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Informative Tips on How to Write a History Book Review

Before diving into how to write a history book review, you first have to know the proper way to write a book review because it is applicable to all.

How to Write a History Book: Writing a book review

There are two main goals when doing this: The first one is to inform the reader what the book contains, and the second one is to give an analysis and evaluation that elaborates your judgement of the book’s quality.

Read the book critically

Similar to other essays, the step of writing an impactful book review starts with having a critical reading of the book. While reading the book, makes sure to jot down notes in your own words because this helps in putting distance between you and the book and this will avoid regurgitating the details in the review. It also helps in seeing patterns in the book and thus towards thesis work.

While reading, these questions should be answered:

  • What is the main issue or question that the book is answering?
  • The argument or thesis of the book?
  • How is the book organized in order to help the thesis? What is the order of the chapters?

Do an evaluation

It is important to know the difference between just criticizing the work and analyzing and thinking critically about the book. Thinking critically does not always pertain to disagreeing with the book. It is only about analyzing and considering the book in reasonable aspect. The review must not show an evaluation of the arguments of the book, how effectively they are given, and how they assist or fail to help readers to have understood what the book is about.

While reading the notes you wrote down, answer these questions:

  • How does the book help people in understanding the time and period or issue?
  • What are the kinds of evidence that the author gives to support their argument?
  • Does the book convey what the author wants to drive at?
  • Are there other evidences that the author failed to cover?
  • What are the theoretical perspectives found and how does this affect their argument?
  • Did the book convince you? Why or why not?

The sources the author used

Did the author use secondary or primary sources, or is it a combination of both? Give a review of the bibliography about the text to see if there is a pattern or an interesting observation regarding the sources that were used by the author. Are they all new or old? This fact can give a good insight into the thesis’ validity.

After you have written the analyses of the book, you can now compose your review. There are numerous ways on how to format a book review, but there is a common format that can differ according to what needs to be emphasized and the required length.

  • Give the author an introduction, the historical period and topic of the book. Inform the reader what genre of history the work is from or the kind of approach the author used. Then, set out the main argument.
  • Provide a summary of how the book was organized and give additional detail regarding the author’s small arguments. Here, the assessment can also be worked on about the evidence and sources that were used.
  • The strengths and weaknesses of the book come next. You can decide when it should be given, but if you make a positive assessment of the book, it is not necessary to include the faults of the book and the other way around.
  • When writing the conclusion, you can write your recommendations for the readers unless you have already discussed it. You can also review how convincing the argument was, comment on the importance or the difference of the argument and topic, or elaborate how the author adds to understanding a certain historical question.

How to write a history book review thesis

The thesis should answer the main argument of the book and your evaluation of the book in terms of strengths or weaknesses. Why and/or in what ways do you think the work shows these strengths and weaknesses.


  • Smith made an argument that in the 19th century, indigenous people faced a lot of cultural and physical losses through the warfare and practices of assimilation. His argument is backed by detailed evidence. Although, his work did not identify the limited agency that indigenous peoples stayed throughout their experience and is not able to demonstrate how indigenous took on the challenges of their new surroundings; lastly, the book did not elaborate on the cultural continuity that some indigenous peoples were able to sustain.

How to write a history book review useful tips

Learn as you read

While taking on historical research, you will encounter things that you don’t know or understand. This is normal because nobody knows everything. Professional historians who are experienced, like beginners, try to have a wider understanding of history. If there is an unfamiliar concept, term, or a new type of document. Search it up in reference books or read on some background material to acquire explanation.

Methodical and record keeping

Take time to explore the landscape, which is obvious, but local historians are still reluctant to do it.

Consider the context

Communities did not spring from isolation. When researching history, do not limit yourself to only finding out what happened in the neighboring village or in another part of the town, or somewhere else in the same industry, etc. Keep a mental framework about the time and place and visualize your topic into the framework.

All parts of history are worth knowing

This is true because a royal visit should also be told because it has the same importance and full of human interest as seven centuries of experiencing toil and labor or sustaining a community to conquer good bad times. Even the ordinariness is important to readers and the people also identifying with that kind of real history and the way they relate to it. The emotions, lives and experiences of ordinary people in normal situations in the past, as tackled by you, may have a certain level of reality for today’s readers and listeners.

Work on themes and subject instead of a chronological progression

Some local history books are more ordinary compared to the ones which started during the Iron Age and end today and go back to the story of what occurred in-between an annually unbroken sequence. This kind of approach makes for tedious, repetitive and the text might not be enough, where the trends and patterns of history are gone.

The purpose of the history book review

When you know how to write a history book review, you are aware that a main objective of it is to give information about a certain topic in history – it is not a book that creates a summary of the content. Historiography is the history of writing about a certain topic. The historical source that is reviewed is normally secondary, that is, it talks about an event in history that the author gave contributes fresh information. The review is important in that it talks about and evaluates the importance of fresh information. Book reviews also give historians a thumbnail sketch of the book’s contents that can be useful for doing research work.

History essay

The relevance

Every history student should not fail to answer the question. You can write well and make an argument of the case with a lot of convincing evidence, but if you fail to give the relevance, you might as well think about it. It is because you need to think about the question you need to answer and work on that.

Importance of the first paragraph

All parts of the essay are important, but the first part is crucial. This is when you get to impress or depress an examiner. Write a first sentence that is eye-catching. More importantly, show your understanding of the question set. Give your definition of main terms, and establish the significant time-frame and issues. Another thing is to divide the overall question to make it more manageable.

Middle paragraph

When you are already here, the question you are trying to answer is already obvious. Start the middle paragraph with a generalization that is important to the question. Then you can get this idea and support it with evidence. You need to provide a good selection of evidence because you only have limited space and time to decide on how much detail to give.

Final paragraph

This is when you should hammer home. Provide all of the correct answers to what you talked about in the essay. In the middle paragraph you were focused on talking about the argument. Now, you need to judge and say the final verdict.

There is a notion that the digital revolution has changed the ways of how to write a history book because of the new technologies that might have affected the important work craft as scholars. This is something that needs to be given thought as well. No matter how history is written, it cannot be changed.

Before diving into how to write a history book review, you first have to know the proper way to write a book review because it is applicable to all.

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Assignment ID
26 June 2016
27 June 2016
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