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HIST 103: Historiography

About book reviews

Book reviews are articles that appear in newspapers, magazines and journals that describe and critically evaluate books. Reviews of popular books (books intended for a general audience) appear shortly after the publication date (you may even find one before the book is published!)  while reviews of scholarly books may take up to a year or even a bit longer to appear. 

You will most likely be looking for reviews of scholarly books (written for academics and other experts engaged in the discipline).  Scholarly book reviews aim to "explain the basic arguments of books, assess strengths and weaknesses and place books in historiographical context." (American Historical Review website) In other words, a scholarly book review will discuss the importance of the book to the discipline and the new knowledge (or perspective) that the book adds to the discipline.  Reviewers are chosen carefully--they usually hold doctoral degrees, are very familiar with the body of literature of the discipline and have published within the discipline.  Scholarly book reviews can range in length from a paragraph to several pages.

In order to locate a book review you need to know the author, title, and the publication date.  If you do not have this information, you can check Discovery (located on the Library homepage), WorldCat (A to Z list of databases), or  The box below will point you to tools and sources for book reviews.

Sources for book reviews

To locate book reviews, use DISCOVERY 

Be sure to put the title of the work being reviewed in quotes and use the boolean connector AND (in caps) followed by the keyword review. Click on the link below for more search tips.

The research databases listed above provide access to publications that contain book reviews.  Try searching by the title or author of the book and adding the words "book review" to your search.  Or try searching H-Net Reviews. 

H-Net Reviews in the Humanities and the Social Sciences is an online, scholarly review resource.  According to the site,  "H-Net Reviews brings a new dimension to the world of academic publishing.  Our reviews are published online via discussion networks and the H-Net web site.  This permits our reviews to reach scholars with a speed unmatched in any other medium.  It also makes a new kind of interactivity possible, as reviewers, authors and readers engage in discussions of reviews online" 

You can also look at specific journals for book reviews.  Use DISCOVERY/Journals (above image) to determine which of our research databases provide access to the journal you are looking for.  Try:

  • American Historical Review
  • History: Review of New Books
  • Journal of American History
  • Reviews in History
  • New York Times
  • Washington Post
  • New York Review of Books (available as a database)
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