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Medical History Society of New Jersey

Medical History Society of New Jersey: Guidelines for Book Reviews

In 2017, the MHSNJ began publishing, on our website, selected book reviews written by and for members of the Society.  We encourage active participation in this activity!

In keeping within the scope of interest of the membership, reviews of books, typically within the following general categories, will be considered for publication:

  • Topics in medical history, perhaps with a focus on New Jersey
  • Books written by members of the MHSNJ
  • Timely publication, usually within 6-12 months, although exceptions could be made for particularly noteworthy     items.

Ordinarily, books to be reviewed will not be assigned; however, members wishing to review a particular book should make his/her interest known to the book review editor, in order to preclude irrelevancy or duplication.  Suggestions for specific book reviews and/or for particular reviewers will be welcomed.  Book reviews should be completed in a timely manner.

Suggested construction of book reviews

Book reviews may range from 250-750 words.  It is more important, however, to write a clear review, containing sufficient information for potential readers, than to adhere to a particular word count.  Excessive length tends to dissuade readers.  The purpose of a book review is to stimulate and engage the potential reader, not to act as a substitute for reading the book (!)

Suggested information to be conveyed in a book review

  • Describe the nature of the book.  Is it a text, a treatise, or a guide?  Is it historical, philosophical, analytic, or practical?  Is it easily read or must it be studied?

  • Describe the contents.  How is the book arranged?  Is the subject covered logically and comprehensively?  Can information be extracted easily?  What information is covered, and can the reader be expected to learn something?

  • Critique the book.  Is the information presented clearly?  Is it credible?  Is the effort spent reading the book worthwhile?  Does the book have relevance?  In what respects?

  • Assess, if possible, the credentials of the author, editor, or contributors, as applicable.

  • For what audience is the book intended?

  • Expand on the theme of the book being reviewed:          

---What is the author’s thesis?  Does the argument support the thesis?  Or could there be alternative interpretations?
---What is the book’s place in the historical context? 
---What lessons can be learned? 
---What qualities attract the reader to this book?

Book reviews submitted for consideration of publication will be reviewed by the book review editor and by designated members to be called upon for advice and assistance.  Reviews deemed worthy of publication will be posted in a timely fashion.  Those determined to be not suitable will be returned to the writer.

 Several of our MHSNJ members have written books and are well-acquainted with the review process.  These members, and others, already have familiarity with the genre.  We look forward to a vigorous and stimulating experience for everyone!

Alan J. Lippman, MD, Book Review editor.      (201) 306-4919 [cell].       ajlippman@aol.com                                                            

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Medical History Society of New Jersey
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