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Guide to Writing Book Reviews

For our purposes, an ideal book review should:

  • start with full bibliographic details of the book discussed in the heading;
  • summarise the structure, method and main points of the work, which may include some direct quotes (identified by inverted commas and the relevant page no following in round brackets);
  • discuss how the author's arguments fit into other writing on the subject;
  • comment on the range of sources used and how they contribute to the argument;
  • explain the strengths and weaknesses of the book from your point of view;
  • assess whether / how the work will advance relevant debates;
  • acknowledge other sources of information in footnotes and a bibliography.


It may be helpful to look at how other people have reviewed relevant books (such as those listed below) in scholarly journals (typically 1-3 years after the publication date), e.g:

  • Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte: Literaturbericht; Central European History; English Historical Review; German History; Historische Zeitschrift; History: The Journal of the Historical Association; Journal of Early Modern History; Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Geschichte; Sixteenth Century Journal; Zeitschrift für historische Forschung etc.
  • Hardcopies (and in many cases digital versions) of most of these periodicals are held by the UL (search for the respective journal title in the catalogue); an advanced search function for identifying reviews is available in JStor.


Many websites and discussion fora also offer reviews and related materials, see e.g.:

  • Guide to reviewers issued by the Humanities and Social Sciences internet platform H-Net (esp. passages on 'effectiveness', 'content', 'evaluation', 'professionalism')
  • 'H-German' (forum for historians of German-speaking Europe; in English)
  • 'H-Soz-u-Kult' (information platform for social and cultural historians; in German)
  • Historische Rezensionen online: searchable database of online reviews offered by the German history platform "Clio"
  • 'JStor' (database of articles and reviews from numerous journals)
  • 'Reviews in History' (compiled by the Institute of Historical Research in London)
  • 'Sehepunkte' (online review journal specializing in historical works; in German)

The following is not a definitive list but merely suggestive of books you might like to review. If you have other ideas please discuss them with your seminar tutor:

P. Blickle, The Communal Reformation (1992)

Th. A.Brady Jr, The Politics of the Reformation in Germany (1997)

O. Brunner, Land and Lordship (1995)

C. Scott Dixon, The Reformation and Rural Society (1994)

H.-J. Goertz, The Anabaptists (1996)

K. Hill, Baptism, Baptism, Brotherhood and Belief in Reformation Germany (2015)

H. A. Oberman, Luther: Man between God and Devil (1990)

L. Roper, The Holy Household. Women and Morals in Reformation Augsburg (1989)

U. Rublack, Reformation Europe (2005)

R. W. Scribner, Popular Culture and Popular Movements in Reformation Germany (1987)

G. Strauss, Luther's House of Learning (1979)



The Fuggerei almshouses founded by Jacob Fugger at Augsburg in 1516 [Picture source]