History Book Review


Students will review a scholarly book of their choosing from any subject in recent American history.  Some options include: A Search for Order, Over Here, Voices of Protest, Washington Goes to War, Band of Brothers, The Right Stuff, and Restless Giant.  Please reference any of these sources for style and content.  In some cases, the book you have chosen may have been reviewed by these periodicals.  Please adhere to the following guidelines in writing your papers.

1.      Reviews should be 5-6 typed, double spaced pages in length.  The first page should be headed by the complete bibliographical entry, single spaced; e.g. David Brinkley, Washington Goes to War, New York: Ballantine Books, 1988, Pp. xi+287.

2.     Spend the first half of the paper summarizing the book: its thesis or argument, major points, etc.  You do not need to summarize in chapter-by-chapter fashion, but do give your reader a basic idea of what the author was trying to accomplish.  What type of work is it?  (oral history, biography, personal narrative, etc).  If the author’s background is significant (trained historian, other relevant expertise), you should mention that as well.  Does the author’s background strengthen or weaken their argument?

3.     The latter part of the paper should include an appraisal of the book’s strengths and weaknesses.  How convincing was the author’s argument?  What evidence could be included to make it more convincing?  Are there any issues with the organization, style, or scope of the book that either enhances or distracts the reader from the main argument?  What could the author have done to improve the book?  How does the book’s thesis agree or disagree with the same material presented in the textbook?

4.     Finally, explain the importance of your book in a larger historical context.  Where does it fit within the historiography?  Is it a landmark book within the field or a smaller addition?  This is most often done in the conclusion.


The Right Stuff Book review

Tom Wolfe’s book, The Right Stuff, covers the American space program up to Project Mercury. He was curious and interested in understanding the motivation and the type of a person it would take to volunteer to become an astronaut and be willing to put one’s life in the line in the name of science. In this book, Wolfe covers the American astronauts’ lives, trying to explain who they were, where they came from, and understanding their feelings while doing their work. As a result, he explains that the astronauts were guided by unspoken assumptions and standards that he classifies as the “right stuff.” Wolfe’s experience with the “right stuff” is with a group of military fliers from various bases across the US (Voas 23). After being introduced to this group, he notes that they have great willingness and capacity to work beyond the normal quality that the fliers solely judged themselves and each other. Wolfe aims to show the competition and commitment among the tests pilots, astronauts, and scientists and their privileges after their successes.  He also covers the competition between the American and the Soviet space programs and its influence on the American side. From his illustrations, he shows that the success of the American space programs that fulfilled the government’s plan was based on the military personnel commitment, especially the test pilots.

Wolfe covers the post-World War II period, where besides the Cold War paranoia, many Americans feared the Soviets were becoming more prevalent. Furthermore, the Soviets heightened the Americana unrest when they managed to launch the firsts orbiting satellite. As a result, Eisenhower highlighted the need for harrying up the program of getting a man into space as quickly as possible (Voas 25). However, the military was hesitant to look for test pilots to volunteer because the program was faced with great danger and uncertainty, especially risking life. According to Wolfe, to their surprise, an overwhelmingly high number of pilots showed willingness and commitment to volunteer as test pilots freely. For instance, one of the pilots, John Glenn, managed to be the first American pilot to orbit the earth. After Glenn’s incredible achievement, he was highly praised in the US, and the astronauts became idolized by the American people even before they made their first flight (Wolfe 117) ……………for help with this assignment contact us via email Address: consulttutor10@gmail.com

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