SURROUND SOUND COPYRIGHT 2011
Background photo courtesy of Wasitthee Chaiyakan
Not everyone takes writing book reviews seriously and there will always be those scholars (reviewers in residence so to speak who plug five book reviews into the same society journal every issue) who whip out some comments onthe basis of a cursory glance at the index, praise their friends, belittle their enemies, and render journals into little more than rag sheets. This disrespects the journal, but no more than the journal that allows this disrespects itself and its readers. More importantly, that activity, sadly all too common these days, does little to contribute to the betterment of the field.
By contrast, I only agree to review a few books a year. My reviews seek to relay the chief arguments of the work in question and to clearly identify what I view as its strengths and its weakenesses. Fortunately, there a number of good books out there, so I rarely have to be overly negative (but there are the occasional howlers out there too). My main interest is in connecting worthy work to the field in a meaningful way.
Charney, Michael W. "Review of Law, Disorder, and the Colonial States: Corruption in Burma, c. 1900 by Jonathan Saha. The American Historical Review (2013) 118.5: p. 1504.