Book Review Outline

[This web page is adapted from a class handout written for his classes by Professor john Flynn]

1. Give the full title, author's name, and publication data. Set this apart from the body of the review.

2. Give some information about the author which would aid in the understanding of the nature of the book. Is this his first book on the topic? Is the author renowned? Does he have special training or experience in this field? What does the publication data tell you about the book and its author? Is the book up to date? What is the author's nationality? You can get most of this information from the Who's Who, or from published reviews, or from the book itself. Limit this section to two or three sentences.

3. State the subject of the book. Your description of the subject should take the reader from where he presumably stands in point of knowledge and brings him to the book under review. Use two or three sentences at most. Be sure to distinguish this from the author's objective, which you will deal with next.

4. What is the author's objective? You succinctly answer this question by stating the thesis or particular argument about the subject the author is propounding. As you do so you may very well need to explain how the author presents his material. In other words, how is the book organized? Topically? Chronologically? Use three to five sentences.

5. Summarize the main points or conclusions the author makes to prove his thesis. Use several paragraphs. Your summary should contain enough detail to be informative and do justice to the author. But, there is no need to recopy the whole book.

6. How well did the author prove his thesis? Evaluate this on the basis of completeness, factual grounding or documentation, the logic of his conclusions and arguments, and style. See reviews published in scholarly journals, major newspapers and periodicals. Evaluate the most detailed reviews: Do you agree or disagree with their conclusions? Would you qualify their comments in any way or amplify them? Explain your answers in detail.

7. Explain the significance of this book. In other words, what contribution does this book make to the study of its subject? Exactly what makes the book significant? Its approach? Its conclusions or discoveries? The author's unique perspective? How do the scholars rate this book? What did they say about its significance? Do you agree with them? Why? Why not? How does the knowledge contained in this book compare with that offered in a textbook or an encyclopedia?

Answer the questions listed above as directly as possible. Refer to these questions as you read the book and as you read the reviews. Note down your thoughts as they come to you, and then put them together in a coherent and effective review essay. Be sure to take care to express yourself clearly, observing academic standards for neatness, grammar, spelling, punctuation, and style. Proofread your work. Serious shortcomings in style will render your essay unintelligible and presumably lower your grade.

Finding Book Reviews

[This part of the guide is directed especially to Mr. Flynn's class in European history.]

Listed below are indexes which give citations to book reviews that have appeared in periodicals. Begin searching the indexes with the year the book was published.
Once the citation(s) is found, you need to see if the library carries the magazine cited. This can be done by checking the periodical locator list, located near the index tables.
If you need help, kindly ask a Reference Librarian for assistance.

21035A1 
P62i
Ref. 
Combined Retrospective Index to Book Reviews
15 vols.  Table 5.
016
B72
Ref.
Book Review Digest
1905-date.  Gives summaries of at least two reviews and directs the user to the full reviews and to other reviews.  Set includes cumulative index of books published between 1905 and 1974.
016
B724 
Ref.
Book Review Index
1965-68, 1971-76.
016
C976
Ref.
 Current Book Review Citations
1976-date.
016.028
I38
Ref.
Index to Book Reviews in the Humanities
1961-76.
016.05
P62i
Ref.
 Poole's Index to Periodical Literature
1802-1906.  Includes reviews of popular books, listed under author.
016.05
N714
Ref.
19th Century Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature
Similar to Poole's
016.05
R28
Ref.
Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature
Continuation of above.  There is a special section of book review citations
 at the end of each volume beginning with Volume 36.
016.07471
R28
Ref.
New York Times Index
1851-date.  Look under "Book Reviews."
016.05 
I61 
Ref.
International Index:  A Guide to Periodical Literature in the Social Sciences
(Later title:  Social Sciences and Humanities Index)  The Index was later
Ref.  divided into two indexes (see below.)
016.05
H918
Ref.
 Humanities Index 

 

016.8
E78
Ref.
Essay and General Literature Index

 

016.9 
E8481
Ref.
Index to Book Reviews in Historical Periodicals,
1977
016.05
S678
Ref.
Social Science Index

 

PERIODICALS PROVIDING BOOK REVIEWS ON WORKS IN EUROPEAN HISTORY

If you are having trouble locating scholarly book reviews, consult relevant historical journals for the year the book was published and the following two years.
Most historical journals will include a list of books reviewed in the table of contents.

905
A512G
American Historical Review.  1895--.
Contains from 150 to 200 book reviews in each issue.  Includes all geographical areas.
940.05
C212
Canadian-American Slavic Studies.  1972--.
Each issue contains 30 to 40 book reviews.  This journal focuses on the USSR and Eastern Europe.
942.005
E585
English Historical Review.  1962--
Approximately 120 book reviews in each issue.
9005
H6735
Historical Journal
England and Europe are the main focus of this journal.  Each issue includes 8-10 book reviews.
905
H6737
History (England).  1949--.
Includes numerous detailed book reviews (85-95 per issue) on English and European history.
905
J865
Journal of Modern History.  1947--.
Focuses on European history.
947.005
R969
Russian Review.  1949-50, 1958-61, 1964--.
Includes 25-30 book reviews in each issue.
940.05
S631
Slavic Review.  1961--.
Includes 50-75 book reviews in each issue.
940.05
S6313
Slavonic and East European Review.  1970--.
 Includes 15-20 book reviews in each issue.
973.205
W716
William and Mary Quarterly.  1944--.
Includes European history as it relates to America.  Includes 15-20 book reviews in each issue.

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