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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:

Central European History; English Historical Review; German History; Historische Zeitschrift; History: The Journal of the Historical Association; Journal of Early Modern History; Sixteenth Century Journal ...

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)
  • '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:

  • Brennan, Thomas, Public Drinking and Popular Culture in Eighteenth-Century Paris (Princeton, 1988)
  • Clark, Peter, The English Alehouse. A Social History 1200-1830 (London, New York, 1983)
  • Hailwood, Mark, Alehouses and Good Fellowship in Early Modern England (Woodbridge, 2014)
  • Kümin, Beat and Tlusty, B. Ann (eds), The World of the Tavern: Public Houses in Early Modern Europe (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002)
  • Martin, A. Lynn, Alcohol, Sex and Gender in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001) and/or his Alcohol, Violence and Disorder in Traditional Europe (Kirksville, 2009)
  • Tlusty, B.Ann, Bacchus and Civic Order: The Culture of Drink in Early Modern Germany (Charlottesville: U. of Virginia Press, 2001)