Some guidelines for writing a book review for our journal
- HM does not publish ‘book notes’ or short reviews. Reviews vary between 3,000 and 6,000 words (more in exceptional cases) and thus resemble what are conventionally called ‘review essays’ more than anything else.
- HM is a "Journal of critical Marxist theory": all the terms in this description are important to bear in mind when writing a review. Firstly, it is a ‘journal’ and not a political or current affairs magazine, newspaper, bulletin or other type of publication, and the correct register and tone should be sought for this specific type of expression. Secondly, its ‘critical’ aspect consists in each review necessarily containing an argument of the author, both with regard to the book(s) in question but also with regard to the general issues addressed by the book(s). A purely descriptive list of the contents of the book is, therefore, of no interest to the journal, and neither is an uncritical celebration of a the work(s) in question. Thirdly, it is Marxist journal: therefore, not only should the approach in the review be historical-materialist in inspiration, but moreover it should attempt to relate the issues raised by the book(s) reviewed to broader theoretical questions in Marxism. The question ‘What are the broader implications of this question to Marxist theory?’ should always be at the back of the reviewer’s mind. Finally, it is a theoretical journal, and thus purely ‘politicist’ or academic approaches are not suitable for this particular publication: the general project of revivifying Marxist theory should always be considered when writing for HM.
- However, even with all these qualifications, reviews for the journal should abide be some basic criteria for all reviews: i.e. the book(s) under review must actually be discussed (and not simply used as launching pads for the reviewer’s own ideas) in terms of content, structure, and style. Some discussion of the book author’s background, general approach and previous publications is also very useful.
- HM, it should be borne in mind, is an interdisciplinary and internationalist journal, seeking to appeal to all Marxists in all disciplines and in all regions of the world. Therefore, while some technical terminology and conceptual apparatus specific to particular discipline or field may be necessary in a review, it is the reviewer’s responsibility to clarify these for the reader in a non-condescending manner. More generally, the reviewer should always place the work under review in the broader context of theoretical debate in the disciplinary field the work finds itself in such a way that it is comprehensible to a reader from a quite different discipline or with a quite distinct theoretical approach.
- Reviews for HM all go through the same rigorous editorial process as articles. Therefore, all submissions to the journal should be considered a priori as first drafts, and the reviewer should expect to receive comments and suggestions on amendments and additions. Should the reviewer not wish to make the suggested changes, the journal expects that the review copy be returned to the journal (or a replacement copy provided) so that an alternative review can be commissioned.
- All reviews should conform to HM house style when submitted: please bear in mind that references to page numbers of the work(s) under review should be made in the main body of the text, in the form of (p. X), while all other references should be made in the usual manner as footnotes in the form Xxxxx 1994, and the review should include a full bibliography at the end in the usual format.