History 243 – Foundations of the United States
Section(s) 301 – H & J
Book Review Guide
This guide should provide you with all of the necessary information to do well on the assigned book reviews.
Students are required to complete a book review of two of the three assigned books. Students are welcome to complete reviews for all three books. Only the reviews with the two best grades will count towards a student’s final grade.
The required books and the due dates for their reviews are:
- Carol Berkin. First Generations: Women in Colonial America (New York, Hill and Wang, 1997) ISBN: 0809016060 $16.00
REVIEW IS DUE: 2/29/2012
- Paul E. Johnson & Sean Wilentz. The Kingdom of Matthias: A Story of Sex and Salvation in 19th Century America (New York, Oxford University Press, 1994) ISBN: 9780195098358 $19.99
REVIEW IS DUE” 4/16/2012
- James Oakes. The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics (New York, W.W. Norton, 2007) ISBN: 9780393330656 $17.95
REVIEW IS DUE: 5/9/2012
Each review should between 2 – 4 FULL pages – a full page means more than one paragraph per page. Writing a review of shorter than two FULL pages will have a significant negative impact on the paper’s grade.
Each review should be double spaced, 12-point Times New Roman or similar font with standard page margins. Please do not play any games with the margins or font. Not following these formatting rules will have a significant negative impact on the paper’s grade.
Any paper that is plagiarized, in anyway, will get a failure for the assignment. A second instance of plagiarism will result in automatic failure of the course. Please see your Student Handbook for a clear definition of the plagiarism and academic dishonesty. Again, plagiarism WILL NOT BE TOLERATED in any form.
The book review is due at the beginning of the class meeting in which we are discussing the respective book (see above listing).
Students will be expected to address the following in their papers:
- What is the book about and what is the author’s argument (thesis)? (5 points)
- What sources does the author use? (5 points)
- How does the author’s argument (thesis) address the history we have discussed in class? (5 points)
- What is your overall opinion of the book? (5 points)
A more detailed explanation of each requirement is found below:
What is the book about and what is the author’s argument?
Students are expected to provide an overall synopsis of the author’s argument and the book’s content. Students should discuss the Who, What, Where, and When of the assigned book in their reviews. Thus students should explain what time period the book covers (the Civil War, the American Revolution, etc.), what historical actors (men, women, slaves, etc.) the author discusses, and what geographical location(s) the book covers. Additionally, in their review the student should address what argument they believe the author is making about the past.
What sources does the author use?
In their review the student should discuss what sources the author uses to make their argument. Such sources include things like government reports, diaries, novels, newspapers, material objects (like tools, clothing, etc.), fashion, interviews, and other survivals from the past.
How does the author’s argument address the history we have discussed in class?
Students should relate, in their reviews, how the book relates to the history we have discussed in class. Topics we’ve covered in class – like European relations with Native Americans, the coming the American Revolution, the development of slavery, and cultural change over time – should be related to what is discussed in the book under review.
What is your overall opinion of the book?
In the end of their reviews students should provide their overall assessment of the book. Students are welcome to have any opinion of the book under review but in their reviews students should back up their opinions analytically. Making facile statements like “the book was too long” or “boring” will negatively impact the review’s grade.