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Critical Book Reviews: Evaluate Reviews

Short guide to resources and structure of writing a critical book review

Research Strategy

  • What relevant details does the reviewer provide about who the author is; and where they stand in their genre or field of inquiry?
  • What context or framework does the reviewer consider in his/her review?  Example:  A philosopher reviewing the book in the context of philosophy, comparing the book to other similar books.
  • What is the thesis of the book?  Does the reviewer identify the book's originality, angle, novelty, showiing the specific contribution the piece is making?


Examples of Critical Book Reviews

Examples of Critical Book Reviews:


These examples are from a journal aimed specifically at scientists in Biology. These reviews are not geared to general audiences so the language may be hard for the general public to understand.

Two examples of book reviews from the New York Times Book Review:

I include the following two reviews because they are reviews of science-oriented books and because the NYT Book Review is a popular supplement that many people read. Thus, the style and content of these reviews are for general audiences and should give you a good idea of the level you should be writing at.

  • The Unraveling, a review by Peter Dizikes of the book A Life Decoded, written by J. Craig Venter.
  • Look Who's Talking, a review by Emily Eakin of the book The First Work written by Christine Kennelaly.

    Last updated November 27, 2007
    © William P. Clement 2007