Writing Book Report

Your three -page, double-spaced critical book analyses will be presented in essay form, and must contain the following information.

Book MUST be about American History and related to a person or event. Biographies are your best bet.

 

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book title, author and publication information on first page.

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Decide on a few central points you want to make and strive for clarity in making those points.    Use two or three examples from the book to support each statement.

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Briefly indicate, in first paragraph or two, the general topic of the book, the chronological scope; the major emphasis, (politics, social history, biography, anthropology), which aspects have, in your opinion, been promoted or ignored by the author. 

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Remember that this is a commentary on a book, not an abstract of a book. Don’t retell the story. Summarize the high points in not more than 3 or 4 paragraphs.  A few quotes from the book are often useful & interesting.

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Read the book, take notes, and if you have done other research or homework on this topic, note briefly how this book compares to the other materials you have read.

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Has the author persuasively told the story? Has the book challenged you intellectually, increased your knowledge, and made you think new thoughts? 

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Does the author flip-flop, wander off topic, or hold a steady course?  If it is boring, what might have been done to make it more interesting? Did this book enhance your overall understanding of the topic?  Was it useful? Has the information in the book led you to reconsider your own previously held opinions about the topic?

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Is the book a primary document or an autobiography? Are there good illustrations, photographs and plates?  If it is not a primary document or autobiography, is the book carefully researched, and well-footnoted? Are there plenty of footnotes and a good bibliography?

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Understanding where an author is coming from helps the reader to make decisions about a book. See what you can find out about the author.  Is this author on a particular soapbox trying to win people to one side or another?  Does the author’s background color his/her viewpoint?   

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A paragraph at either the beginning or end of the three page analyses should contain a direct statement of your own thoughts about the book’s central idea or thesis: I highly recommend this book or  throw this book away or those who are interested in x, y& z will love this bookwhatever.

Be sure to include the relevant publishing information. Examples:

           

           Silver, Peter Rhoads. Our Savage Neighbors: How Indian War Transformed Early America. New York: W.W. Norton, 2008. Print.

 

 

             Burdick, Kim R. “I Remain Your Friend, Daniel Byrnes.” Hale-Byrnes House. Delaware Society for Preservation of Antiquity, 2011. Web. 23 June 2012. <http://www.halebyrnes.org/>. 

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