Essays should be three pages long, typed or printed (double-spaced) with no, errors in punctuation, grammar or spelling. The pages should be numbered at the bottom of the page and place your name at the top right-hand corner of each page. At the top of the essay, write the name of the author, the title of the book, the place of publication, the name of the publisher, the year of publication and the number of pages. An example follows:
Meyer, Milton W. Asia A Concise History. Latham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1997. Pp. 603.
Suggestions as to Methods of Work
Read the book by William H. McNeill. ( Plagues and Peoples ) at least ten days before the essay is due. As you read, jot down any ideas in regard to the book that come to mind. After reading, consider the central theme of the book and how the contents of the work are related to that theme. Consider also what critical comments can be made. Again, write these ideas down. After a week, glance through the book again and write a draft of the essay using your notes. Lay aside this first draft for two or three days and then revise it for syntax, organization, and clarity.
Suggestions as to the Contents of the Essay
There are two parts to this essay: (1) summary of the book and (2) critical comments. A skilled essayist usually weaves these together. I want you to demonstrate that you have read this book and understand what it is about. I do not want a chapter by chapter summary, but instead I want a synopsis of the entire book and what it says. In the critical comments section, first I want you to determine the thesis of the book or the main point the author is making. I also want you to evaluate this thesis. Is it easy to find the thesis? Does the author prove the thesis? What is the author’s purpose? Is it stated explicitly in a preface or conclusion, or is it implied within the body of the text? Did the author accomplish his/her purpose? Did the author do more than accomplish the purpose? Second, I want you to determine if the book is reliable. Do you believe the author? If so, what made his argument convincing? If you did not believe the author, why not? Third, is the material presented well? Is the book readable and well organized? Is this material introduced in simple terms, or does the author plunge the reader into complexities which presuppose a general knowledge of the subject on the part of the reader? Does the book convey the excitement of the original historical event? Or is the writing lifeless? Fourth, what, if anything, did the book contribute to your knowledge and understanding of history? Would you recommend the book to another student.? Why or why not? Feel free to use quotations from the book to substantiate your arguments. I do not want your paper to be a string of quotes though.
For footnotes or endnotes use the following: Mark Mathabane, Kaffir Boy in America, (New York: Charles Scribners Sons), p.123.
Ibid can be used if the next note is from the same source.
To cite another source such as a book review use the following: Christy Paul, review of Kaffir Boyin America, by Mark Mathabane. American Historical Review 175(November 1999): 725-27.