Guidelines for Completing the Essay: 1) Select one of the topics and then, from

Guidelines
for Completing the Essay:
1) Select one of the topics and then, from the list, choose 3
books from different authors. (almost all of these books are at the Scott
library, but there will be some competition for the more popular books, so
please go to the library soon!)
2) Read and analyse each book. Here are some main points to
consider:
-what is the thesis of
the book? (what is the author’s main argument?)
-how is the book structured/organized? Are there many chapters? Does
the structure help the author prove the thesis and if so, how?
-Without getting bogged down in too many details, give us a sense
of the book’s main topics and key points.
-What sources does the author use? Primary? If so, what kinds of
primary sources – government records? Personal letters or diaries? Does the
author use a lot of secondary sources and are there detailed footnotes?
-what is the approach and the methodology? For example, is the
book a “history from below” about ordinary people? Is it political history?
Cultural or social history? Military History? Is the focus narrow or broad? Does
the author consider different perspectives and points of view? Is the book more
of an overview or a focused study of something specific within the theme in
question?
-what is the author’s “bias”? A historical bias simply means point
of view – where the author is coming from. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
-what are the strengths and weaknesses of the book? Is the
argument convincing, and why? What do you learn from it?
3) After analysing each of your books in this way, it is time to
combine them for the final part of the essay. Note the differences between the
author’s approaches and arguments, the disagreements (if any) they have with
each other, and the relative merits of each in comparison with the others. Finally,
tell your readers what, collectively, your books tell us about the event or
topic they all consider.
Resources that has to be used:
Sheila Fitzpatrick The Russian Revolution
Richard
Pipes, The Russian Revolution
Lynne
Viola, Contending with Stalinism: Soviet
Power and Popular Resistance in the 1930s