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History: A Guide to McFarlin Library Resources: Book Reviews

A guide to online and print sources available through McFarlin Library

Finding Book Reviews

Book review (12213308404)

Because books are important sources of information for anyone doing history-related research, being able to locate book reviews by reputable scholars will help you keep current on the published literature in your field.  A well-written review will not only summarize the book's contents, but also critique the breadth and depth of the author's research, examine the author's viewpoint on the subject of the book, and evaluate how well (or badly) the author's research supports their thesis.  Reviews should place the book in the framework of the subject in general and possibly, other books on the topic.  It's usually wise to locate multiple reviews of a book since different reviewers may have quite different reactions to the same book.

Below are some resources you may wish to use in tracking down book reviews, particularly from scholarly sources.  If you can't find anything on your book, the librarians may have more suggestions on where to look.

Locating Book Reviews

Online Resources

Print Resources

If you have difficulty locating reviews of older books in the online resources, try using the following print materials which may be found in the West Wing book stacks.

  • Book Review Digest
    Years Covered: 1922-2008
    Call #:  Z1035.A1 B58
    (1906-1922 on Microcard 028.1)
  • Book Review Index
    Years Covered: 1965-2007
    Call #: Z1035.A1 B6
  • Combined retrospective index to book reviews in scholarly journals
    Years Covered: 1886-1974
    Call #: Z1035.A1 C6
  • Index to book reviews in historical periodicals
    Years Covered: 1972-1976
    Call #: D20 .B73
  • An Index to book reviews in the humanities
    Years Covered: 1960-1987
    Call #: Z1035.A1 I63

Tips for Finding Book Reviews

Be sure you know the book's author, title, and year of publication.  Use the publication date as a reference point when looking for reviews. For the most part, general reviews (such as in newspapers) will appear within the first few weeks or months of publication. Scholarly reviews appearing in academic journals may take from a few months up to a year or more to appear.

Use the original publication date of the hardback edition.  Paperback editions are often published later.  However, ebook editions may be published at the same time as the hardback.

In a few cases, a book may have been published earlier in another country under a different title.

When searching our online databases it may help to:

  • Type the title of the book in quotation marks
  • Add the author's last name as a search term along with the title
  • Limit the search to just reviews if this option is available.
Example of limiting a search just to reviews in JSTOR
  • If it isn't, try adding the phrase "book review" or just the word "review" to your search.

If you're using a print index to look for reviews of an older book:

  • Start with the volume that covers the book's publication year, but also check the next couple of volumes for reviews that may have come out late.
  • A print index may list reviews under the author's name (last name first) or under the title.  It's worth checking both.  There also may be a separate section just for book reviews.