The questions the prof wants answered are below for the review. Use subheadings answer each.
READING THE BOOK
As you’re reading or preparing to write the review, ask yourself these questions:
What are the author’s viewpoint and purpose?
The viewpoint or purpose may be implied rather than stated, but often a good place to look for what the author says about his or her purpose and viewpoint is the introduction or preface.
What are the author’s main points?
Again, these will often be stated in the introduction.
What kind of evidence does the author use to prove his or her points? Is the evidence convincing?
Why or why not? Does the author support his or her points adequately?
How does this book relate to other books on the same topic?
Is the book unique? Does it add new information? What group of readers, if any, would find this book most useful?
Does the author have the necessary expertise to write the book?
What are the most appropriate criteria by which to judge the book? How successful do you think the author was in carrying out the overall purposes of the book?
Depending on your book’s purpose, you should select appropriate criteria by which to judge its success. Use any criteria your instructor has given you in lecture or on your assignment sheet. Otherwise, here are some criteria to consider. For example, if an author says his or her purpose is to argue for a particular solution to a public problem, such as school reform or international relations, then the review should judge whether the author has defined the problem, identified causes, planned points of attack, provided necessary background information and offered specific solutions. A review should also indicate the author’s professional expertise.
In other books, however, authors may argue for their theory about a particular phenomenon. Reviews of these books should evaluate what kind of theory the book is arguing for, how much and what kind of evidence the author uses to support his/her scholarly claims, how valid the evidence seems, how expert the author is, and how much the book contributes to the knowledge of the field.
WRITING THE BOOK REVIEW
Although you should include what you feel is appropriate for explaining your assessment of a book, reviews generally include the following kinds of information.
Most reviews start off with a heading that includes all the bibliographic information about the book. If your assignment sheet does not indicate which form you should use, you can use the following:
Title. Author. Place of publication: publisher, date of publication. Number of pages.
Like most pieces of writing, the review itself usually begins with an introduction that lets your readers know what the review will say. The first paragraph usually includes the author and title again, so your readers don’t have to look up to find the title. You should also include a very brief overview of the contents of the book, the purpose or audience for the book, and your reaction and evaluation.
Reviews then generally move into a section of background information that helps place the book in context and discusses criteria for judging the book.
Next, the review gives a summary of the main points of the book, quoting and paraphrasing key phrases from the author.
Finally, reviewers get to the heart of their writing—their evaluation of the book. In this section, reviewers discuss a variety of issues:
• how well the book has achieved its goal,
• what possibilities are suggested by the book,
• what the book has left out,
• how the book compares to others on the subject,
• what specific points are not convincing, and
• what personal experiences you’ve had related to the subject.