first page include a heading modeled on the following:
Martin McCauley, Origins of the Cold War, 1941-1949. (New York: Pearson/Longman,
2008). Reviewed by __________________________. (Your name goes here)
The previous was an example; you will use the title of YOUR book!!
The text should begin three single spaces below the heading.
Sections I and II should be page one of your review.
I. Author (one developed paragraph)
A. Who is the author? Does he/she teach? Write? Where? Living or
B. Other works by this author?
C. Is the author qualified to write on this subject? Has the author written
other books on the same topic? If so give an example of a few.
II. Summary of the Book (one developed paragraph)
A. What is the book about? Be specific without being over bearing.
Sections III and IV should be pages two through three of your review.
A. What is the author’s main point? What is the one main idea he/she is
trying to convey?
A. What are the main supporting points of the work? Name five of the
most important. Does the author support the main point convincingly?
Sections V and VI should be pages four through five of your review. (Sections V
and VI should be where you are critical of the book.)
V. Sources (not the same thing as “support”!)
A. Does the author use primary sources? Newspapers, diaries, court
cases, letters, abstracts of title, etc.
B. Does the author use secondary sources? Books written by other
C. Does the author have a bibliography or list of books to read to enhance
ones knowledge on the subject?
D. Does the author have pictures or maps in the book?
VI. Your opinion of the book
A. Audience: For whom was the book written? Scholars? Students? The
B. What do you personally, think of the book?
C. Would you recommend the book to other readers, why or why not?
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