Dead Wake by Larson
3 doubled space pages
Determine the purpose of the book and the intended audience. The best place to determine both purpose and audience is usually in the preface, foreword, or introduction. What demand did the author intend to fulfill with the book? Did the author write because there was no satisfactory work available on the subject? Did the writer feel that he or she had a new point of view on a well-worn topic? Perhaps the author wrote a popular account of a subject about which previous works had been dull and dry. Ascertaining the author’s purpose is important. The writer should be judged by whether he or she achieved what he or she set out to accomplish. Also determine the audience for which the work is intended. Was the work directed mainly at professional historians, college students, or the general public? 3. Learn the author’s qualifications and viewpoint. Find out the author’s academic background. Is the author a journalist, a professor, or a professional writer? Has this writer published other books on related topics? Consult your library catalog; check Who’s Who in America, Contemporary Authors, Directory of American Scholars, or other directories. Viewpoint, however, is generally more important than credentials, since an author must be judged mainly by the quality of the particular work you are examining. A Pulitzer Prize winner may later write an undistinguished book. But many first books, often derived from the author’s doctoral dissertations, are outstanding. Knowing the author’s point of view, however, may put a reader on guard for certain biases. A Marxist historian will often write from a predictable perspective, as will an extreme rightist. Biographers are often biased for or against their subjects. For example, after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, many of his intimates, most notably Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. wrote biographical works. A reviewer could not adequately analyze Schlesinger’s Thousand Days without knowing something about his close relationship with the slain president. Look for information on point of view in prefatory materials, in the body of the book, and in reference works with entries about the author. The best place to find information on authors is in the Contemporary Authors database by Gale. Here’s how to get there: From Houston Community College Homepage click on Library. Next click Find. Next select Article Databases. Next Databases listed in Alphabetical Order. Next Contemporary Authors. You will then be asked for your library card number and once you enter it you will be in the database. Once in the database simply fill in the authorâ€s name and you will receive a wealth of info about him/her.
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