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150 points.  The goal of this assignment is to critically evaluate a book from an environmental (sociological) point of view. You will read one of the recommended books and write a 3-5-page book review.

Due: Week 5, February 17

Essay requirements: 3-5 pages, Typed; APA style

Format: Times New Roman, 12 pt.; 1-inch margins; 1.5 line-spacing

Organization, spelling, and grammar count. Your essay should have an introduction, a discussion of content and a conclusion.


How to write a critical book review

Your review should have two goals:
1.  To inform the reader about the content of the book.
Do NOT spend more than one-third or so of the paper summarizing the book. The summary should consist of a discussion and highlights of the major arguments, features, trends, concepts, themes, ideas, and characteristics of the book. While you may use direct quotes from the book (make sure you always give the page number), such quotes should never be the bulk of the summary. Much of your grade will depend on how well you describe and explain the material IN YOUR OWN WORDS.
Throughout your summary, I want you to provide a critique of the book. A critique consists of thoughts, responses, and reactions. It is not necessarily negative. Nor do you need to know as much about the subject as the author (because you hardly ever will). The skills you need are an ability to follow an argument and test a hypothesis. Regardless of how negative or positive your critique is, you need to be able to justify and support your position.

  1. To provide an evaluation that gives your judgment of the book’s quality.Here are a number of questions that you can address as part of your critique. You need not answer them all, but questions one through four (1-4) must be included. And these questions are ABSOLUTELY NOT to be answered one after another. Don’t have one paragraph that answers one, and then the next paragraph that answers the next, etc. The answers should be part of a carefully constructed essay, complete with topic sentences and transitions.

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The answers to these questions must be included in your review

  1. What is your overall opinion of the book? On what basis has this opinion been formulated? That is, tell the reader what you think and how you arrived at this judgment. What did you expect to learn when you picked up the book? To what extent – and how effectively – were your expectations met? Did you nod in agreement (or off to sleep)? Did you wish you could talk back to the author? Amplify upon and explain your reactions.
  2. Identify the author’s thesis and explain it in your own words. How clearly and in what context is it stated and, subsequently, developed? To what extent and how effectively (i.e., with what kind of evidence) is this thesis proven? Use examples to amplify your responses. If arguments or perspectives were missing, why do you think this might be?
  3. Are you able to detect any underlying philosophy/worldview/ethical theory held by the author? If so, explain what you believe the author’s position to be.
  4. Are you able to detect any underlying social-environmental theory held by the author?

The answers to these questions may enhance your review.

  1. What are the author’s aims? How well have they been achieved? Are these aims supported or justified? (You might look back at the introduction to the book for help).
  2. How are the author’s main points presented, explained, and supported? What assumptions lie behind these points?
  3. How effectively does the author draw claims from the material being presented? Are connections between the claims and evidence made clearly and logically? Here you should definitely use examples to support your evaluation.
  4. What conclusions does the author reach and how clearly are they stated? Do these conclusions follow from the thesis and aims and from the ways in which they were developed? In other words, how effectively does the book come together?
  5. Identify the assumptions made by the author in both the approach to and the writing of the book. For example, what prior knowledge does the author expect readers to possess? How effectively are those assumptions worked into the overall presentation? What assumptions do you think should not have been made? Why?
  6. Does the author’s presentation seem fair and accurate? Is the interpretation biased? Can you detect any distortion, exaggeration, or diminishing of material? If so, for what purpose might this have been done, and what effect does hithave on the overall presentation?


Grading Rubric

Total points A, Excellent

(150 pts)

B, Good

(135 pts)

C, Fair

(119 pts)

D, Needs Improvement
(104 pts)

(0 pts)

Mechanics & Format & length

(20 pts)

No grammatical, spelling or punctuation errors; consistent style, proper format 5 or fewer errors More than 5 errors; not required length Too many errors for a college student No paper submitted or does not meet the requirements of the assignment.



(30 pts)

Essay clearly organized—introductin, discussion, conclusion– Logical presentation Some difficulty following discussion No apparent organization
Introduction; Summary & critique; Evaluation; Conclusion. Connections to course concepts
All critique questions are answered. Thorough summary and evaluation that demonstrates depth and critical thought;
Provides sufficient supporting details and connections to course concepts.
Most critique questions answered. The evaluation demonstrates some depth and thought; some connections are made to course concepts. Critique questions not adequately answered or not at all. Writing demonstrates little thought. Few or poor connections to course concepts. Little thought demonstrated; Summary and evaluation insufficient; few or no connections 


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