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History 151: McCauley

finding reviews

There are several databases and indexes to find reviews of a particular book, depending on:

  • whether you want scholarly or non-scholarly reviews, and
  • the publication date of the book.

Finding a review of a specific history book may prove to be a piece of cake, or more time-consuming with having to look in several databases or indexes, because not every book is reviewed. General interest books are more likely to be reviewed in general interest periodicals, like newspapers or magazines, while scholarly works are more likely to be reviewed in history journals. Also, it may take a while for scholarly reviews to be published. Generally they aren't reviewed until at least a year after the book was published.

Each of our databases and print indexes has a different scope of the number and type of periodicals (journals, magazines and newspapers) covered, as well as date range. The sources are arranged by the type of book reviews and publication dates you’ll find within the source.

Type of Periodical & Publication Date of Book

I want to find scholarly book reviews from major history journals (American Historical Review, Journal of American History, Journal of Modern History, etc.), and my book was published at least six years ago.

Use JSTOR

  • Coverage: Around 60 history journals (from over 400 titles on all subjects), from the first issue to 3-5 years ago. List of history journals available in JSTOR.
  • Search hints: Click on Advanced Search. Type in unique words from the title/author and limit to Review. Results are relevancy-ranked. (Lowest rankings indicate the book is mentioned in passing within the article.)

I want to do a comprehensive search for scholarly book reviews from history journals, and my book was published after 1975.

Use America: History and Life or Historical Abstracts

  • Coverage: Indexes over 4800 journals back to 1954, but book reviews are not indexed extensively until the mid 1970s. Includes links to full text articles if available in JSTOR.
  • Search hints: You can limit to Book Reviews in America: History & Life. In the Keywords box, type in unique words from the title/author. There is no limiter in Historical Abstracts, so just type in unique words from the title/author. If there is no link to the full article, click the yellow Check for Full Text button to see if it's online in another database, or we have it in print.

My book was published between 1905 and 1980, and I want to find reviews from popular newspapers and magazines, and/or a few of the major history journals (American Historical Review, Current History, English Historical Review and Journal of American History).

Use Book Review Digest . (We also have Book Review Digest in print, Ref Z1035 .A1 B3558 1905-present.)

  • Coverage: Indexes around 500 magazines, newspapers and scholarly journals, from 1905 to 1982. List of periodicals.
  • Search hints: Type in unique words from the title/author. No full text articles available within the database – just excerpts from the reviews. To locate the full text, click on EWU Library Catalog within the database, or when using the print go to  CUNY+ to see if we have that particular journal or magazine online or in print.

I want to find reviews from popular newspapers and magazines and some major scholarly journals (American Historical Review [AHR], Central European History [CEH], History Today [HT], Journal of Military History [J Mil H], etc.) and my book was published after 1965.

Use Book Review Index, a print set located in Reference, call number Ref Z1035 .A1 B6.

  • Coverage: Indexes around 400 magazines, newspapers and scholarly journals, from 1965 to the present. Covers more scholarly journals than Book Review Digest (Ref Z1035 .A1 B3558 1905-pres.). See the list of periodicals and their abbreviations in the preface.
  • Search hints: Citations to reviews are arranged by year and author of the book. (Includes title index in the back.) Start with the year the book was published, though you may have to keep looking in subsequent years. Offers a brief citation: abbreviation of the periodical – volume/issue/page – approximate number of words in the review (1-50, 51-500, or 501+).
    • Example: AHR – v110 – i1 – Feb 2005 – p159(1) [501+] means American Historical Review, volume 110, issue 1, February 2005, page 159 (1 page), and the review is over 500 words long.
    • Then use theHunter College Catalog to see if we have that particular journal or magazine online or in print.

I want to find reviews from popular newspapers and magazines and scholarly journals, and my book was published after 2000.

Try these all-subjects online databases:

Academic Search Complete – best for scholarly journals

  • Coverage: Full text articles from around 5500 magazines and scholarly journals, including 4600 journals. (Offers indexing for another 4000 titles.) Some titles start in 1975 or earlier, but most start in the late 1990s. For history, includes indexing and/or full text articles from around 800 titles. Does not offer much in the way of reviews from newspapers.
  • Search hints: Type in unique words from the title/author and limit the Document Type to Book Review. If there is no link to the full article, click the yellow Check for Full Text button to see if it's online in another database, or we have it in print.

LexisNexis Academic – purely for non-scholarly newspaper and magazine reviews

  • Coverage: Full text articles from thousands of newspapers and magazines. Dates vary, with most starting in the late 1990s, but with a few titles (Christian Science Monitor, New York Times) as far back as 1980.
  • Search hints: Click on News in the red toolbar at the top; then under Sources choose Book, Movie, Music, Play & Video Reviews. This limits you to around 140 newspapers and magazines that offer reviews.