Writing a Book Review
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A critical book review is a thoughtful discussion of a text's contents, strengths, and limitations. A book review should reflect your capacity to read critically and to evaluate an author's arguments and evidence. Compose your review as you would any essay, with an argument supported by evidence, and a clear, logical structure.
1. Read the book carefully, taking notes on material that you think may be relevant or quotable and on your impressions of the author's ideas and arguments. 2. Determine the author's principal argument, the chief themes of the text, the kinds of evidence used, and the way in which the author uses them.
Organizing the Review
1. All reviews begin with bibliographic information: the author's name, the book's full title, place of publication, publisher, edition, date, pagination, and cost, if known. 2. In no more than two paragraphs, introduce the book. Give your initial appraisal of the work, including your key observation on the text. This key observation will be your thesis. Try not to begin with a flat statement such as "This book is interesting." Begin with an anecdote, a challenging quotation, or a key observation. 3. Follow with descriptive analysis and evaluation of the text. You may either treat these topics separately, first describing the book's contents, the author's argument, presentation, and evidence, and then offering your own evaluation, or you may weave the two together. In either case, a. clearly set out the author's purpose in writing the book, and whether or not you think the author has succeeded. b. describe the author's arguments and the themes of the book, and give your appraisal of their validity and effectiveness. c. describe the sources and evidence the author uses to prove his case, and evaluate their appropriateness and sufficiency. What are the author's sources? Should the author have used more, or different,...
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