How To Write a Book Review
Writing a Book Review at an Academic level
There are two keys to writing a good book review. First, you must summarize the author’s position on the topic so that the reader has a basis for evaluating your critique. The key is to say enough so that the reader has a firm understanding of the author’s argument, but avoid adding so much detail that there is insufficient room for the critique. The second and most important key to the paper is the analysis of the author’s opinion. The student should discuss whether, based on the author’s logical and evidentiary support that his or her position is justifiable. For example, consider the article entitled “Is Business Bluffing Ethical” from the Harvard Business Review. The author argues that a number of practices that society considers unethical are not unethical in the business world. His evidence for this argument is that business people routinely engage in such practices and do not consider them unethical. Two examples of such practices he cites are deceptive labeling of food packages and the neglect of known safety hazards when corporations manufacture products. The author’s case is defective on two grounds:
- Many of the practices he cites, including those noted above, are in fact considered unethical by many people in business. Therefore, his basic factual premise is incorrect. Here, I am challenging the author’s evidence. I would cite evidence disputing the author’s statement that businesspeople consider such practices ethical.
- Even if it is true that businesspeople consider such practices ethical, that does not mean that in fact they are ethical. One could conclude alternatively that many business practices are not ethical. To conclude that the practices are ethical, one must cite ethical principles, not merely common practice. Here, I am challenging the author’s logic.