Essay Format Instructions
1. All essays should be one page, typed, single-spaced, using the Times New Roman font style, and a 12-point font size.
2. Book review essays are also one-page, typed, single-spaced, Times New Roman, 12-point font.
3. Use *only* Microsoft Word format.
1.These instructions are intended as a guide to the preparation of book reviews and book critiques. They will be most useful if studied before the readings are undertaken .2. These instructions are not intended to serve as the outline or organizational format of your review or critique, because different books call for different forms of review and evaluation.
3. Give a brief summary or discussion of the nature of the book. Do not outline the detailed contents. Instead, ask yourself these questions: What is the field covered by the book? (e.g., the French Revolution) What is the book's scope? (e.g., a complete study of the whole French revolutionary period) Is the book primarily a narrative, or is it primarily analytical or interpretive? (e.g., Smoot's book is a new interpretation of the long-term influence of Robespierre on the development of the French Revolution) What is the author's purpose in writing this book? What is his attitude or philosophy? What is the central theme or thesis of the book? (This is usually found in the opening remarks, such as an introduction, prologue, prelude, etc.) What does the author emphasize? What major conclusions are drawn by the author? Is the author attempting to disprove some traditional idea on the subject? Is she attempting to present additional evidence in support of some previously stated thesis? What do you consider the most important message delivered by the author? What is the most interesting character or episode in the book, and why?
4. To the best of your ability, relate the book to the general course of European history. Where does it fit in? What new light does it throw on European (or some other) history in general? In what way does it throw new light on European (or other) history? In order to answer these questions, students should draw upon their knowledge of history, from whatever sources it may have been acquired-from study in high school or college, from general historical or literary readings, from a text book or class notes in the course, from discussions with other students or associated, or from experience and observation.
5. Make a critical evaluation of the book. Do not merely say it is interesting or uninteresting, important or unimportant. Discuss its merits and flaws, why you like or dislike it, why you believe it is important or unimportant. Do you disagree with any or all of it? Does it run counter to the ideas of the other writers in whom you have confidence? Does the author's evidence support his conclusions? Is this evidence presented with logic and reason? Is it a convincing book? Do you feel the author has omitted material or ideas that would have affected the conclusions or would have thrown additional light on the subject? Do organization and style combine to give the book clarity and forcefulness? Does it contain evidence, either explicit or implicit, of a bias on the part of the author? On this last point, the reader may sometimes be tipped off to a writer's prejudice simply by the intemperance of her language in discussing an issue. Or, consider such situations as these: Would you feel it likely that a biography of Robespierre or Napoleon written by a defeated opponent would be impartial and fair? A history of Britain published by a former French or German general or politician? A biography of some controversial figure written by a near relative? A biography of Admiral, Lord Nelson or Feldmarschal Erwin Rommel written by a former staff officer?
6.Bear in mind you are writing an essay, not merely a description or synopsis.Make your composition as analytical (or interpretive if applicable) as possible. This demands more than a hasty or superficial reading of the book; it demands reflection on the book's contents.
7. Avoid vagueness in your exposition. There is no substitute for clarity. Always support your generalizations with specific facts. If, for example, you say a book throws new light on the causes or effects of the French Revolution, then you must give a brief discussion of this new light, including specific examples/illustrations of what you mean.
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