Writing A Book Review
A book review is much different than writing a book report. In a book report students simply retell the story as presented by the author. For years students have done that since their initial exposure to historical literature in primary school. But a book review requires more. The key difference is the analysis that is expected in a book review. But what is "analysis?" Analysis is the ability to ascertain the meaning of the book as well as the author's intent. In other words what is the author getting at? What is the author's purpose? How does the author use the evidence or facts found in the work? What claim does the author make to being an expert or an authority in the field? What has the author written in the past? How has the author's previous books been received? Did the author use archives? Does the author document where the evidence came from? Is the author convincing in the presentation of the arguments presented in the book? Did the reviewer enjoy the book? What have other reviewers said about the book? What is the book's story line? Likewise your review should catch and maintain the reader's attention. Of course that requires a smooth and fluid prose, which requires writing multiple drafts if necessary. Likewise, students should examine previous reviews of the book found in scholarly journals and to that requires a trip to the library. Also look at other book reviews found in the New York Times Book Review or the New York Review of Books for ideas, some can be found online. Finally, look at the model found below in graphic form.
For additional information concerning other components of a book review see the following links the Writers Handbook, which covers the Chicago Manual of Style and 5th edition of Turabian's Manual for Writers as well as the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers . For citing electronic sources, something that may come in handy, see Citing Electronic Information in History maintained by Maurice Crouse, a historian at the University of Memphis.