Writing a Critical Book Review Pre-Academy Social Studies

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Writing a Critical Book Review

Pre-Academy Social Studies

Mr. White

The ability to critically analyze a primary source or other piece of writing is proficiency necessary to academic success. To aid in developing this lifelong skill you are writing a critical book review of selected biography or autobiography.

The text below highlights the differences between a book review and the critical book review which you are composing.
First, one must understand that a critical book review is not a book report (a summary of the contents of a book). A critical book review is a vehicle for examining and discussing issues the book itself raises or fails to raise. One writes a critical book review for the benefit of those who might not presently have time to read the book but who nevertheless need to learn more about its basic approach should they desire to read or study it at a future time. The job of the book reviewer is to inform these readers concerning any merits and/or shortcomings the book may have. From information based on a well-written review, the reader may conclude that this book is either indispensable or inconsequential. (Copied)
Because it is a critical book review one evaluates the text rather than just summarizes the storyline. It is an effort to point out the strengths and weaknesses of the writing, glaring omissions, bias and whether or not the author has adequately supported their thesis or purpose in writing the book. It is not about your liking or no liking the book, but as the author met their purpose in writing. You both praise and criticize the book based on textual evidence, striking a balance between the two.
Components of a Critical Book Review. See handout for detailed explanation. Source: http://www.sebts.edu/files/dmin/bookreview.pdf
A. Complete bibliographical information

B. Briefly state the reason this book was chosen for review.

C. Briefly (in one or two well-written sentences) summarize the thesis of the book.

D. The main body of a critical book review will be concerned with "thesis development." That is, did the author achieve the stated purpose? In this section the reviewer will inspect each of the chapters of the book to see how the thesis is (or is not) developed.

E. Finally, a summary section should be attached.
Possible texts available on a first come first served basis.
Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Narrative of Sojourner Truth

Narrative of My Escape from Slavery by Moses Roper
Assigned January 5, 2015

  • Read your selected text between Jan.5 and Jan. 16.

  • You can begin your rough draft once you have significantly gotten along in your book.

Rough Draft Due January 20, 2015

Final Product Due January 30, 2015

1. Contains a sample critical book review.

2. Suggestions on how to read history.

3. How to read for a book review.

4. Tips on writing a critical book review.


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