Does the research in support of these ideas seem credible?
Once you are ready to start writing : remember — a review is Not a Summary – your
introduction can summarize the book, but not for more than 2/3 of a page
Ë You do not want merely to outline what the book “says”
Ë Nor is a review an “essay” on the topic covered in the book
Ë a review IS critical (positive and negative) of an authors work
Basic issues include : thesis, authority and overall effectiveness.
On Thesis :
Ë what is the author trying to argue; what is the point?
Ë How successful is the author in answering either descriptive questions like who, what, when,
where, how and/or the more analytical issue of “why”? This does NOT mean just “working
through” the “5Ws” in your paper – try for a more imaginative take on the book.
Ë In short, what were the authors goals? Were they achieved?
On Authority :
Ë how many ideas and arguments does the book present?
Ë Of what quality?
Ë Are the ideas/arguments consistent?
Ë Does the research in support of these ideas seem credible?
Ë Is there enough? Are the ideas and information presented clearly?
On Perspective / bias :
Ë is the work tainted by a clear bias that ignores or understates evidence, thus favouring one
perspective; or presents statements without sufficient evidence ?
On Originality :
Ë does the book contribute something quite new to the field? This issue can be difficult for
students new to history, but remember — this is YOUR review — if you think the work
original or predictable (or indeed fascinating or boring) — SAY SO !!
Are there issues that not presented or steps that could have been made to improve the book ?
On “The Rest” :
Ë other issues that MAY be worth discussing include (but are not limited to) format (does the book
use photographs, statistics or tables, notes, bibliography, or index well?).
Ë Obviously, the quality of the writing itself (style / grammar / language usage) can also be
Make it YOUR Review :
Ë Students, often lacking experience in writing reviews, may well read other related works or even
other reviews; but remember, this is your opinion!!
Ë Having said that – it IS an academic review – just writing 8 pages that argue that you did not
“like” the book / it was boring WITHOUT establishing how & why will result in a poor grade
Ë It is NOT necessary to deal with every imaginable book review issue — if you feel that the index
or the photographs or the covers are not relevant, focus on issues that you see as important.
Just make your case.
Ë Remember that it is YOUR case !! Do NOT comply with the views of others if you feel otherwise.
Be sure NOT to “borrow” from others, whether in terms of content or the actual writing of
the review — plagiarism is a VERY serious academic offense!
In sum, there are areas common to all reviews; but each review also has more
FINISHING UP : or HOW YOU WRITE also matters !!!
The following section notes both format and writing issues. The goal is a well written review.
** if significant format or writing errors mar your paper, there will be an Automatic Mark
Deduction above and beyond the grade assigned for “writing quality
Cover page optional // at start of paper (TOP first page) – Include (as title) :
i) Author(s) name(s) ii) Full title iii) city of publication/ publisher/ year/ISBN
? eight  pages/ double spaced / regular font / margins – Please use “Times New Roman” 12
font ; “Arial” 12 font or the equivalent (overly large font will be penalized.) For margins – 1
inch/2.5 cm all around (sides/top/bottom) is appropriate. Leave only a double space between
paragraphs, not a major gap. (Short papers will be penalized).
? number your pages // use regular spacing between paragraphs
? one issue per paragraph