HIST 101 San Diego State Week 4 Common Sense by Thomas Paine Book Report

Book Paper: due end of week 4

You will write a 5-7 page paper for one book from the list. Do not count cover pages or bibliographies as part of the page count. Papers must be typed, double spaced, use 12 point font and be appropriately cited. In text citations are not required except in the case of direct quotes. You may not use external sources. Emphasize analysis over plot summary by focusing on selected points from the following questions if and when applicable:

What does this text say to you?

What themes are expressed?

What does it mean? That is, make the case for the selected themes. Focus on how and why questions.

How does it reflect what was happening at the time it was written?

What issues relating to nationhood or constitutionalism are addressed if any?

When including discussion of the text, focus on concise summary. Keep the use of quoted material to a minimum. No quotes longer than two lines.

How can the selected themes help contemporary readers think more critically about contemporary issues?


Be sure to edit and proofread work prior to submission.

No submissions will be accepted after the assignment closes.

Do not wait until the last minute to upload

The following stylistic guidelines for writing a book paper are modified in part from: © 1997 J. Adrian Verkouteren St. Alban’s School

Stylistic Guidelines

1.) Do not use phrases such as “I think”, “I believe”, or “in my opinion”.

2.) If you aren’t sure of something, go back and find out. If you don’t know what the story’s about, go back and study it again; but don’t guess or apologize or second-guess yourself (changing in the conclusion what you set out to prove in the beginning is a real no-brainer). Readers will resent such habits.

3.) Avoid self-consciousness. Do not refer to yourself as author or reviewer, to the analysis as such, or to “the reader” as if other readers are somehow less enlightened than yourself. The focus of your analysis is the book and its author; try to keep the focus where it belongs.

4.) Don’t inflate your analysis or its subject (also called Mohammed Ali-izing the subject). Don’t imply (much less state) that your topic or analysis is “the greatest of all time.” That the book is a well written book and your analysis is a well written analysis should be sufficient.

5.) Remember that almost anyone can read the book you are analyzing for the total experience (and I hope some will). What your analysis provides is, in very condensed form, your insight into the author’s technical support of his or her goal.

6.) Few if any of the books on your list are badly written. Whether you enjoy a book or not will not depend on the author’s competence, rather on your individual taste; and this is as it should be. Therefore, rather than trashing a book you did not enjoy, your most productive approach might be to ascertain what sort of person would enjoy your book. Your own feelings about the book should probably not be stated but implied through your choice of words. Realize that most books are mixtures of strengths and weaknesses; books you enjoy may have slow parts (why?), and books you dislike may still do some things well.

Book Analysis Reading List

Common Sense by Thomas Paine

On Liberty by John Stuart Mill

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriett Beecher Stowe

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

Killer Angels by Michael Sharraa

Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

The Crucible by Arthur Miller

Walden by Thoreau

The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass

Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain

Last of the Mohicans by James Fennimore Cooper

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

In the Midst of Life: Tales of Soldiers and Civilians (1891) by Ambrose Bierce

A People Dangerous and Armed John Shy

The Oregon Trail, Francis Parkman

Moby Dick, Herman Melville

“Nature”, OR “Self Reliance,” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Autobiography, Benjamin Franklin

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

Sand in the Whirlwind: the Paiute Indian War of 1860, Ferol Egan


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