I hope that the end of this semester goes well for you and that your summer is relaxing and rejuvenating. Your name has been suggested for the Eleventh grade honors U.S. History class for next year. I am looking forward to starting next semester with all of you and have begun to prepare my curriculum and course materials for you. There is a reading assignment for you to complete this summer. Choose one of the books from the attached list and write a book review. Follow the guidelines for writing a book review located on the attached assignment. It is vital that you check the book out of your local library or purchase the book from a bookstore early in the summer. I will also post the assignment on my website. You can access the site by visiting onteora.schoolwires.com, and navigating to my page. The assignment is due on the first day of class (no exceptions).
I hope you enjoy your book, your summer and this class next year.
S. Jason Calinda
Summer Reading List for U.S. History H Below is a list of books covering different topics in U.S. History. Your task is to choose one of the books and write a book review. I have attached the book review assignment to your acceptance letter, and it is also located on my website. The book review is one of two summer assignments for AP U.S. History. Both assignments are due on the first day of class (No Exceptions). THE SCARLETT LETTER- Nathaniel Hawthorne
THIRTEEN DAYS: THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS –ROBERT KENNEDY
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM X—MALCOLM X (WITH ALEX HALEY)
FEMININE MYSTIQUE—BETTY FRIEDAN
THE QUIET AMERICAN – GRAHAM GREENE
RUMOR OF WAR—PHILIP CAPUTO
A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES—HOWARD ZINN
SILENT SPRING—RACHEL CARSON
THE IRAN-CONTRA CONNECTION—JANE HUNTER
GEORGE BUSH’S WAR—JEAN EDWARD SMITH
A book review is not the same thing as a book report, which simply summarizes the content of a book. When writing a book review, you not only report on the content of the book but also assess its strengths and weaknesses. Students sometimes feel unqualified to write a book review; after all, the author of the book is a professional historian. However, even if you cannot write from the same level of experience and knowledge as the author, you can write an effective review if you understand what the assignment requires. In writing a review you do not just relate whether or not you liked the book; you also tell your readers why you liked or disliked it. It is not enough to say, "This book is interesting"; you need to explain why it is interesting. Similarly, it is not enough to report that you disliked a book; you must explain your reaction. Did you find the book unconvincing because the author did not supply enough evidence to support his or her assertions? Or did you disagree with the book's underlying assumptions?
To understand your own reaction to the book, you need to read it carefully and critically.
As a critical reader, you are not passive; you should ask questions of the book and note reactions as you read. Your book review then discusses those questions and reactions. Though there is no "correct" way to structure a review, the following is the approach you will use to complete the assignment.
Summarize the book and relate the author's main point, or thesis. (Somewhere early in the paper identify the author briefly.) [One paragraph]
Describe the author's viewpoint and purpose for writing; note any aspects of the author's background that are important for understanding the book. [One paragraph]
Note the most important evidence the author presents to support his or her thesis. [Two paragraphs]
Evaluate the author's use of evidence, and describe how he or she deals with counter evidence [Two paragraphs]
Is the book's argument convincing? If so why, if not, why not. Cite examples from the text. [One to two paragraphs]
If possible, compare this book with other books or articles you have read on the same subject. [One paragraph]
Conclude with a final evaluation of the book. You might discuss who would find this book useful and why. [One paragraph]
NOTE: "Critical" does not mean negative; skeptical does not mean cynical. If a book is well written and presents an original thesis supported by convincing evidence, say so. A good book review does not have to be negative; it does have to be fair and analytical.