What contribution to our understanding of history did the author intend to make?

Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell. 1. Introduction: Identify the book you are going to review. The author, title, date and place of publication may be placed at the beginning of the essay in the form of a bibliographic citation.

Then state what the author’s goal was in writing the book.Why did the author write on this specific subject?

What contribution to our understanding of history did the author intend to make?

2. Brief Summary: In the main body of the review, you should begin by briefly describing the content and organization of the book, along with the most important evidence used. Do not get bogged down in details here; this section is only intended to prepare the reader for the critical assessment to follow.

3. Critical Assessment: Evaluate the bookís contribution to our understanding of history. There are several things you should look for:

a) Identify the author’s central argument, or thesis. The thesis is not the topic of the book but the specific argument that the author has made about her or his subject. Sometimes, the author states the thesis in the book’s introduction, sometimes in the conclusion. Knowing the main argument will help guide you through the rest of the book. Finding the central argument or arguments can be like finding the forest in the trees: it requires you to step back from the mass of information to identify larger themes. Sometimes a book, such as a general historical survey, lacks an explicit argument or thesis.

b) Identify the author’s perspective, point of view, or purpose. This can be approached in a number of different ways. Ask yourself whether the author has a particular emphasis, such as economic, social or intellectual history. Is the book informed by a religious or political ideology? If the book describes a conflict, does the author, either explicitly or subtly, favor one side over the other? Does the author state the purpose of the book in the introduction or conclusion?

c) Look at the author’s evidence: what sources did he or she use? This does not mean that any conclusions from such evidence would be invalid, but the author should demonstrate an awareness of any limitations imosed by the sources used.

4. Conclusion: Assess the organization and style of the book. Is it well-organized and clearly written? Does the style or the content of the book recommend it to a specific readership?

Offer a final evaluation of the book:

How valuable is it?

How important is it to read this book?

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