Security Management solicits security experts to review
newly published works in the topics of their specialty. If you would
like to review a book, please contact Flora Szatkowski, book review
editor (703-518-1464; [email protected]), to discuss up-coming titles slated for coverage.
Guidelines. The following guidelines are offered for
consideration when writing a book review, but a reviewer should feel
free to include any pertinent comments not covered here.
Purpose. The “Reviews” column is intended to help Security Management readers buy books intelligently; therefore, the review should not be a synopsis of the book but an analysis of it.
Length. Reviews should run approximately 500–600 words (or
less if there is not that much substantive to say). Copy should be
typed; e-mailed submissions, either as plain text attachments or within
the body of the messages, are ideal, or use fax or mail.
Author information. Reviewers should include a brief
biography, including current job title and any current ASIS volunteer
positions, such as committee member or chapter chairman. Qualifications
for reviewing the book should be noted.
Style. Reviews should be written in the third person.
Instead of writing, “I would strongly recommend this book to security
professionals,” the reviewer should write, “This book would be useful to
any security professional.”
Structure. Avoid a chapter-by-chapter recapitulation of the
book. That is the surest method of losing the reader’s interest, and
reviewers’ most common mistake. Usually, a quick (one paragraph)
overview of the book will suffice. Chapter descriptions should be
included only if the chapter is novel, very well or poorly done, or
Focus. Tell the reader what the author’s focus is and
whether the author achieved the intended goal of the book. For example,
the thrust of the book may be to inform readers about products or
technologies, to give an overall background understanding of the
security industry, or to persuade readers into a particular line of
thinking or method of operation. Other questions of importance that
should be answered include: What are the specific ideas that support or
refute the purpose of the book? Are they clear? Are they sufficiently
substantiated by references, examples, and/or statistics? Does the
author make unfounded claims or is the supporting material weak?
Remember: all statements about the book should be backed up by
examples. If you contend in the review that the book has factual errors,
make sure to say specifically what those are.
The reviewer should decide whether the book lives up to its
purpose—does the author do what he or she claims to do, and if so, how
well? Does the author cover tangential areas and muddy the focus? Does
the author thoroughly cover the subject? If not, what is left out? Is
the subject too broad? Does the author lack the necessary expertise?
Audience. A reviewer should ascertain the book’s audience—is
it meant for the security professional or the security novice? Remember
that writing for the latter is a worthy pursuit, if done effectively.
Would the book appeal to practitioners, instructors, or consultants?
Does the author write to the intended audience successfully?
Personal opinion. The reviewer must divorce his or her
personal convictions from the book review. A reviewer may disagree with
an author even though the book strongly supports and provides evidence
for a particular way of thinking. A reviewer must never disregard a
book’s merit simply because he or she disagrees with its premise. If the
author makes a good case, give the author the credit due.
Quality. The most pertinent question for the reviewer to
answer is whether the book is worthwhile. The reviewer should ascertain
if the information presented is new or merely a recapitulation of old
ideas. The reviewer should decide whether the book gives enduring
information or whether the author merely selected a hot topic to make a
The magazine does not shy away from negative reviews, but any
negative comments must be anchored in supporting evidence. A book should
not be called “a waste of time and money,” for example, without
adequately explaining why. After all, several years’ work by an author
should not be undone by an unsupported comment by a reviewer.
Stylistic features that hinder or help the presentation of
information should be identified. For example, if the author has a
lively style of writing that makes dry material easier to digest, that
should be noted. A reviewer should also discuss the author’s
organization of material, commenting on readability.
If noteworthy, supporting materials should be brought to the reader’s
attention, and their help or hindrance to the book made clear.
Supporting materials include tables, charts, graphs, bibliographies,
drawings, photographs, and appendices.
Star ratings: Reviewers award zero to five stars to the book
based on its overall quality and usefulness. Five stars means
exceptional, three is average, one denotes poor, and zero is reserved
for a worthless book. Half-stars cannot be used.