EJIL: The Podcast! Episode 9: Reviewing Book Reviewing

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Which author of a legal monograph has not had that frustrating feeling — Why is my book not getting reviewed (and his or her book is…!)? And yet, in one of the many exquisite paradoxes of academic life, all Book Review editors of legal journals will attest to the difficulty of getting colleagues to accept to do a book review. ‘I have to read that book carefully (i.e. going beyond the index and checking if I am cited and whether the engagement with my work is ok) and then write a couple of pages which count for nothing in the current lamentable state of quantitative academic appointments and promotions?’ Thank you but no thank you is the usual reply. We want our books reviewed but we don’t like reviewing books. Or as readers of legal book reviews — have you ever had the frustrating feeling of ‘I want to read about the book and this reviewer is just using it to inflict on us his own thoughts and ideas’. Or the opposite — if I want to read a description of the book I can go to the publisher’s website (or the author’s homepage…). Why is this review so bland and lacking in critical bite? 

These are just some of the issues that Cait Storr, Fuad Zarbiyev, EJIL book review editor Christian Tams and EJIL Editors in Chief Sarah Nouwen and Joseph Weiler discuss in this EJIL Live! episode of the podcast. The podcast accompanies issue 31.4 which contains a ‘Bumper’ Book Review section. At the end of the podcast, plans for another EJIL innovation are revealed…

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