The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington by Jennet Conant


Summary portion of reviews (2 pages): Summarize the essential points. Be sure that you your coverage is even. Avoid the common error of giving too much space to early chapters and not enough to later ones. Include as much explanatory detail as possible. Critical analysis (1 page): Critique the book as a work of history. Use professional language. Note the author’s credentials. Identify the author’s argument(s). Point out what evidence/sources the author uses. Comment on the writing style and supplementary materials (maps, tables, bibliography, index, etc.). Indicate whether you agree with the author’s viewpoint and use of evidence, explain your opinion, and provide as much evidence as possible to support your position. Note that you do not have to agree with the author or with the instructor. What matters is how well you argue your position. Avoid juvenile criticism (boring, too hard, too long, too many names, etc.). Avoid using passive voice, which is wordy (thus wasting space) and often fails to identify the actor, which is important in analyzing works of history. An example of passive voice that fails to identify the actor is “Richard III was defeated at Bosworth.” An example of passive voice that identifies the actor but is too wordy is “Richard III was defeated by Henry Tudor at Bosworth.” An example of active voice is “Henry Tudor defeated Richard III at Bosworth.” Avoid wordiness and unnecessarily flowery language. If an adjective will say the same thing as a prepositional phrase or a dependent clause, use the adjective. The more succinct your sentences are, the more you can say and the better your grade is likely to be. Make every word count. A splendid essay on how to do this right is Mark Twain, “Cooper’s Prose Style.”

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