Modern European History Honors BOOK REVIEW 2015 / Pizzone

BOOK REVIEW 2015 / Pizzone
Modern European History Honors
For your summer assignment, you will read a book and begin building a book review (write an outline) about a
book that focuses on a specific event, time period, biography, or aspect of European history from a time period
any where between the Renaissance to contemporary Europe. It is important to select a book that is of interest to
you! This means that you should read the forward, a published book review (see NOTE below), and/or part of
chapter one before you make a final decision.
Between 800 - 1200 typed words.
Book selection/approval:
Select your book shortly after the start of the summer and email me your
selection by Monday, July 20 for approval.
Important Deadlines:
The book approval is due via email on July 20, the outline is due the
first day of class and the book review is due the first class that we
meet in October.
Outline of the review:
This is an outline of your review, not an outline of the book.
Final Book Review:
Again, the book review must be no less than 800 words and no more
than 1200 words and follow the appropriate guidelines for academic
*Your final grade will be based on submitting all three parts of the book review on or before the deadlines.
Also, superb quality is needed based on the guidelines on, “How to Write the History Book Review”, which is
included below and will be explained fully in class.
For examples of book reviews, look in the following places (some of these will refer you to the specific
periodical where the book review is located)
The Book Review Digest
The Book Review Index (this is only an index, so you must locate the review in it’s entirety)
Contemporary Literature Criticism
New York Times Book Review
Essay & General Literature
New York Review of Books
Humanities Index Book Review Digest
There are many different formats for writing a book review. Most formats contain a proper INTRODUCTION
and the TOPICS OF DISCUSSION IN THE BOOK REVIEW. Use the format described below, and when in
doubt, please ask! Always use specific examples from the book to support anything that you write about .
Finally, there are some tips to follow on FORM for the book review. Highest grades will be given to the reviews
that include all of the required parts, a clear understanding of the author’s thesis in a well written, interesting
This introductory paragraph needs to include the title of the book, the author(s), and the date when it was
published. Then briefly, touch on the 4 items below, keeping in mind that this is only an intro and that you will
develop this later in the analysis and in the evaluation parts.
1. What is the author trying to accomplish?
2. What is the author’s thesis (hypothesis)?
3. How does the author go about trying to reach the goal intended?
4. How successful is the author in reaching the goal?
Completely develop:
 What the author is trying to accomplish…
 What the author’s thesis (hypothesis) is…
 How he/she goes about trying to reach the goal intended…
 How successful he/she is in reaching the goal…
 Give a very brief explanation of the plot (if there is one), or the “flow of the book.”
 Explain how the length of the book is appropriate, or not
 Describe the form that the book is written and WHY it is written in that form; eg.
journal, diary, biography, chronological history, correspondence, reflections alternating with
narrative, etc.
 Describe whether the language is scholarly and difficult to understand, or
whether it is written for the layman, relaxed and simple - or whether the
audience is some other specific group and WHY the author did this.
 Describe any extra features the book has like charts, illustrations, maps,
reproductions, etc., and WHY the author included them.
 Evaluate why the author has written this book (this is an expansion from the
first paragraph); some reasons may be to convert, to warn, to present a unique way of looking
at the topic, etc. (there is always a reason and be specific here; for example to say that the author
wants to explain his/her topic is not detailed enough).
 Evaluate whether the author is objective or prejudiced toward the major subject of
his/her book; (this does not simply mean that the author has a point of view, but that he/she is
emotionally biased preventing an accurate historical assessment); give evidence from the book to
support your position on this issue.
 Evaluate how the treatment of the subject is or is not a function of the time
period when the book was written; eg. feminist books written during the
1970’s, Jefferson books written after scientific evidence proved his paternity
to Sally Hemings’ children, etc.
 Find a book review for this book to see how the historical/literary world viewed this book.
Explain, with specifics from the book review, the conclusion of the historian (use the name of
the writer of the book review) who reviewed the book and why he/she believed that.
 Use specifics from the book to show how the author has succeeded or not succeeded in his/her
purpose for writing this book.
 THE SMALLEST PART - Give your personal, informed reaction to the book, but
be sure to back up your opinion with specific examples from the book . Do
not simply say that the book was thrilling or boring without explaining
WHY. Be sure that you do not show a lack of knowledge on the subject here. You will
probably need to do some outside research about the subject or the author to write an informed
The TOPICS OF DISCUSSION (Analysis, Description, & Interpretation/Evaluation) need to be divided
into several paragraphs, and it will definitely flow better if you integrate these items into a narrative rather than
writing on each one separately.
 Summarize the author’s intention and his/her success in realizing that intention. The concluding
paragraph is somewhat of a mirror of the introductory paragraph but you must also include why
and how your book relates to current issues in the world today and what “real life” skills and
information we can learn from your book and topic.
1. Have a plain white piece of paper as the title page with a complete bibliographic citation (use MLA
style) for the book as your title. Your name, date, and class period should be centered with a two
inch margin at the bottom.
2. Write in the 3rd person and be consistent. Avoid such phrases as “in my opinion”, and “I
feel.” You can refer to yourself as “the author” of the paper.
3. Document direct quotes with a parenthetical reference (ask if you don’t know how to do
4. Discuss the book and the author in the PRESENT tense, but use the PAST tense
when referring to actual historical occurrences.
5. Include a bibliography at the end of all sources used (use MLA format).
6. If you have a question, please ask ME!
7. Keep in mind that this paper is between 800-1200 words. Double space (always) and type
in 12 point, Times New Roman font with 1” margins. I will stop reading at 1200 words and under
800 will be reflected in a lower grade.
Suggested Modern European History Book List
(These books are readily available through the Livingston Public Library or
accessible via the Essex County Library System)
Renaissance and Reformation
Tudors by Peter Ackroyd
Tudor: Passion, Manipulation, Murder. The Story of Englands Most Notorious Royal Family by Leanda
Brunelleschi’s Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture by Ross King
Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King
1603: The Death of Queen Elizabeth I, the Return of the Black Plague, the Ride of Shakespeare, Piracy,
Witchcraft and the Birth of the Stuart Era by Christopher Lee
A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara Tuchman
The Princes in the Tower by Allison Weir
The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir
Shakespeare’s Restless World: A Portrait of and Era in Twenty Objects by Neil MacGregor
Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution
The Seashell on the Mountaintop: A Story of Science, Sainthood, and the Humble Genious who Discovered a
New History of the Earth by Alan Cutler
Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman
The Great Fire of London: In That Apocalyptic Year, 1666 by Neil Hanson
Peter the Great: His Life and World by Robert Massie
Longitude: True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time by Dava Sobel
Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love by Dava Sobel
Blood Work: A Tale of Medicine and Murder in the Scientific Revolution by Holly Tucker
Revolution and Upheaval
The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic and How it Changed Science, Cities, and the
Modern World by Steven Johnson
The Lost King of France: How DNA Solved the Mystery of the Murdered Son of Louis XVI and Marie
Antoinette by Deborah Cadbury
Napoleon and the Hundred Days by Stephen Coote
Napolean’s Marshalls by R.F. Delderfield
Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser
Perilous Question: Reform or Revolution? Britain on the Brink, 1832 by Antonia Fraser
The Last Days of the Romanovs: Tragedy at Ekaterinburg by Helen Rappaport
The Proud Tower by Barbara Tuchman
Becoming Queen Victoria: The Tragic Death of Princess Charlotte and the Unexpected Rise of Britain’s
Greatest Monarch by Kate Williams
Three Who Made a Revolution: A Biographical History of Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin by Bertram Wolfe
World War I
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Luisitania by Erik Larson
Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain
The End of Tsarist Russia: The March to World War I and Revolution by Dominic Lieven
World War II
48 Hours of Kristallnacht: Night of Destruction/Dawn of the Holocaust by Mitchell Bard
Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hilter’s Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Year Zero: A History of 1945 by Ian Burma
Pack of Thieves: How Hitler and Europe Plundered the Jews and Committed the Greatest Theft in History by
Richard Chesnoff
Hitler’s Olympics: The 1936 Berlin Olympic Games by Christopher Hilton
Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi
The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan
Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman
Cold War
Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956
A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal by Ben Macintyre
Age of Delirium: The Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union by David Satter
Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Contemporary Europe
Why Bosnia?: Writings on the Balkan War by Rabia Ali
The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin by Masha Gessen
The United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy by T.R. Reid