The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man
The critical book reviews shall develop the student?s skills in reading and analyzing historical monographs and articles, and primary sources. To assist in bringing the critical book review into a sub-field of history, the student will be required to read and integrate a minimum of three articles from major historical journals (JSTOR,American Historical Review, Reviews in American History and/or Journal of American History) into the critical book reviews. The reviews will be typed, double-spaced, font size of 12, Times New Roman typeset, citations in proper Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition) [history majors] or MLA Style (6th Edition) [non-history majors] including a properly formatted bibliography (does not count toward the total word count required), proper grammar, punctuation, spelling, margins of one-inch on all four sides, contain a proper title page (as attached to this syllabus), page numbered, be submitted in Microsoft Word, placed in the appropriate assignment DROPBOX on eCompanion prior to 2359 hours on the assigned due date of this particular assignment, and be 1,000-1,500 words. The student is held responsible for fully understanding what constitutes plagiarism, and Park University?s and the professor?s regulations regarding consequences of plagiarism detection and fabrication.
Total Possible on each Assignment: 50 points
Critical Book Review Format:
The object of writing a book review, of 1,000-1,500 words, on a historical text is to point out the conclusions that the author presents in the work, and to assess the validity of the conclusions.
Writing a book review as an assignment in a history course has at least four important objectives:
? Effective writing;
? A substantive knowledge about a particular historical topic;
? An understanding of the nature and use of historical research; and
? An ability to think critically about the work of others.
A book review goes beyond mere summary to inquire into the overall worth of a work.
In order to do a competent review, it is best to read quickly through the novel for general content, noting anything that seems significant and/or controversial. Then go back and consider more thoroughly the basic structure and thesis of the work. As you are reading, keep several questions in mind:
? What is the subject and purpose of the work (general text, new interpretation, propaganda)?
? How qualified is the author to deal with the topic? Find out about the author?s education and past experience in order to judge whether he/she is especially qualified as an expert in the field.
? What is the author?s point of view on the subject? Try to discern if there are any reasons why the author may be presenting a biased approach.
? How does the author?s point of view compare with that of other historians who have written on the same topic?
? How valid is the author?s point of view and how competently is the argument presented?
? Assess how important the work is in relation to the material already available on the subject and whether the author has fulfilled the purpose for which the work was intended.
Remember, you are posing as an expert and it is your job to be critical. However, do not expect the author to have written the work you have in mind. Pay particular attention to what the author says is the focus of the work in the Introduction and judge how well the stated goals are carried out.
Organization of a Book Review:
When quoting from or referring to a particular section of the work you are reviewing, give the page number in a formal citation. If you draw upon other resources, be sure you cite according to the proper format.
You are not held to any specific order in presenting your review. However, you will find that it is helpful to check that you have discussed the following in some logical sequence:
? Statement of the purpose and general content of the work.
? Discussion in detail of the author?s main conclusions and an assessment of their validity, including a comment on sources and a comparison with other authors.
? Overall assessment of the value of the work to historical literature and of the merits and shortcomings of the work as you see them.
The following outline is only a suggestion:
A. Purpose of the work.
B. Author?s Qualifications and Viewpoint.
II. Critical Summary
A. Thesis of the Work.
B. Summary of contents, indicating how the thesis is developed (Use examples. While this will generally be the longest part of the review, you should make sure that your review does not become a mere summary without analysis)
III. Style and Presentation
A. Organization of the Work.
B. Writing Style (word choice, paragraph structure, readability, and length)
A. Historical contribution of the work (How does the work fit into the prevailing interpretation of the subject? Does it break new ground? Does it answer a troublesome question? Does it revise older interpretations? Does it merely clarify and simplify the standard point of view?)
B. Overall worth of the work (Would you recommend the work? For what type of audience would it be best suited? Did the author accomplish his/her purpose?)
When we are familiar with the format and the hidden meanings of sentences we know that we are reading a particular text genre ? in this case a book review. Essentially we can always tell we are reading a book review from the language and the structure that it employs. Writers of book reviews typically progress through four stages, as follows:
1. They introduce the book by:
o outlining the general topic
o indicating who the book is for
o placing the book in its field.
2. Next, they often outline the content of the book by:
o giving a general view of its the organization
o stating the topic of each chapter/section.
3. Then they highlight parts of the book by:
o selecting particular chapters or themes for evaluation
o critiquing the argument of the book.
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