I have been given an assignment to review the book "The Challenges to Conducting Free and Fair Elections in Emerging African Democracies: The Case of Ghana" by Dr Kwadwo Africa Gyan. I don't know...

I have been given an assignment to review the book "The Challenges to Conducting Free and Fair Elections in Emerging African Democracies: The Case of Ghana" by Dr Kwadwo Africa Gyan. I don't know how to go about it. Can I get help? How do I start reviewing this book?

Expert Answers
kateanswers eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What a long title for a book- I think I might feel a little at a loss as for where to begin, too! You are in luck, though, as eNotes has a handy guide for writing a book review. Feel free to click the link here (or below) to read the full guide, but I will give you a short summary of the content here.

If you haven't already begun reading the book, no worries! Take this chance to familiarize yourself with the text. Flip through the pages. Notice whether the text looks dense or academic, or whether you think it might be enjoyed by an audience of just about anyone. How is the book organized? Are there reviews or a summary on the back? Are there any photos in the text or on the cover of the book? All of these details can help you get an idea of what the book will be like. 

After familiarizing yourself with the text, it's a good idea to prepare for some note-taking while you read. What do you already know about democracy in Ghana? What do you want to learn? Outlining these questions and setting up space to write down other important information gives you the opportunity to begin writing down some material for your paper. Having a question in mind before reading will also help you hunt down information while you read.

If you have already read the book, and have not taken any notes, you can do so now. Go back through the book and take notes on what you feel the key themes are. Did you have any questions before reading that were answered in the text? What do you think the author wanted you to learn? What was the author's connection to his or her writing?

You can now use your notes to begin writing a draft for your paper. Something that's helpful both for you (as a writer) and your teacher (as a reader) is to begin by summarizing the book. In one or a few paragraphs, recount the events of the text in your own words. Imagine you are telling someone who has never read this book what happened. 

After your summary, analyze the text. Do you think it successfully explained its message? Did you find it enjoyable or interesting to read? What did you learn about conducting elections in emerging democracies? Was there any conflict, and if so, was it resolved?

Finally, put the book into context. Why should we study Ghana as a case study for emerging democracy? Why did the author write this book? Is it their expertise? Is it a memoir? How is the message of this book important (or not) and what can we learn from it? To answer these questions, you may have to look at resources outside of the text itself. Use the text and any additional resources to develop and support your judgment of the book.

Answering all of these questions should help you build a significant body of writing that you can work into a draft of your book review. For more tips, please check out the guide to writing book reviews I have linked you to! Good luck!

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