A while back Andrew asked our readers to suggest some exemplary journal articles that model different approaches to intellectual history. I have a similar request today, but for a different genre.
I would like some recommendations for exemplary review essays — both those that review single titles and those that review multiple titles. I’m particularly interested in recommendations for review essays that model different structural solutions to the basic problem of melding “review” and “essay.”
Some review essays draw a rather sharp line — often visible in the typography of the text — between the author’s informed reflections on the subject at hand and his or her assessment of the book(s) in question. Leo Ribuffo’s “God and Contemporary Politics” (JAH 79, No. 4, March 1993, pp. 1515-1533) provides a good example of this approach. Other essays more deliberately blend an assessment of particular texts with the author’s consideration of broader questions. Thomas Haskell’s “Objectivity Is Not Neutrality” (History and Theory 29, No. 2, May 1990, pp. 129-157) is a fine example of this approach.
In any case, I am tossing this inquiry out there for the intellectual history hive mind. If you were compiling an anthology of model review essays in American cultural and intellectual history, what would you include? What review essays do you assign to your students? Which ones do you find yourself re-reading before you sit down to write one yourself?
I’ll compile the suggestions into a bibliography and publish it in a future post.