Book review

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History 261, Winter 2021 Crystal Fraser, Ph.D. 1
History 261 Book Review Details 25%
Students are responsible for writing a book review, 1500 to 2000 words in length (double
spaced), excluding footnotes. If you write fewer than 1500 words, you will be penalized. It is
suggested that students use the maximum amount of space provided to them (2000 words) to
do a full and excellent job. Please list your final word count, excluding footnotes, on your
cover page.
The assignment is intended to help students hone their scholarly analysis and critical thinking skills when responding to scholarly books. Students are expected to read the book, think about
its argument, and reflect on the efficacy of its claims. Students will first summarize the book.
Students will then analyze the article’s argument, discussing its key claims, the evidence that
was used to support them, and any issues that may have been overlooked. Students will be
graded on the clarity of their argument, their use of evidence from the reading to support their
claims, and their attention to detail in analyzing the work. A rubric is provided for marking clarity.

List of Books to Review (choose one):

Dummitt, Christopher. The Manly Modern: Masculinity in Postwar Canada (Vancouver: UBC
Press, 2007).
Korinek, Valerie. Prairie Fairies: A History of Queer Communities and People in Western
Canada, 1930-1985 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018).
Maynard, Robyn. Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present
(Halifax: Fernwood Publishing, 2017). ALBERTA LIBRARY IS UNFORTUNATELY UNABLE

McCallum, Mary Jane Logan. Indigenous Women, Work, and History, 1940-1980 (Winnipeg:

University of Manitoba Press, 2014).
Perrin, Jody. The Patriotic Consensus: Unity, Morale, and the Second World War in Winnipeg
(Manitoba: University of Manitoba Press, 2014).
Thobani, Sunera. Exalted Subjects: Studies in the Making of Race and Nation in Canada
(Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007).
Thistle, Jesse. From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way (New
York: Simon & Schuster, 2019).

Details to Consider Before Writing:

• What is the thesis—or main argument—of the book? If the author wanted you to get
one idea from the book, what would it be? How does it compare or contrast to the
world you know? What has the book accomplished?
History 261, Winter 2021 Crystal Fraser, Ph.D. 2
• What exactly is the subject or topic of the book? Does the author cover the subject
adequately? Does the author cover all aspects of the subject in a balanced fashion?
What is the approach to the subject (topical, analytical, chronological, descriptive)?
• How does the author support her argument? What evidence does she use to prove
her point? Do you find that evidence convincing? Why or why not? Does any of the
author’s information (or conclusions) conflict with other books you’ve read, courses
you’ve taken, or just previous assumptions you had of the subject?
• How does the author structure her argument? What are the parts that make up the
whole? Does the argument make sense? Does it persuade you? Why or why not?
• How has this book helped you understand the subject? Would you recommend the
book to your reader?

Beyond the internal workings of the book, you may also consider some information
about the author and the circumstances of the text’s production:

• Who is the author? Nationality, political persuasion, training, intellectual interests,
personal history, and historical context may provide crucial details about how a work
takes shape. Does it matter, for example, that the biographer was the subject’s best
friend? What difference would it make if the author participated in the events she
writes about?
• What is the book’s genre? Out of what field does it emerge? Does it conform to or
depart from the conventions of its genre? These questions can provide a historical or
literary standard on which to base your evaluations. If you are reviewing the first book
ever written on the subject, it will be important for your readers to know. Keep in mind,
though, that naming “firsts”—alongside naming “bests” and “only”—can be a risky
business unless you’re absolutely certain.
** Above excerpt taken from:
Assignment Submission
Please upload your assignment to eClass on the due date. Your assignments will be
accepted until 11:59 PM on the due date. Given the problems in eClass during Fall 2020
semester, I strongly recommend that you upload your file before 11:59 pm to accommodate for
eClass glitches or slow upload speeds. Assignments that are received after 11:59 PM will be
penalized by 10% per day (including weekends). Assignments later than three days will not be
accepted and given a grade of zero.
All files will be prepared as though you would be handing in a paper copy – you must include a
title page (listing your title, your name, and the course information and word count), numbered
pages, and a properly formatted document (double-spaced, 12pt New Times Roman font).
ONLY MS Word files will be accepted: .doc or .docx. MS Word software is available to all
UAlberta students, for free. This course uses the Chicago Manual of Style. All written work
History 261, Winter 2021 Crystal Fraser, Ph.D. 3
must be referenced in this manner, students should consult the information below for writing
When submitting, please name your file: LAST NAME, FIRST NAME BOOK TITLE.docx.
For instance, if I wrote a book review on From the Ashes, my file submission would
appear as follows: FRASER, CRYSTAL FROM THE ASHES.docx.
Your graded assignments will be uploaded to eClass for your viewing. After receiving your grade
from a marked assignment, please wait 24 hours before contacting me for additional feedback
or clarification. I will not respond to email queries about graded assignments until at least 24
hours have passed.
History 261, Winter 2021 Crystal Fraser, Ph.D. 4
Criteria Excellent
A+ to Avery Good
B+ to BGood
C+ to Clair
D+ to DPoor
Writing Style & Format
– Cover page (title, name, student ID
number, course name/number, professor,
word count)
– Use of correct page numbers, Chicago
Style footnotes & bibliography
– The student uses active verbs, a good
vocabulary, and no jargon
– Sentences vary in length and structure
and emphasize the material
– The writing is a pleasure to read and
clear, not awkwardly presented
Thesis Statement/Argument
– The argument is clearly articulated in the
– The argument runs throughout the body
– Evidence is used that supports the
– The argument is made clear in the
Evaluation of Book Structure
– Analysis of front and back matter
– Evaluation of bibliography and references
– Use of non-textual resources
– Identify other noteworthy observations
Evaluation of the Author’s Purpose,
Goals, & Methodology
– Explanation of the author’s purpose,
goals, and methodology
– Discussion of the positionality of the
author (gender, race, class, discipline, etc.)
– How the above factors should be
considered in light of the book’s content
Evaluation of the Content & Argument
– Examination of content and argument
– Use of critical analysis tools
– Depth of grasp of the material
– Incorporation of other materials in your
– Personal engagement with the materials
Overall Comments:

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