On the Subject of Book Reviews

Ed Ferguson’s review of African Perspectives on Colonialism by A. Adu Boahen appears to be straightforward. Of the three pages spent on the review, half of it was spent in summary of Boahen’s work while the other half is dedicated to what was wrong with the text. However, when a person reviews something they should not just describe what downfalls the work has, but they should express what the work did right also.

Katherine Harris’ review of the same work is much more like a traditional book review. However, she spends much less time summarizing the text and focuses more on an analysis of the text. Unlike the Ed Ferguson review Harris’ review offers points that describe both the downfalls and strong points of the original text.

I found the review of the text by John Lonsdale much more “laid back” than the previous texts. It seems to be not only one of the shortest book reviews I have ever read, the primary portion of it focusing on a detailed summary of Boahen’s text. Lonsdale does not even begin an analysis of the book until the final paragraph which is not nearly enough space to elaborate what should be a well thought out argument.


One Response to “On the Subject of Book Reviews”

  1. Brooke says:

    I agree with where you were going with your summary. Analysis should be the main point of a book review. A simple summary is important, but not the whole review, I agree.