Book Review Guidelines


As indicated in your syllabus, this book review is worth 15% of your final grade in this course.  The most important element about the book review to remember is that it is a commentary, not merely a summary. Simply present a brief outline or synopsis, indicating the general topic, the chronological scope, the major emphasis (sociological, criminological, political, economic, intellectual). Accordingly, a very general outline for the book review is the following: 


I.          Brief introduction

II.         Description of contents

III.       Assessment of value

IV.        Comparison with Jankowski

V.         Conclusion



Here are some general questions to keep in mind when conducting your book review.


What is the overall thesis of the author?

What are the author’s reasons for writing this book?

What evidence is cited to support author’s arguments? Is the evidence convincing? why? why not?

Does the book present a novel interpretation based on previously available documents?

Did the book enhance your understanding of critical issues as interpreted by sociologists or criminologists?

Has the book challenged you intellectually, increasing your sociological/criminological knowledge, or “sociological imagination” raising new questions, and/or presenting material in a provocative manner?


****Do not try to make more points than can be accomplished thoroughly in your review. It is better to make a few points well than many points poorly. Once you have decided on the central points you intend to make, treat each one as a separate section of your review. Each section should explain the one point, supporting it with your own arguments and with brief specific examples from the book under review while drawing conclusions as to the meaning and importance of the point.

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