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For our final assignment, students will demonstrate their analytic and writing skills by offering a thorough and rigorous review of the book City of Inmates, by Kelly Lytle Hernández. The goal of a book review is not to summarize the content of the book, but to synthesize and extract main points, trace the means through which the author makes their argument, and offer your own critical analysis and appraisal of the book. Is this a strong piece of academic work? Would you recommend this book? From your perspective, does it make a valuable contribution?
Your book review should be 4-6 pages and be well-organized and clearly written. While a portion of this paper will inevitably be giving an overview of the book, students should focus their attention on the author’s goals, theses, contentions, and methods of analysis. Students will be evaluated in several areas. They are:
Overview. Students will demonstrate the ability to give a thorough, yet concise overview of the work. Critical Analysis. Students will demonstrate their ability to identify, understand, analyze, and engage with 1-2 main arguments of the book. This will require a strong understanding of the author’s argument as well as an understanding of race, and other social formations, as lenses of analysis. Student are required to offer important quotes from the book to support their analysis.
Personal evaluation and appraisal. Student will assess the value of the argument of the book through their own argument. Here, student may put the book in conversation with different themes of the course as well as their own perspective. This requires commentary on the value and importance of the work. What does the work offer us? Is this important scholarship? Why? What about the argument makes it important? When writing a book review (especially for this class), it is fine for the reviewer’s own voice, opinions, and lived experiences to inform their engagement with the book. It is the reviewer’s task to make their own argument about the book. Your book review must have a clear and detailed thesis that outlines the argument that the reviewer is making in their review of the book.
Paper outline: Introduction (1-2 paragraphs) Introduce the book, author, subject area, and method of research.
End introduction with a thesis that clearly maps out your book report.
Your thesis should clearly introduce your analysis of the book as well as your appraisal of its value.
Your thesis can (and should) be more than one sentence.
Your thesis should not be vague.
Overview (2-3 paragraphs)
Provide a brief overview of the book’s contents and main arguments (this should not take up more than 1/3 of the overall book review
Critical Analysis (2-3 paragraphs) Identify 1-2 important arguments of the book
*Note—you do not need to cover every argument made in the book
Personal evaluation and appraisal (2-3 paragraphs)
Did the author meet their goal?
Is this a believable piece of historical research? Do you agree with the argument of the book?
Do you recommend this book? What contribution does this book make to the ways we might understand race in the United States?
Do not be afraid to say your own thoughts and opinions here (just be sure they are generally connected to the book)