Evaluation of Book Reviews
Click here for some sample reviews.
Format is critical in a book review. Read this
page carefully, and abide by the formatting conventions for a book
review. Reviews submitted in the incorrect format will be returned
The functions of
a book view are: (1) to provide an accurate and succinct
account of the thesis argued by the author, and (2) a critical evaluation of the author's argument. Since reviews are limited
to 1000-2000 words, concise and highly focused description is imperative.
You cannot afford to waste space on matters peripheral to the main
thesis or in needless repetition.
outlining the author's thesis, one cannot rehearse all of her/his
arguments, but it is important to give enough of the main points so
that the reader of the review can both understand the substance of
the argument and can appreciate your evaluation. Write as if your
imaginary reader has not yet read the book, but needs to know
whether it is worth reading. This means that you must explain the
author's project, outline his/her methods and approach, and provide
a representative sample
of conclusions. The summary of
the book should occupy about two-thirds of the
Critical evaluation means engaging the author's
project and commenting (approvingly or otherwise) on the (a)
method(s) adopted by the author, (b) her/his use of evidence, (c)
the cogency of the author's conclusions, and/or (d) the value of the
author's project. Since you do not have space to evaluate every
argument, it is wise to select two or three major points
made by the author, and comment on these, explaining why in your
view they are convincing or unconvincing.
review is not the place for venting one's own theories; ad hominem
attacks should be avoided. The review should be fair to the author's
stated intention. It is not fair to criticize the author for not
doing what she/he never intended to do. Nor should matters
peripheral to the author's argument receive excessive
book review is the place for brief
comment on layout & design, typography, binding and price, but
normally only when there are an excessive number of misprints or a
disproportionately high price, given the nature of the
critical evaluation should occupy about one-third of the
not use a title page . Instead, at the top of
the first page provide the full publication data of the
book under review. E.g.,
Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus: The Life of a
Mediterranean Jewish Peasant. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancico,
1991. Cloth. Pp. xxxiv + 507. ISBN 0-06-061607-5.
Do not use footnotes. Normally, you
should not quote extensively in the book review. If there is some
sentence or phrase that is particularly apt, you may wish to quote
it; in this case, insert that page reference after the quotation.
E.g., Crossan characterizes the Jesus movement as "hippies in a
world of Augustan yuppies" (p. 421). If you cite other literature,
the full bibliographical reference should be included as an in-text
citation. E.g., As Joachim Jeremias (The Parables of Jesus
[revised ed.; London: SCM, 1971] 233) has shown....
name goes at the end of the review.
85-90: Outstanding. Precise and concise précis of the
book. A critical evaluation which reflects a grasp of central
methodological, evidentiary and/or evaluative issues, and the
ability to situate the author's work in the broader context of
80-84 Outstanding. As “A” but may be slightly lacking
in either the précis or in the evaluative
This grade normally indicates that the précis is accurate and
concise and there is good evidence of critical evaluation,
but the evaluative component could be better focused, or
Generally accurate account and analysis of the contents; some
70-73 Superior. As
"B" but somewhat lacking in detail, balance, careful analysis,
argument or critical reasoning.
67-69 Good. Adequate précis of the contents, but may be
diffuse or unbalanced so that important aspects of the thesis are
omitted. Little in the way of critical engagement with the
The précis is generally adequate though it is perhaps unbalanced or
insufficiently detailed or impressionistic. No
real critical evaluation.
Deficient in both the précis and the
Sloppy, imprecise or careless summary; no