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“Be Sure You’re Right, Then Go Ahead”: The Davy Crockett Gun Craze by Sarah Nilsen
THE CRITICAL REVIEW
The critical review is a writing task requiring you to summarize and evaluate a piece of
writing (a book, a chapter, or a journal article. Writing the critical requires you to read
the selected text in detail and to also read other related material (outside resources) in
order present a fair and balanced evaluation of the material. Being critical does not
mean to criticize in a negative sense, but to question the information and opinions of the
author and present your assessment and judgment of the piece. In our case the
central question is: How good and reliable is the history presented in the article?
You will need to identify, summarize, and evaluate the ideas and information the author
has presented. In other words, you will be examining another person’s thoughts on a
topic from your point of view. Make your stand clear at the beginning of your review, in
your evaluations of specific parts, and in your concluding commentary. A critical review
has three parts. The overall length of your review should be five to seven good
paragraphs with five or more well constructed sentences making a paragraph. Do the
job required and length will take care of itself.
Introduction: . The introduction is usually one or two paragraphs. Your
introduction will focus on identifying the author, the title, the main topic or issue
presented in the article, and the author’s purpose in writing the article.
Critique: . This is the main section of your review with the majority of your
space dedicated to it. The critique should be a balanced evaluation of the strengths and
weakness of the article. Your goal should be to make a few key points about article (at
least three or four), not to discuss everything the author writes. Remember, as you
discuss the author’s major points, be sure to distinguish consistently between the
author’s opinions and your own. Keep the summary portions of your discussion concise,
remembering that your task as a reviewer is to re-see the author’s work, not to re-tell it.
And, importantly, if you refer to ideas from other books and articles or from lecture and
course materials, always document your sources, or else you might wander into the
realm of plagiarism. Include only that material which has relevance for your review and
use direct quotations sparingly.
Conclusion: . You will want to use the conclusion to state your overall
critical evaluation. You have already discussed the major points the author makes,
examined how the author supports arguments, and evaluated the quality or
effectiveness of specific aspects of the book or article. Now you must make an
evaluation of the work as a whole, determining such things as whether or not the author
achieves the stated or implied purpose and if the work makes a significant contribution
to an existing body of knowledge.
Mechanics: . Proper length, spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization,
proper bibliography with references cited in the MLA style of referencing