Gateway Arch: A Biography by Tracy Campbell

You have been asked to compose a book review on The Gateway Arch By Tracy Campbell in this class. This sort of assignment requires you both to report the main arguments and evidence of a book, AND evaluate the book’s arguments and use of evidence. Most book reviews are written using the following format: Thesis: a clear identification of the author’s main point. Development: the manner or the main evidence by which the author proves the thesis. Critique: the strengths and weaknesses of the book, especially as it relates to the thesis and development. Additional Information: Thesis: The thesis is the unifying principle of the whole book. It is the central argument that the author intends to unpack and prove. Although most good authors make numerous arguments in a history book, there is typically one central, defining idea that ties everything together. You will need to identify and thoroughly communicate the author’s central thesis in your own words. If you find a sentence that you believe directly identifies the thesis, that’s fine! However, do not merely put the thesis in quotes. You must use your own words. Development: The development is how the author goes about elaborating upon and backing up his thesis. Here is where you identify the historian’s use of sources. Here also is where you consider the conclusions the author draws from the sources he is using. Although you will need to summarize the major points made by the author as you describe the book’s development, you will need to go beyond merely reporting what the author says and moving into the realm of analyzing. Consider the nature of the historical evidence used. Consider the organization of the book. Consider the topics addressed, as well as the topics left untreated. Critique: The critique is an evaluation of the book’s thesis, use of evidence, organization, overall effectiveness, and contribution to the study of history in general. It is NOT about whether you like the book or not. Avoid “I” statements. In your critique, you will consider whether a particular point of view (normally a neutral necessity) and/or a particular bias or prejudice (normally an avoidable negative) shaped the author’s arguments and use of evidence.  Does the author prove her thesis? What may be missing from the argument or evidence? Does the author reveal any biases?




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