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Analytical Book Essays: Goals and Guidelines The book for review can be chosen from among the approved readings, or chosen in consultation with the instructor. The analytical book essay should analyze the book’s theses, assumptions, and evidence. Moreover, the book’s arguments should be tied to themes from the lectures, discussion, and any other readings. In these analytical book essays you are expected to combine an examination of the narrow or particular (individual books) and the broad (ideas and themes from the class as expressed through the lectures and other readings). The expectation is that you will not only show some beginning mastery of the main themes in the history of baseball, but that you will also improve your critical reading and analytical skills as well as work on clear, concise, and thoughtful writing. The basic guidelines for the analytical book essays are: 1) The book must be either one of the assigned texts or a book chosen in consultation with the instructor. If you would like to write on a book that is not assigned, it should be a history book and must have relevance to the broad topics of the class. 2) The required length is a target only. Students who can complete the assignment in fewer than 6-8 pages may do so. Also, students who have a particularly rich analytical take on the assignment may choose to write more than 8 pages. The target page length is a suggestion. Students should use their judgment to determine if they have written too much, too little, or just enough. 3) All essays must have theses. What makes this assignment a “analytical book review” as opposed to a “book report” is the requirement that you develop an analytical and critical perspective on the book. You should tie the book to materials discussed in class, as well as to other assigned class readings. 4) A key question that you should answer in the essay is how the book fits into the class’s themes. Why, for example, was the book assigned? 5) Papers should be clearly written and include well organized citations. 6) Papers are due on the assigned date. A late penalty will be assessed for failing to meet the due date. Themes addressed include: urban history (urbanization, suburbanization, urban decline, gentrification, etc.), various transportation revolutions (railroads, automobility, air travel, etc.), race and ethnicity (segregation, Civil Rights, immigration, etc.), class relations, gender and sexuality, technological changes (the advent of radio, television, and the internet), and the history of the U.S. in the world (globalization and the spread of American culture abroad). In exploring these themes, this course explains historical processes that have shaped the world we live in today. In doing so, this course aims to cultivate and deepen students’ understandings of present day social structures and how they came to be and to encourage critical reflection and inquiry. In the process, this course also exposes students to fundamental questions, ideas, themes, and methods of analysis in the field of history and teaches critical writing and thinking skills.


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