critical review of Bismark’s “Realpolitik” – Otto Pflanze


An analytic – critical review of Bismark’s “Realpolitik” – Otto Pflanze (No more than 500 words)

Paper details:

An analytic or critical review of a book or article is not primarily a summary; rather, it comments on and
evaluates the work in the light of specific issues and theoretical concerns in a course. The literature review
puts together a set of such commentaries to map out the current range of positions on a topic; then the writer
can define his or her own position in the rest of the paper. Keep questions like these in mind as you read, make
notes, and write the review:

What is the specific topic of the book or article? What overall purpose does it seem to have? For what
readership is it written? (The preface. acknowledgements. bibliography and index can be helpful in answering
these questions. Don’t overlook facts about the author’s background and the circumstances of the book’s
creation and publication.)

Does the author state an explicit thesis? Does he or she noticeably have an axe to grind? What are the
theoretical assumptions? Are they discussed explicitly? (Again. look for statements in the preface. etc. and
follow them up in the rest of the work.)

What exactly does the work contribute to the overall topic of your course? What general problems and
concepts in your discipline and course does it engage with?

What kinds of material does the work present (e.g., primary documents or secondary material, literary
analysis, personal observation. quantitative data, biographical or historical accounts)?

How is this material used to demonstrate and argue the thesis? (As well as indicating the overall structure
of the work, your review could quote or summarise specific passages to show the characteristics of the
author’s presentation, including writing style and tone.)

Are there alternative ways of arguing from the same material? Does the author show awareness of them? In
what respects does the author agree or disagree?

What theoretical issues and topics for further discussion does the work raise?

What are your own reactions and considered opinions regarding the work?

To keep your focus. remind yourself that your assignment is primarily to discuss the book’s treatment
of its topic. not the topic itself. Your key sentences should therefore say “This book shows…the author
argues” rather than


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