SBCC Stokley Speaks Black Pow

Guideline for a CriticalBook Review Prof. Cook Preliminary Considerations First, one must understand that a critical book review is not a book report (a summary of thecontents of a book). A critical book review is a vehicle for examining and discussing issues thebook itself raises or fails to raise. One writes a critical book review for the benefit of those whomight not presently have time to read the book but who nevertheless need to learn more aboutits basic approach should they desire to read or study it at afuture time. The job of the bookreviewer is to inform these readers concerning any merits and/or shortcomings the book mayhave. From information based on a wellwritten review, the reader may conclude that this bookis either indispensable or inconsequential.Components of a Critical Book ReviewA.Give complete bibliographical information at the top of the page (title, author, publisher,place of publication, date of publication, number of pages, and name of reviewer).Use the following format:Toward Rediscovering the Old Testament, by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. Grand Rapids: Zondervan,l987. 250 pages. Reviewed by Randy C. Slocum.B.Briefly state the reason this book was chosen for review. State the author’s credentials(education, place of employment, previous achievements, etc.) as a preface to giving the book aserious hearing. Biographical information about the author should be included only as itdemonstrates the authors competency to write the book. Within the context of the paper, donot usetitles (Dr., Rev., etc.). In most brief reviews, you will likely need to limit theintroduction to one or two paragraphs.C.Briefly (in one or two wellwritten sentences) summarize the thesis of the book.This is a crucial step because the thesis contains the reason why the author produced thisparticular book (there may be dozens on the market with similar subject matter).The thesis will state the author’s basic presuppositions and approach. The critical nature of thebook review will then grow from thereviewer’s conclusion that the book does or does notachieve the author’s stated purpose.D.The main body of a critical book review will be concerned with “thesis development.”That is, did the author achieve the stated purpose? In this section the reviewer will inspect eachof the chapters of the book to see how the thesis is (or is not) developed. If the author makesprogress and develops the thesis convincingly, providing adequate information and statisticaldata, the reviewer says so, providing concrete examples and citing their page numbers in thetext.Given the limited amount of space in a brief book review, footnotes should not be utilized.

Quotations or ideas taken directly from the text should be followed parenthetically by the page number of the quotation. The abbreviation for page(s) (p./pp.) should not be used.Example:Rainer argues that evangelistic churches should focus on reaching youth (20). Indeed, hewrites, Many churches fail to recognize that adolescence is a critical time of receptivity to thegospel(21).If the thesis is poorly developed or if the examples are inadequate to support the assertions of the author, the reviewer will point this out as well. Most critical book reviews will contain both praise and criticism, carefully weighed and balanced against one another.Remember the purpose of a critical book review is not to provide a summary of the book. You may assume that the professor and the graderknow the contents of the book.Questions the reviewer will seek to answerin this section might include:Is there an adequate, consistent development of the author’s stated thesis? Why or whynot?What is the authors purpose, i.e., what does he/she hope to accomplish through this book? Does the author accomplish the purpose? If so,how does he/she do so? If not,why not?Does the author approach the subject with any biases, i.e., do the authorstheological, experiential, philosophical, denominational, or cultural perspectives influence his/her conclusions?Does the author properly support his/her thesis? Does the author adequatelyconsider and refute opposing viewpoints? Is the book limited in application to specific types ofchurches? Is the book relevant to contemporary culture?Does the author have to resort to suppression of contrary evidence in order to make thethesis credible (slanting)? If so, what additional evidence would weaken the case?Is the thesis sound but marred by a flawed procedure?Is the author’s case proved, or would another thesis have been more appropriately chosen?E.Finally, a summary section should be attached. How does this book differ from other treatments of the same subject matter? What is unique and valuable about this approach as opposed to the others? Would the reviewer recommend this book above others? Why or why not?This final summary should include the major strengths and weaknesses of the book andevaluate its value for readers who may be interested in that particular field of inquiry. Your primary purpose in this section is to respond both positively and negatively to the books contents and presentation. Needless to say, this response should be more indepth than, Thisbook is a good book that should be recommended reading for everyone.On the other hand,

This book is a lousy book not worth readingis also inadequate. Central to this is the basicquestion of whether or not the author has achieved the book’s stated purpose.Answer questions such as:What are the strengths of the book, i.e., what contributions does the book make?Why should a person read this book?What did you learn from this book?How might you apply the lessons of this book in your ministry context?Would you recommend the book to other ministers? Toseminary students? Tolaypersons? Why, or why not?Do not allow your response to this question to become lengthy (for this paper is not primarily an evaluation of your ministry), but do make some application.Throughout your critique, be specific in your evaluations. Do notjust tell the reader about the book; tell and show the reader with concrete examples from the book. As previously suggested, include page numbers when making specific reference to the book.F.The length of the review should be between 3and 4pages, doublespaced usingTimes New Roman 12Point font.Style Issues for a Critical Book ReviewTurabians A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (7th ed.) is theaccepted standard for style issues.The following guidelines are included to counter common style errors:A. Utilize this suggested outline to guide your book review, but do notinclude the specific subheadings (Bibliographical Entry,Summary of the Book,etc.) in the essay. The brevity of thereview demands a smooth flow from one section to another without includingthe subheadings.B. Use firstperson sparingly; however, you may use Iwhenreferring to your opinion of atext.C. Avoid contractions in formal writing.D. Use active voice as much as possible.E. Be clear and concise. A brief review allows no room for wandering from your objective.F. Use your spellchecker, but do not trust it. A spellcheck will not catch the error in such sentences as, The whole church voted too pass the amendment.Use your eyes as well asyour spellchecker.G. Proofread your paper. Finish the paper, and proof it. Lay itaside, and proof it again at alater time. If you do not catch your errors, someone else will

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