Book review

As your instructor, I expect to read a polished, college-level essay that you have carefully revised, edited, and proofread. The essay must be written using Standard English, which includes correct use of grammar and punctuation, as well as the correct spelling of all words. Use a consistent tone, style, and voice throughout your essay. I will not accept any work that looks like a first draft. You are not writing a text message, but you are writing an essay. Use complete sentences and word choice befitting a college-level essay.

You will accomplish the following in your four to five page analytical essay:

Explain how the writer approaches and considers one or two of the themes we have studied this semester, such as scientific or cultural paradigm shifts, economic volatility, national competition, war, ethnic and racial violence, migration, and/or environmental degradation.

State a thesis in the opening paragraph which guides your essay and which previews the main points you will address in the essay.

Identify the authors purpose, intended audience, and main idea.

Provide details and specific examples in the body of the essay that support any assertions (also known as claims) you make about the book and the author (You do not have to agree with the author, nor do you have to like the book that is the subject of your analysis.

Your goal is to write a college-level critical analysis, NOT a summary of the book or a high school-level book report. Your thesis cannot be based around whether you like or dislike the book or the author.)

Focus primarily on the book and avoid turning the analysis into a research paper. (You may consult outside sources minimally to fill in any gaps in the text of your paper.

Background reading, especially about authors, can help you better understand the authors point of view in his or her book. However, I want you to see evidence of YOUR critical thinking skills rather than a conglomeration of other writers and reviewersinterpretations of the book. Your analysis must be your own!)

Document using MLA format any absolutely essential information that you decide to include from outside sources. (Limit direct quotations or paraphrases of sources to short, pithy statements that clearly connect to your thesis.) If you include information from sources outside the book, cite the sources within the text of your essay using parenthetical citations as well as a Works Cited list at the end of your essay.

If you quote from the book you are analyzing or from an outside source, write the quotation accurately and set off the quotation in quotation marks. Keep quotations to a minimum since I want to read your analysis of the book. General information (that is, information that is common knowledge to the readers of your essay) does not have to be cited.

Your essay must include the following:
Begin with a thesis that provides the main idea of your analysis and which previews the analysis essays main points.
The body of the essay consists of four to five areas of you have chosen to analyze in the book. Do not write a summary. Do focus on the main points you have decided to analyze.
It is essential that you write a conclusion. Do not leave the reader hanging, and do not introduce a new topic in the conclusion.
It should be typed double-spaced using a legible 10-11 point font.

Provide the authors credentials. This is the only part of your paper that you need to research. Why is he or she qualified to write the book you have chosen? Consider his or her education and experiences. Use resources available to you in the library and also in the book you have selected. DO NOT include irrelevant information but DO focus on experiences the author has had that most likely influenced the authors choice of topic and the supporting information and details included in the book. (You must provide more information than that which you find on the book jacket and/or the authors and/or publishers Web site.
1. Consider the authors intentions. Some clues pertaining to intentions are
evidenced by the presence of an appendix, a bibliography, and/or indexes
that show the book is a scholarly work.
2. HINT! The introduction (or preface) to a book often contains an explicit
statement of the authors intent.
3. Content and writing style also provide clues as to the authors intended
audience. Here is an example: Niall Ferguson
Example: Niall Ferguson is a prolific writer on twentieth-century history. He has written provocative books on World War I, financial institutions, and the current financial crisis. He has numerous advanced degrees and is currently the Lawrence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard Business School and a Senior Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford University and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Information on Ferguson and connections to his blog can be found at his home page ( He is known for his revisionist reviews of imperialism and financial institutions. While his books contain extensive footnotes and bibliographies, they also appeal to a popular audience. Fergusons books have been made into television series that have appeared on public television in both the United Kingdom and the United States. ( ).
It is always helpful to have several examples.

Include a very brief summary of the books contents. (Note: this is not a summary of the table of contents.) It is a statement describing the contents and author main point of THESIS. What does the author emphasize?
In The War of the World: Twentieth Century Conflict and the Descent of the West Ferguson argues that ethnic conflict, economic volatility, and empires in decline were responsible for the extreme violence of the last century (xli).

Sometimes an author has a main subject and side-topics. For example, John Barrys thesis The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History is that the confluence of biology, politics, and wartime needs exacerbated the quick spread of influenza and increased the death toll. In addition he considers the state of medical education and practice prior to the war and in general condemns Wilsonpolicies. The cover of Stephen Kinzers All the Shahs Men implies that the coup against Mossadegh was entirely an American operation when in fact it was initiated by the British who had political and economic interests in Iran.

Describe the sources used by your author to help him or her write the book.
Did he or she use primary sources? Secondary sources? How do you know?
In The War of the World: Twentieth Century Conflict and the Descent of the West, Ferguson argues that ethnic conflict, economic volatility, and empires in decline are responsible for the extreme violence of the last century (xli).
His discussion of ethnic violence begins with the assassination of Francis Ferdinand, the archduke of Austria, by Gavrilo Princip, a young Bosnian motivated by nationalist principles. Ethnic nationalism threatened the traditional monarchies in Europe, especially those composed of different nationalities and religious beliefs. The assassination carried out in the name of Serbian independence incited World War I (Ferguson 72-78).
Obviously you would want to include additional examples.
Often the author discusses her use of intentions and use of sources in the preface or introductory chapter. Look for a bibliography at the end of the book.

The critique: This should be the FOCUS of your paper. Support your evaluation with evidence from the book.
Has the author proven her thesis?
Is the treatment of the subject matter objective?
Are there facts and evidence not considered?
What kinds of evidence are used to support the authors thesis statement?
Is the writing style clear and effective? Would you recommend the book to other students?
What issues does the book raise?

Adhere to the following format guidelines when writing your essay:

This is a formal, college-level essay; therefore, do not use slang or contractions.
Refer to the author in the introductory paragraph by his or her full name. Thereafter,
use the authors LAST name.
Instead of writing In my opinion, the author uses unreliable sources, simply write,
The author uses unreliable sources. As you edit your essay, take out excess wording.
Pronoun references must be clear, and all pronouns must agree in number with the nouns to which they refer. Avoid using you, your, and yours and the overuse of
Your computers spell-checker and grammar-checker cannot read your mind. You must be responsible for checking spelling and grammar with the help of a Writing Center tutor if you have questions.
As your instructor, I cannot read your mind, either. I base your grade upon what you actually write, not what you intended to write. DO NOT wait until the last minute to write your essay. Write a draft and put it away for a day before you read it again and/or take it to the Writing Center.
Double space your essay and use a legible 12-point font.
Include a title page that lists the title of your essay (NOT underlined), your name, the date you hand in the essay, and HIS 247-470.

Turning in Your Assignment: Your essay must be emailed as an attachment to Do not use D2L email. If you are not using Microsoft Word you must save your attachment as a Rich Text File. I will not read any assignment unless your full name and class are in the subject line and there is a title page with your name, class, and assignment.

Grading Template 150 points
Mechanics 40 points
Introduction with thesis statement (Not a statement of intent or a statement of fact.) 10 points
A conclusion that summarizes your critique 10 points
Writing Style 10 points
Correct citations and Works Cited 10 points

Body of Your Essay 110 points
Authors Credentials 15 points
Brief Summary 10 points
Authors Sources 15 points (Do not list all the sources. Provide some examples.)
Critique: This is the FOCUS of your paper 70 points

I will include all these again.

Select one of these books for your book analysis project.


Balakan,Grigoris. Armenian Golgotha.  New York: Knopf Doubleday, 2009.

Barry, John M. The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History. New York: Penguin, 2005.

Becker. Jasper. Hungry Ghosts – Mao’s Secret Famine.  New York: Holt, 1999.

Browning, Christopher. Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland.  New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1992.

Chang, Iris. The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II.   New York: Penguin Book, 1997.

Eksteins, Modris. Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age.  New York: Anchor Books, 1989.

French, Howard W. A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa. New York: Vintage, 2005.

Haufler, Harvie. Codebreakers’ Victory: How the Allied Cryptographers Won World War II. New York: New American Library, 2003.

Hochschild, Adam.  King Leopold’s Ghost:   A Story of Greed, Terror, and Terrorism in Colonial Africa. New York: Mariner Books, 1998.

Kaplan, Robert. Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History. New York: Vintage, 1994.

Kurlansky, Mark. 1968: The Year that Rocked the World. New York: Random House, 2004.

Kinzer, Stephen. All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2003. —. Crescent and Star : Turkey Between Two Worlds. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002.

Skinner, E. Benjamin. A Crime So Monstrous: Face to Face with Modern Day Slavery. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2009.


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