(1) Purpose of book reviews
A review is a brief introduction to a book, which tells the reader something about the book’s topic and approach. It should also discuss how useful the book might be, and to whom. A review that fulfills this purpose will involve praise, criticism, or both. If it involves praise, show your reader some of what is good (rather than just saying it is good). If it involves criticism, give some basis for your negative judgment (rather than just saying it missed the mark). A review will also take some notice of which audience would most benefit from the work (General readers? Undergraduates? Professionals?). It may also, where appropriate, make brief comparison with similar works by other authors.
A book review in the ATR should be 600-800 words in length. If you judge that because of special circumstances a longer review is appropriate, consult with the appropriate book review editor in advance. You may also judge that a book is not worthy of any review: in this rare case please also consult with the book review editor.
In general, the instructions given above for articles apply to book reviews as well. So, for example, you should follow the Chicago Manual of Style and use U.S. spellings.
Quotations from the text are encouraged, but should be brief and run into the paragraph text, not set as block quotes. Cite any quotations by page number, within parentheses, preceded by “p.” or “pp.”
Do not add titles to the names of people referred to in your review. Avoid “The Rev.,” “Prof.,” “Dr.,” “Fr.,” and the like.
(4) Standard form of a book review
(a) Put a bibliographical heading at the top of the review, giving the number of pages in the book and its price (if you know it), in this form:
Title: Subtitle. By author. Edited by editor. Translated by translator. Series. Number of volumes. Edition. City: Publisher, year. Number of pages. Price (cloth); price (paper).
Not every book will need all these items of information.
(b) The text of the review.
(c) Your name (in roman type) and institution or location or both (in italics).
Example: a review by Anthony Baker of the book Newman and the Alexandrian Fathers: Shaping Doctrine in Nineteenth-Century England by Benjamin J. King, would take this form:
Newman and the Alexandrian Fathers: Shaping Doctrine in Nineteenth-Century England. By Benjamin J. King. Changing Paradigms in Historical and Systematic Theology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. ix + 288 pp. $110.00 (cloth).
This book, the most recent in this series, is about …
Seminary of the Southwest
(5) Submitting a review
All book reviews should be sent as e-mail attachments to the appropriate book review editor, as listed above.
If possible, the file should be in Microsoft Word. Files in other formats, such as WordPerfect, can usually be accommodated. If these are impossible, save and attach the file in a text format, or paste it into the body of your e-mail message.
The file should have a title in the following form:
[book author’s last name] by [reviewer’s last name].doc
For the example above, the file would have the title: King by Baker.doc
There are four deadlines each year for book reviews: October 1, January 1, April 1, and July 1. Very often a deadline is agreed in advance with the editor who commissions the review. If you need to discuss matters related to your review, please consult with the book review editor for your content section.