A critical book review of Samantha Power’s A Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide. A critical book review should focus on a critical assessment of the ideas and arguments presented by the author and an evaluation of its main contributions to current scholarly or policy debates surrounding the issue of genocide. Accordingly, the critical book review should follow these general guidelines:
#1: Introduce the Book In no more than two paragraphs, you want to introduce the book and give your initial appraisal, including your key observation in the text. This key observation is, in essence, your thesis that you will be exploring and supporting in the rest of the critical review.
#2: Provide a Succinct Summary of the Book’s Main Thesis, Arguments, and Contents It is of course important to give a broad sense of the content of what the book contains, what the main thesis/subarguments of the author are, and the main conclusions that they reach. However, you want to avoid simply spending the review describing the books contents. Accordingly, this summary should only be 2-3 paragraphs and no more. Be clear, concise, and strategic in the way you approach this. In essence, like an extended academic article abstract, the reader should be able to look at this section and get the general sense of what the book contains and covers.
#3: Provide a Critical Analysis and Evaluation of the Book Using the broad overview of the book in the second section as a ‘springboard’ , this is the point where you move into your independent critical analysis in earnest and where the vast majority of your time and space should be spent in writing the paper (75%+). In these section you should seek to identify and assess the common themes that you saw emerging throughout the book. This section should also include your own critical evaluation of the strengths/weaknesses of the key arguments raised in the book. This can include an evaluation of the validity and effectiveness of the author’s arguments, the sources and evidence they use, or perhaps even their methodology. It might even extend to comments on the author’s organization and writing style if you perceived real strengths or weaknesses here. Again, your critical analysis should focus broadly on evaluating the overall contributions of the book and its importance to scholarship and policy on the issue of genocide.
#4: Conclusion This is the section where you (very briefly) summarize your analysis and make your general concluding remarks about the book and the ideas presented in this. This should be no more than a paragraph, perhaps two. If you have not already done so, this should indicate whether you feel the book is worthwhile, what audience might benefit (or not) from reading it, and your conclusions regarding the book’s overall contribution to the field.
Additionally, three critical discussion questions based on your reading of the book that should be posted on a separate page attached after your works cited.
No more than 8 pages in length
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