Write a book review on John Marshall: Definer of a Nation by Jean Edward Smith.

  • The review should list the purpose or theme of the author in writing the book. In other words, the book review should state what the author was trying to show or prove in writing the book.
  • Next, the book review should discuss what type of bias the author had regarding the subject matter of the book, whether he or she was trying to favorably depict the subject matter or to criticize some person or group. 
  • In the last paragraph (or paragraphs) the book review should state your overall impression of the book, whether it was easy or difficult to understand, whether you learned very much about the subject covered in the book, and what you learned from the book. Finally, the book review should state whether you would recommend the book to someone else and whether you enjoyed reading the book.

Expert Answers

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John Marshall: Definer of a Nation was written by Jean Edward Smith and published in 1996 by Henry Holt and Company. John Marshall possessed one of the brightest legal minds in American history. His legacy has inspired countless books that have, for the most part, discussed the impact of his work. This book differentiates itself because it is one of the first to attempt to provide a full-scale and scholarly biography of the man behind the work. Of course, Smith does spend time discussing Marshall's judicial career. However, he also spends time exploring who Marshall was as a husband, father, colleague, and citizen.

Your assignment asks you to focus on the theme or purpose of the author in writing this book. When deciding how you want to accomplish this, keep in mind that Smith wrote a book that goes beyond Marshall's work. Her focus on who he was as a person should tell you something about her purpose for writing the book. It seems that she was hoping to paint an accurate picture of the man in his totality.

You're also asked to describe the bias that the author had regarding the subject matter of the book and whether that impacted the book's quality. This book isn't an argument for or against something. If it was, it might be easier to assess whether the author was biased in some way while writing it. Rather, as stated above, Smith's main goal for writing the book was to show us who John Marshall really was. To answer this question, as you read, spend time considering which stories about Marshall the author chooses to share. Are all of them positive? Or does she do a good job of sharing the good and the bad? This might help you answer whether she wrote the book hoping to make Marshall look good or if she focused on showing the truth of who he was.

This should be plenty to get you started. Good luck!

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
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