Myths & Realities Book Review

Context: This project was an assignment in The Historian’ Craft (HIST 4309), a history minor course I completed while on the Professional and Technical Writing major at the University of Arkansas at Little RockDepartment of Rhetoric and Writing.

Full Title: Myths & Realities: Societies of the Colonial South, by Carl Bridenbaugh: A Review

Project Artifacts:

  1. PowerPoint presentation (deliverable) <See below>
  2. Research notes <View pdf>

Purpose: The assignment had several learning objectives:

  1. To gain experience reviewing a scholarly monograph and fleshing out its thesis and main points;
  2. To critically evaluate an author’s research and argument;
  3. To research a database of scholarly articles such as JSTOR;
  4. To draft a book review according to guidelines provided in assigned readings;
  5. To work to a word count and audio time limit;
  6. To prepare and deliver an organized, succinct oral presentation.

Audience: Course lecturer, classmates, web visitors.

Development: The first step was to review the assigned readings in Jules R. Benjamin’s A Student’s Guide to History1.  Next, I selected a monograph to review: Myths & Realities: Societies of the Colonial South, by Dr. Carl Bridenbaugh.2 Prior to reading the monograph I searched JSTOR and UALR’s Ottenheimer Library for scholarly reviews of my chosen monograph. I selected two to include in my oral presentation.

I took notes while reading the reviews and the monograph, which I later drafted into speaker notes for the presentation. The edited notes also served as an outline/storyboard  to guide the layout of the presentation. I made a final pass to ensure the slides were free of error, omission, repetition, and inconsistency.

Because I live some distance from the university, my choices for delivering the oral presentation were by video or audio. I elected to create a PowerPoint presentation with embedded audio. [Note: For the purposes of this portfolio, I have converted the PowerPoint presentation to wmv video format.]

Reflection: This assignment was so much more than a simple book report: It required a variety of skills to complete. I had to be researcher, critical reader, historian, technical writer, and editor. There were time constraints, so I had to be all these things at the same time.

On the technical side, before creating this oral presentation my experience with PowerPoint was limited. In designing it, I needed to ensure that each slide transitioned logically to the next. By the end of the assignment, however, I was comfortable working in PowerPoint; including embedding images and audio, and converting a presentation to a full-fidelity video for distribution on the Web. And I’m happy with the end result.

Joshua Fry, Approximately, Peter Jefferson, and Thomas Jefferys. A map of the most inhabited part of Virginia containing the whole province of Maryland with part of Pensilvania, New Jersey and North Carolina. [London, Thos. Jefferys, 1755] Map.


  • Created: October 10, 2018
  • Last update: November 15, 2018
  • Tools Used: Microsoft PowerPoint 2010, Microsoft Word 2010
  • Keywords: Presentation, Review, History, Audio, Spoken Word

1. Jules R. Benjamin, A Student’s Guide to History, 13th ed. (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016). Two chapters that served as guides for this project are Benjamin’s Guidelines for Writing a Book Review and Guidelines for Giving an Oral Presentation, pages 99 and 35 respectively.
2. Carl Bridenbaugh, Myths & Realities: Societies of the Colonial South (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1952; New York: Atheneum, 1963).