Writing A Book Review
In a book review, you must describe, analyze and react to the arguments put forward by the author. You must accurately report the argument(s) of the book, as in an abstract or synopsis, but unlike in an abstract, you must also place the arguments in context and critically assess them. In general, you should answer all or most of the following questions:
- Why is this book important?
- What are its main points?
- How do the author's arguments relate to one or more economic theories?
- How does the book relate to the current or past economic environment, conditions or policy?
- What evidence, if any, is cited in support of the arguments?
- Is the evidence appropriate evidence? Is it convincing?
- What, if anything, is missing from the book?
The Structure and Format of a Book Review
I. The Heading
Title. Author. Place of publication: publisher, date of publication. Number of pages.
Reviewed by (your name)
II. The Introduction
The introduction starts with a statement of the theme of the book, and lets your readers know what the review will say. It must therefore include a very brief overview of the contents of the book, the purpose of, or audience for the book, and a brief summary of your reaction and evaluation.
III. The Context
Place the book in theoretical, policy and/or historical context. You might also discuss what are reasonable criteria for judging the book.
IV. Summary of the Argument and Evidence
This is very much like the summary you might write in an abstract or synopsis. Attempt to put the author's argument in its best light. Summarize it fairly, without inserting your own views. You might want to quote or paraphrase key passages from the book. Avoid plagiarism by placing quotation marks around quotes and placing the page number from which the quote or paraphrase comes in parentheses immediately afterwards.
V. Evaluation of the Argument and Evidence
This is the heart of the book review and where your views come into play. Remember that you may not be able to express fully your own views. The point of the book review is to present a critical reading of someone else's work, not to give a full exposition of your own work. Carefully distinguish your views from the author's.
Finish with a conclusion which ties together issues raised in the review and provides a concise comment on the book.
VII. Works Cited
Should you cite a work other than that under review, give full bibliographic information on it.