Reviews Guide

Reviewing books and other historical material of professional interest—including films, public history sites and museums, collections of documents, websites, podcasts, and many genres of popular culture relevant to historians—is a primary responsibility of the AHR.

Regardless of the content under review, the AHR carefully selects reviewers, ensuring that they have already demonstrated sufficient expertise in the relevant field, and guarding carefully against potential conflicts of interest. Reviewers are expected to have earned a Ph.D. or its equivalent (such as a J.D. or Th.D.) or to have a record of appropriate scholarship. We also prefer a potential reviewer to have published a peer-reviewed article and to have published a review elsewhere, as well as to be at work on a major piece of historical scholarship of some form (this can include museum exhibits, websites, films, and other genres).

We do not automatically exclude everyone whose name appears in the acknowledgments of a work. However, those who have in some way directly assisted in or endorsed the publication, exhibition, editing, or preparation of a work (e.g., commented on portions of a book manuscript in draft) are excluded as potential reviewers and/or asked to recuse themselves. Scholars who have already reviewed something for another journal should not then agree to review it for the AHR. Reviewers and potential reviewers should maintain the spirit of objectivity inherent in the review process. They should avoid making public statements, commentaries, or electronic media posts/discussions about a book they have agreed to review, particularly if it might call the reviewer's objectivity into question. Membership in the American Historical Association is neither a requirement for nor a guarantee of selection as a reviewer. We do not assign book reviews to scholars at their own suggestion; invitations to review are based on independent staff judgments about the appropriate match between material and reviewer. If you meet the above criteria and want to be added to our large and growing database of reviewers, please send a CV for consideration to

Book Reviews

Although we obviously cannot review every history book published, we do seek to be as comprehensive as possible. Our goal is to be as fair and thorough as we can in surveying and reporting on a wide range of contemporary historical scholarship in all fields. We realize that decisions about which books to review are inevitably judgments about what we consider to be the leading scholarship on the human past. We also recognize that notions of importance across disciplines are inherently subjective and change over time. We periodically reevaluate our procedures to ensure that our decision-making process is in accord with our best understanding of the needs and interests of the historians who are our readers.

The sheer volume of books received is one determinant in the reviewing process. At present, the AHR receives over 3,000 books a year; we have the staff resources to publish at most 1,000 book reviews a year (up to 200 per issue) and 20-25 longer "featured reviews" of books of particular interest (4-5 per issue). Moreover, the books we receive are not distributed evenly among the discipline's fields. U.S. history is by far the most heavily represented. Studies of modern European history are the next most numerous, followed by works on Asian, Latin American, medieval, ancient, Middle Eastern, and African history. Although the disparities in distribution across fields reflect the reality of scholarly publication, the AHR can review only those books that we have in hand for consideration. Therefore we try to address submission deficiencies in certain fields by actively soliciting books from publishers that might not automatically send them to us. As an author, if you would like us to review your book, please make sure that your publisher has provided us with a copy.

AHR staff members determine the appropriate length for each review before the book is sent to the selected reviewer. Reviews range in length from 800-1,000 words for a single volume, 1,200-1,500 for an edited volume, 1,500-1,800 words for a two-book review, and 1,800-2,100 words for a three-book review. Featured reviews are assigned 2,000-2,500 words, and two-book (or more) featured reviews 3,000-3,500 words. We expect reviewers to write thoughtful and engaging critiques that explain the basic argument of a book, assess its strengths and weaknesses, and place the work in historiographical context. We prefer that they do so in a way that addresses readers outside the confines of their own area of specialization. We do not dictate the content of reviews, but we do reserve the right to modify or decline to publish reviews that, in our judgment, include ad hominem attacks on an author or unsubstantiated or libelous allegations of plagiarism, or that otherwise do not meet the standards of professional scholarship. However, we do accept the responsibility of publishing credible charges of misappropriated scholarship. These must be documented with examples of parallel texts or instances of the unattributed use of other scholars' ideas and arguments.  

In an effort to expand our reviews of historical material other than scholarly monographs, the AHR welcomes proposals for reviews of the following material. All reviews ultimately are assigned by the Editor, Associate Editor, or Reviews Editor, in consultation with the Board of Editors and Associate Reviews Editors. Please note that suggesting a review does not guarantee that you will be chosen as the reviewer if we decide to commission the review.


The AHR seeks to review both fiction and documentary films about topics of historical interest. Film reviews are usually 1,500-2,000 words.

Public History

The AHR seeks to review significant sites of public history. This might include museums, exhibits, historical monuments or districts, national parks, theme parks, or any other physical site that presents history to a broad public. These reviews are usually 1,500-2,000 words.

Documentary Collections

The AHR seeks to review important collections of documents, especially those that make previously inaccessible sources widely available. These reviews are usually 1,500-2,000 words.

Website and Digital History

Recognizing that much innovative research and scholarship is now presented digitally in the form of websites, the AHR seeks to review such material. These reviews are usually 1,500-2,000 words.


The AHR is always open to reviewing new genres that make scholarship and historical knowledge available to both the profession at large and the general public. This might include materials such as video games, graphic histories, historical fiction, textbooks, television programs, and podcasts. We invite proposals for these kinds of reviews.