In the introductory paragraph, you should aim to offer both a very brief summary of the book’s
content and an indication of your overall evaluation. Aim to formulate a key observation on the
text: this will be your thesis and will help you to structure the rest of your essay. In your
description of the content, you should highlight the author’s major arguments, concepts,
themes and ideas. While you can quote directly from the book (always give the page
number!), these quotes should be kept to a minimum. Instead, describe and explain the
material in your own words.
You can either choose to interweave the description of the book’s content with your critique,
or treat these topics separately. A critique consists of thoughts, responses, and reactions, and
is not necessarily negative. Obviously, simple value judgments are not sufficient: you need to
be able to justify and support your position.
Be careful to:
– Describe the author’s purpose, and whether you think he has succeeded.
– Set out the author’s arguments and main themes, and evaluate whether these are valid
– Highlight the sources and evidence used by the author to prove his case, and evaluate
their appropriateness and sufficiency.
– Comment on the organization and writing style.
In a concluding paragraph, make more general remarks about the text and indicate whether
the book is worthwhile, and for whom.
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