Book Review 101

Just a tip from an editor to those who might want to write book reviews. For academic reviews, yes, it’s great if you have an authorial voice and offer incisive analysis. But, first, (1) provide an overall picture of the author’s work. What’s he or she known for, if at all? Then, (2) summarize the book. You don’t need to do this with the “In the first chapter… Then in the second chapter… Then in the third chapter…” type of summary, but that’s better than no summary at all. (3) Make sure to leave behind crumbs to eat up later as you enter your critical section on what is promising or deflating about the work… Remember your readers: is this a Hegel journal? Then you can take some concepts for granted. But if it’s RPR, then we’re working across various venn diagrams of intersecting interest and so defining terms and concepts is important. It even helps when a person’s work is well known, since people might know parts, but you might be able to offer a savvy pass-key tying together that person’s disparate works.