book review must contain 700 – 800 words H u m a n i t i e s

book review must contain 700 – 800 words H u m a n i t i e s

Book Review Instructions – History of American Politics – HIUS-341

Review 1 scholarly book of his/her choice from the Book Review Approved Book List.

Failure to use a book from this list will result in an automatic 50% grade reduction.



The Books – (Note These Are Not PDF’s of the books; I was not able to get the actual file.)

Thomas Kidd, Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots, 2011. –

John Pafford, The Forgotten Conservative: Rediscovering Grover Cleveland, 2013. –

Andrew Hogue, Stumping God: Reagan, Carter, and the Invention of a Political Faith, 2012. –


The Book Review must contain 700–800 words and focus on the author’s argument supporting his or her thesis.

Use parenthetical citations when citing material from the book.

Here are some additional tips and suggestions.

1. Above all, what is the author’s thesis? What is he or she trying to prove? In other words, what is holding the book together?

2. Identify the key arguments used to support the thesis. The student cannot describe all of them in minute detail, but he/she must provide an overview of all of them.

3. Always thoroughly read the introduction and conclusion. The author will often describe the thesis in the introduction and emphasize how it was proven in the conclusion. Determine what the author considers to be the key chapters offering support for the thesis. Thoroughly read those as well if time allows. There is an “art” to skimming chapters that the student must develop.

4. Do not get bogged down in the minutia of details. Facts matter, especially when the student relies upon evidence from books and articles to support his/her own research agenda. In other words, the student will use historians’ arguments and the distinct facts and evidence to support the thesis statements of his/her own research papers in future classes. But, those facts and minor details are not part of a Book Review. Focus on the larger themes.

5. Be sure to tell the story or stories that make the book a work of history. Retelling good stories we learn from other historians is an important part of what we do.


Top: Bibliographic citation in current Turabian format. Be certain to use title case, not all caps, and italicize the title. For example:

Religion and Resistance in Appalachia: Faith and the Fight against Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining. By Joseph D. Witt. (Lexington: The University of Kentucky Press, 2016. Pp. 284.)

Paragraph 1:

At the start, provide a succinct statement of what the book is about. Mention the author’s full name and the full title and publisher of the book. Then, explain the author’s thesis.

Paragraph 2:

Explain the main arguments the author uses to support the thesis. Examine how the author lays out the main arguments. Do not provide a synopsis of the book, where the student walks through the book chapter by chapter. That is not the point of a Book Review.

Paragraph 3:

Evaluate the effectiveness of the arguments and the evidence used. Always provide both positive and critical comments and encourage ways to improve or otherwise sharpen the argument.

Paragraph 4:

The student’s concluding paragraph must briefly restate the importance of the book to the study of the topic, the student’s general assessment of its conclusions, and the effectiveness with which the author defended the thesis.

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