Course Weight 20%
Maximum Length: 7 typewritten double-spaced pages.
Book to be Reviewed:
Carney, Mark. 2021. Value[s]: Building a Better World for All. Toronto: Viking Penguin.
General Advice and Instructions:
A good book review summarizes and analyzes and/or evaluates the main arguments of the book. As a good rule of thumb, 50% to 60% of your review ought to summarize, 40% to 50% ought to consist of analysis and/or evaluation. Your goal is to give the reader an informed opinion about the book or a critique of the book that they can either agree with or disagree with, after they themselves have read it.
Second, you ought to keep in mind the audience that you are writing for. In this case, the assignment is for a class titled, “Introduction to Public Administration.” Consequently, you probably want to keep asking yourself: “How does public administration and its key institution of bureaucracy, as well as the other big institutions we are studying [western culture, liberalism, capitalism, and democracy] fit in to the main argument of this book and my evaluation or criticism of it?” This should play a prominent role in your analysis of the book along with what it has to say about the current problems of capitalist countries such as Canada, the causes of those problems, and the world the author hopes you want to live in. Given the length of this review, you probably will not have room for a meaningful analysis of the book’s relationship to all of five of the institutions that form the core of this class. If in writing your critique or analytic portion of your review, you focus in on the relationship between one of those five institutions and the content of this book, you will have done an excellent job.
When uploading your book review to the E-Class system, please make sure the file you are submitting is in one of the following formats: Adobe PDF [.pdf] M-S Word [.doc or docx] or generic Rich Text Format [.rtf].
When citing the book you are reviewing or quoting from it, you do not have to provide a full academic citation. Simply place the page number in brackets, for example [p.77], and it is assumed your reference is to the book itself. You must properly cite any other material that you rely on. It does not matter which of the many systems for citing material you use, as long as you use the one you have chosen properly and consistently. The Library website has an excellent guide to doing both book reviews and to preparing citations.
Of course, having done the academic integrity tutorial, you already know when you need to provide citations to source material. If you have not looked at that tutorial yet, here is the link again: https://spark.library.yorku.ca/academic-integrity-what-is-academic-integrity/
The following is an example of a book review that is roughly 50% descriptive 50% analytical:
Cohn, Daniel. 2003. “Markets and Medicine: The Politics of Health Care Reform in Britain, Germany and the United States. By Susan Giaimo. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002, 328 pp.” Perspectives on Politics 1, 810. [Please note: this journal treats all the book reviews in it as a single article. Therefore, after you use the link below and open the journal, you will have to scroll down to page 810.]
In reading this sample book review, please remember: The editors of academic journals select other professors to review books because they know that person has some expertise in the area. Similarly, the audience reading the review is also composed of people who know a good deal about the topic of the book. That changes the standard for what needs support in the form of citations. You will recall the four big categories of what needs to be cited:
1 Direct quotes.
2 Ideas or theories associated with a given author or a known person.
3 Facts that are not generally known. For example: We all know Justin Trudeau and the Liberals won the 2015 and 2019 Canadian federal elections, no citations needed. However, it is not generally known that the Conservative Party won a larger share of the popular vote than the Liberals in the 2019 election. Therefore if you mention that fact, you must provide a citation.
4 Points that are disputable and relevant to your own argument or analysis. For example, if you write: “Most Canadians are worried about climate change.” You need to either provide a summary of the public opinion data you yourself have collected on the matter by, for example, doing a national public opinion survey. OR you need to cite a published source that reports on such a study [such as a newspaper article or an academic book or journal article].
Because the sample book review I have referred you to was written by a professor for other professors, and because it is a book review not a research article, the only things that get cited are the category 1 and 2 things. The category 3 and 4 things are so well known by both the author and the audience he wrote this review for, that no citations are needed for those. That will not be the case with your review. My assumption in reading your review is that you are a first year student, not someone who has spent a couple of decades learning about this topic, so I would like to see citations for all four situations were citations are generally required by academic convention.