The Treasury Of David

Instructor: L. Brock The book review in historical study is an extended essay which critically analyzes a historical writing. In addition to requiring the demonstration of basic communication skills, it demands that the student exhibit an understanding of the thesis of the book discussed. Although a review should never be a mere summation, some effort along this line is obviously required in order to maintain continuity of thought and to explore the various aspects of the book. Selection and length of a book may vary as long as the topic is within the scope of this course. The finished book review must be double-spaced, typed, and should be from three to five pages in length. Although this is in no way an all-inclusive list, a good book review should include a thorough discussion of the following: Bibliographical Citation—At the beginning of the review, but separate from the narrative, give a complete bibliographical citation. A sample bibliographical citation is given below: Cunningham, Noble E. In Pursuit of Reason: The Life of Thomas Jefferson. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 1987.Author’s Background—Information on the author’s background can be found in any number of biographical references in the library. Contemporary Authors and Biographical Dictionaries Master Index are two of the best references, but other works are available. It is important to establish the credentials of the author and to point out conditioning influences that might lead to a biased account (for example, factors of nationality, race, or religion).Scope of the Book—This refers to how broadly or narrowly the author treats his subject. The chronological time period and the topics included are two important aspects, but it is also helpful to know the range of material explored (e.g., economic, political, religious, military, social, etc.). For example, if a biography is being reviewed, did the author examine just the individual’s professional career or private life as well? Evaluation of the Author’s Organization, Research, Style and Objectivity—The reviewer should address the issues of organization of material and subject, amount and quality of research, writing style (both in regard to readability and clarity of arguments) and objectivity of author. This evaluation involves positive and negative assessments if they are applicable. Critical Assessment of the Book—This section is the heart of an effective review and should consume most of the space. You must critically analyze the book and evaluate the author’s basic thesis, theme, argument, or point of view. What message or information was the author trying to convey? What viewpoint or perspective did he bring to the subject? You need to state this perspective and to demonstrate clearly how the author developed it throughout the book by using examples from the book. Do NOT just summarize the book! Commentary and analysis belong in reviews, not just a listing of what each chapter covers. Finally, did the author present his theme or perspective in a convincing manner and were his objectives achieved? Why or why not? Reviewer’s Recommendation—While this does include subjective judgements, the reviewer should conclude with a scholarly evaluation of the book. What contribution does the work make to the field of study or knowledge in the area? Or does it? Is the work recommended reading? Why or why not? Who should read the book? (Note: Do NOT use first person in formal writing!)
***A key purpose of the book review is to require the student to evaluate an author’s work and convey this information in clear concise prose. After completing the review, you should ask yourself the following questions:1. Did I inform my reader of the subject and how the author treated the subject?2. Did I evaluate the work in a scholarly manner by including enough summary to explain the book but by giving my greatest attention to critical analysis and commentary on the theme, thesis, argument, or point of view in the work?3. Can my reader make an intelligent assessment of the book based upon my review?4. Have I produced a clear and readable narrative?***If you are reading a book in an area for which you have only a limited feel, it is a wise decision to do some background reading first. For example, if you were to choose a biography of Martin Luther, it would save you many hours of work and greatly enhance your knowledge of the life of this influential man to first read a few pages of introductory material from a general history of the Reformation Era. The Name of the Book is The Treasury of David

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