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1. A brief description of the work including a statement of the thesis of the author. The thesis is the author’s major premise or point of view with respect to the subject matter of his or her work. In general it is the unifying element of the volume. In some books the thesis is very easily identifiable, in others it is much more of a challenge. Often the best place to find the thesis of a work of non-fiction is the “Preface” or “Introduction.” Here the author often relates just why the book is being written, what he or she is trying to prove. In the Preface to “Case Closed,” a brilliant analysis of the conspiracy theories surrounding the death of President John Kennedy, author Gerald Posner writes: “Many people, understandably, believe that the truth in the Kennedy assassination will never be discovered. But the troubling issues and questions about the assassination can be settled, the issue of who killed JFK resolved, and Oswald’s motivation revealed. Presenting those answers is the goal of this book.” A very easily determined thesis! Often the book will end with an “Afterward” or “Epilogue” where the author recapitulates arguments in an effort to demonstrate how the thesis was proven. When selecting your book look for a preface or introduction and see if you can readily identify the thesis. If you can, it will make your assignment much easier.2. Comments on the background and qualifications of the author to write this particular work. The student may utilize information about the author contained in the book itself but you should also search on line for additional information.3. A more detailed presentation on the author’s development of the thesis of the book. How does the author prove the thesis? This is not a simple recapitulation of the contents of the book, but rather an extensive analysis of the subject matter using specific references from the text.4. A review of the critical response to the work. How did other critics receive the book? Nearly every book written is reviewed somewhere! Virtually every major newspaper around the country reviews books on Sunday while most news magazines review several books in each issue. In addition there are periodicals (Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus Review, Library Journal, etc.) devoted to reviewing books as they are released by publishers. The Learning Resources Center has traditionally carried two compilations of book reviews: The Book Review Digest and the Book Review Index, which may be consulted to fulfill this portion of the assignment. These volumes contain a summary of all of the reviews written about a particular book and you can easily get a flavor for what the critics thought by reviewing these summaries. In addition, I have reprinted below a communication from Jane Lewandowski of the LRC that details other on-line resources that may be consulted. If your book was reviewed in the New York Times Book Review (probably the most famous and respected of all reviewers) I would suggest that you obtain a copy as it could be of great benefit to you in completing the assignment. Your paper should not only summarize the critical response, but give specific examples of what you found. 5. Your critical opinion of the book. Do you believe the author successfully developed and proved the thesis? Did you enjoy the book? Why or why not? Cite specific examples to support your opinion. Remember, all a book review is, is someone’s opinion about a book. You are entitled to your opinion!!6. Briefly comment on the relevance of the book to this course. Where does it fit in with what we have been studying.

 

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I want your paper to be a narrative; it should flow seamlessly similar to the reviews of others that you will be reading while preparing your submittal so please do not include these six topics as section headings

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