Book Review Guideline


1.1 The values and types of reviews
A book review is a special kind of academic writing as scholars write reviews of new publications in their field of expertise. Reading reviews is a valuable means of keeping abreast of the vast body of literature being published. As so many works are published each year, it is impossible to read every work in a field and thus by reading good reviews, one can keep track of the latest research.

Book reviews fall into two types: descriptive and critical. Descriptive reviews simply summarize a book. The interest of EJRSSH lies in the critical review. Critical reviews describe and evaluate books. The reviewer critiques it against accepted standards and supports his evaluations with evidence

1.2 Expected attribute of a review

• The review should introduce the reader to the book’s content and focus on the subject of the book being reviewed.

• Include an exposition of how the book fits into the current thinking on the subject (e.g., a novel approach, an introduction, a magisterial review, the finest book on the subject ever written, etc.).

• Avoid repeating its table of contents; rather, give readers some idea of the author’s thesis and how he/she develops it.

• If the book is an edited collection of essays, or chapters by different individuals, give some idea of the overall theme and content, but be free to focus on specific chapters you consider particularly significant or worthwhile.

• Inform readers about what is happening in the area of academic activity the book addresses; what the state of knowledge is in the subject; and how this new book adds, changes, or breaks new ground in our knowledge of this subject.

1.2.1 The review should be fair to the author

• Tell readers why the author took many months to write the book, who is the intended audience, and how the author handles his/her material.

• Convey the content of the book, not chapter by chapter so much as the entire book.

• Add flavor to the review by including pungent or revealing quotations from the book or notable facts or findings.

• Be specific. Give details. Try not to be too abstract or vague (e.g., avoid writing “interesting observations,” “lots of arresting data “or” a strange view of campus design” unless you complement this with specific examples).

1.2.2 A reviewer should submerge his/her own opinions or reaction

• Write the review about the book and its contribution to the subject, not about the reviewer’s feelings on having read the book.

• Do not tell the author what book you feel he/she should have written.

• The reviewer’s appraisal is valuable, but this should be quite secondary.

1.2.3 A reviewer should establish his/her authority to write the review

• Do not point out the author’s flaws, but display in a detailed and instructive way your expertise on the subject.

• Strive to make your review richly informative, even insightful.

• The finest reviews are extraordinarily understanding and moderately generous (but not uncritical), and they are enlightening little essays in their own right.

• There is no substitute for a careful reading of the book itself. Judgments about a book’s usefulness and scholarly value based on a close reading of the text make the heart of a good review

1.3 Contents of the review

  1. Introductory Paragraph. Situate the author and the book within larger scholarly frames of reference. What is at stake here? Why should scholars of area be interested in this work? Grab the reader’s attention right away, locating the book in established debates and controversies.
  2. Get to the point right away. It is important to try to explicitly state the primary argument of the book. For example, “Abebe’s main argument revolves around/centers on/is…” What is the larger point of this book and why should readers care?
  3. Getting at the scaffolding of the larger argument of the book. Answering the following questions can help you fill out the middle of the review: What are the lesser arguments (key findings, terms, theories, or ideas) that led up to the larger argument in the book? What is the evidence that the author relies on to make her/his/their case? How do these smaller arguments relate to the larger issue or idea with which
    the book is concerned? Ensure that as you answer these questions in your review, you are enumerating them in a way that readers will be able to follow the plan of the book. A good rule to try to follow is to present authors’ findings in ways that you believe the author would find it fair.
  4. After explaining to readers what the book is actually about – you can state whether or not you are convinced by the author’s arguments? Presenting critiques in fair and kind ways goes a long way here. But, it is a chance for you to disagree with the claims of the book if you feel they are inaccurate, overstated, misguided, or something else. Conversely, this is also a space in which you can explain why you loved the book, and what specifically you found so interesting, convincing, or revolutionary about the
    argument or idea.
  5. Concluding Paragraph – Exit a review by returning to the biggest issues at stake in the book. Suggest what is yet to be done in this field or stress the accomplishments of this book. Readers ought to finish your review with a good sense of where this book fits with other work in the field. You provide this information to help the reader situate the book relative to ongoing theory and research.

1.4 Style and Format

The general format for book reviews at ERJSSH:
a. No cover page. Instead, at the top of the first page of your review, provide the following information:

o Author(s) or editor(s) first and last name(s) (please indicate if it is an edited book)
o Title of book
o Year of publication
o Place of publication
o Publisher
o Number of pages
o Price (please indicate paperback or hard cover) if available

For example:
Michael Kimmel
Manhood in America: A Cultural History (fourth edition). New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2017. 400 pp. $49.95 (paper). ISBN: 9780190612535.1

b. Standard length is approximately 800 to 900 words for a single book of 150-200 ages; 1000 to 1250 words for a book of 200-250 pages; 1300-1500 words for 300-350 page books.
c. You should use standard 12 font size, 1.5 line space and standard margins (1 inch on each side and top and bottom of the page).
d. Do not number the first page of the review, but do number subsequent pages.
e. Justify the left and the right margins.
f. Limit quotations from the book to no more than two lines of text and limit the number of quotations you use. Put the page number of the quotation immediately at the conclusion of the sentence containing the quotation.
g. After skipping three lines at the end of the review, please include: your first and last name, institution affiliation, and a brief biographical note.