Dos and Don'ts for Writing History Book Reviews

Leslie Kell
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Grade Levels
12th, Adult Education, Homeschool
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Leslie Kell
1 Follower


History book reviews present a unique challenge in that only part of the review is on the book itself. Can i pay someone to write my essay of the contents, you have to scrutinize the author, the author's sources and the available information on the event in question. The goal of your review should be to share information on the value of the book as a source for other readers. Following some simple guidelines should help create an insightful review.

DO: Start with the author.

Probably the most important question to ask is, "Who wrote it?" What are the author's credentials on the subject matter? What about his education or experience gives him expertise in the event or time being discussed? Check to see if the author has a web page that provides some of this information, but also investigate other sources where the author may be quoted or interviewed about the event.

DO: Read the introduction or forward.

The foreword of the book may provide great insight into the author's argument. This section is often a place where the author chooses to reveal why the topic was chosen. The contents of the foreword may give you avenues to pursue when researching or a deeper understanding of what the author was hoping to achieve. Regardless, you likely have plenty to explore from this section alone.

DO: Summarize the author's historical approach.

When reviewing a history book, you should seek to summarize what new information the author is bringing to the table. Make sure your reader understands what distinguishes this book from the others on the same subject matter. Does the book look at an aspect of an event that is lesser known or from a perspective that is covered less? Remember, you are not summarizing the events in history but the author's argument or depiction of them.

DON'T: Overlook the bibliography.

The seemingly endless list of source material and references can be tempting to ignore, but even cursory review could yield some interesting patterns. For instance, if the book was recently published but the majority of the references are older, your review might discuss the minimal use of up-to-date materials. Maybe the same authors appear over and over again in the references. If so, further scrutiny on the variety of sources would be in order.

DON'T: Shy away from your opinion.

A history book review should state your thoughts on the contents of the book. Take the time to outline the strengths and weaknesses of the author's arguments, organization of events, and skill in writing. Discuss the importance of the book's thesis in relation to current events or compared to other authors. Your opinion matters and is the point of the review.

When done artfully and with thought, a good review of a historical work can give your readers insight on whether the book would be useful for their purposes. Spending less time on summarizing the historical aspects of the book and centering more on the author's central argument produces a highly useful and interesting review.

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