Guidelines for Book Reviews

Book reviews in Perspectives on History and Perspectives Online will not cover books that have been reviewed or are likely to be reviewed by the American Historical Review (AHR) (read the AHR’s book review policies, and an AHR editor’s article discussing some of the challenges inherent in selecting books).

What books, then, will Perspectives on History review? As the newsmagazine of the American Historical Association, Perspectives is the premier forum for dissemination and discussion of ideas among members of the AHA (and other historians), about the various practices of the discipline as well as the multiple facets of the profession.

Perspectives on History will, therefore, consider for review:

  • Books that deal with such topics and themes as public history, history education, and the relationships between history and technology or between history and information science;

  • Books on recent history, synthetic works; and

  • Books that provide practical guidance on professional lives and practices for historians.

Perspectives on History is published nine times a year and can dedicate only a few pages to book reviews. It can review only a small sample of the large number of books that might fall within even the relatively narrow scope as set out above. The selection of books for review will be guided not only by their content, but also by such editorial considerations as timeliness of topic, “fit” with other articles in the newsmagazine, and the contribution the review might make to current public discourse. Because one of the aims of Perspectives on History is to bridge the gaps between narrow specializations, we will seek to review books that help this process. We will also use the book reviews to reach across subdisciplinary boundaries to a wider readership with diverse interests, to spark conversations among historians in various fields, and to facilitate dialog between historians and the public at large.

Book reviews in Perspectives on History will normally be about 1,000 to 1,500 words. All reviews may be edited for length and style, and we will ask reviewers to write for the well-informed general reader, rather than for specialists. Reviews will generally be commissioned by the editors, but the editorial board will consider unsolicited reviews.

In selecting reviewers to review books for Perspectives on History, the editors may consult the editorial board and the AHA Council, noting always the need to avoid conflicts of interest, if any, while stimulating and facilitating discussion of interesting books.