In this Environmental Sociology course you are expected to complete two written assignments: (1) this book review and (2) a topical research paper. This book review is an in-depth analysis of Jared Diamond’s Collapse: How Societies Fail to Succeed .
Writing Good Book Reviews
A book review does not only tell you what a book is about, but also whether it achieves what it is trying to do. Therefore, a book review is more than a summary of the content (even though this is an important component), but a critical analysis of the book and your reactions to it. While you are reading the book, take notes about the following issues:
– What is the author’s main goal in writing this book? (Convince you of his position on a controversy? Explain the background of an event? Raise awareness of a particular issue?)
– What are the author’s main points? – What kind of evidence does the author provide to make his or her points? How convincing is this evidence?
– Is the book well written? (Easily understandable? Good style?)
– What group of readers would find this book most useful (Lay people? Students? Experts in the area?) A book review usually has the following components
1) Introduction (one or two paragraphs)
– Bibliographic information (author, title, date of publication, publisher, number of pages, type of book)
– Brief overview of the theme, purpose and your evaluation
2) Discussion of the key points and arguments (about 3 to 4 pages)
– Acknowledge the key points and arguments of each chapter or group of chapters
– Critically analyze the quality of these arguments; include concepts discussed in lecture, your Bell text, recent events, etc
3) Evaluation and conclusion (about one page)
– Give your opinion about the book. Is the book easy to read or confusing? Is the book interesting, entertaining, instructive? Does the author support his arguments well? What are the book’s greatest strengths and weaknesses? Who would you recommend the book to?