1.5-spaced, “Times New Roman” 12-point font, 1 inch margins on all sides, 2-3 pages.
Book Review: Also called a critical review essay is different from a book report. The purpose of a review is not simply to report on the contents of a
book (although this will comprise a small part of the review), but rather to evaluate it and provide a critical commentary on its contents.
“Books are not made to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry” -Umberto Eco
Format of the Book Review:
1. Introduction: Identify the book you are going to review. The author, title, date and place of publication may be placed at the beginning of the
essay in the form of a bibliographic citation. Then state what the author’s goal was in writing the book. Why did the author write on this specific
subject? What contribution to our understanding of science did the author intend to make?
2. Brief Summary: In the main body of the review, you should begin by briefly describing the content and organization of the book, along with the most
important evidence used. Do not get bogged down in details here; this section is only intended to prepare the reader for the critical assessment to
3. Critical Assessment: Evaluate the book’s contribution to our understanding of history. There are several things you should look for:
a) Identify the author’s central argument, or thesis. The thesis is not the topic of the book but the specific argument that the author has made about
her or his subject. Sometimes, the author states the thesis in the book’s introduction, sometimes in the conclusion. Feel free to read these sections
of the book first to determine the author’s main argument. Knowing the main argument will help guide you through the rest of the book. Finding the
central argument or arguments can be like finding the forest in the trees: it requires you to step back from the mass of information to identify
larger themes. Sometimes a book lacks an explicit argument or thesis.
b) Identify the author’s perspective, point of view, or purpose.
c) Look at the author’s evidence: what sources did he or she use? Is it one sided. This does not mean that any conclusions from such evidence would be
invalid, but the author should demonstrate an awareness of any limitations imposed by the sources used.
d) Conclusion: Assess the organization and style of the book. Is it well-organized and clearly written? Does the style or the content of the book
recommend it to a specific readership? Offer a final evaluation of the book: How valuable is it? How important is it to read this book?
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