breaking news! I received my first invitation to review a book published just a few months ago by Cambridge University Press. As luck would have it, it’s a book I was dying to read the moment I saw it in the CUP bookstore (on one of my regular Forlornly Covet That Which Is Wildly Beyond Your Fiscal Means Sessions), and, joy of joys, they are sending me my own copy. While thrilled, though, I’m somewhat anxious. I’ve never really written a proper review, and I wondered if anyone of you much less fledgling folks out there might have any avuncular/matronly advice to offer. What makes a good review to you? who is a good reviewer, who are your favourites? what’s the best way to read a book you know you’ll have to review? what sort of balance is to be struck between the book under review and the history it discusses — how much do you assume the audience knows? &c.
For the record, and to share one of my favourites outside the discipline, Simon Blackburn’s reviews are excellent. Often masterfully droll. See in particular his utterly hysterical appraisal of Heidegger.