Essay Review

This essay is worth an A grade primarily because of its strong thesis statement, which aided that paper in many related ways. The thesis addresses the prompt of the essay  accurately by addressing not only the how of the reforms – “…stratified and expanded government roles” – but also the why – “… in order to strengthen Russia’’s international presence and to pacify conflict within and regulate the daily lives of the nobility and townspeople.” The rubric states that in an A paper the thesis is always kept in focus, and in this paper everything revolves around it just as it should.

The thesis also sets the essay up to be organized in a way that is clear and logical to the reader. Each topic sentence harkens back to a certain aspect of the thesis, pairing a ruler with their specific reforms and the reason for that reform. The essay is set up starting with analysis of Peter’s goal to centralize power, then goes on to talk about his desire to strengthen Russia’s military. The focus then switches to Catherine, starting with a comparison between her reforms and Peters and then going on to talk about her own goals of decentralization and control over the population through ranking. The transition paragraph between the analysis of Peter and Catherine is useful for reader to understand how the later paragraphs relate to the first, allowing the author of the essay to avoid having to talk about both rulers throughout and clutter up the essay.

The paper also follows all of the guidelines found in the “Tips on Writing for Me” resource. Besides following the basic formatting and grammar rules, the author also demonstrates an ability to achieve the more complicated goals set. The quotes used throughout the essay are only used when the benefit the argument the most, or are being closely analyzed. They are also always introduced in a way that makes the transition fluid and natural. It does not wear out any particular phrases, and utilizes a variety of sentences structures in composing the argument. The writing of the essay is also very concise: it says only what is needs to in order to get its point across clearly, be that analysis or examples, and nothing extraneous.

Document Analysis 2 Review

The document analysis we read merits an A grade because of its clear and sophisticated thesis, organized paragraphs, and useful corporation of evidence. The thesis, “Peter the Great and Catherine the Great stratified and expanded governmental roles in order to strengthen Russia’s international presence and to pacify conflict within and regulate the daily lives of the nobility and townspeople,” is specific and clear. While this thesis does answer the prompt, it focuses on one particular aspect of the readings: the stratification and ranking of Russian citizens. By narrowing in on one theme in the readings, the paper is able to develop fully its ideas, instead of spreading itself too thin.

Furthermore, the body paragraphs in the paper are organized very well. Each paragraph starts off with a topic sentence which introduces the mini argument within the paragraph. For instance, the second paragraph begins, “This new system also
spoke to Peter’s desire for Westernization, especially his imitating of
European militaries to strengthen Russia’s own armed forces.” With this sentence, the reader understand that the following paragraph will explain that Peter’s desire for Westernization influenced some of his military reforms. The paper then offers an example, article 15 of the Table of Ranks, to support this argument. The paragraph continues by rephrasing that quotation before explaining how it connects to Peter’s larger goal of Westernization. The paragraph concludes with a strong closing sentence.

The organization is also clear in between paragraphs. The paper moves logically from Peter’s reforms to Catherine’s. Moreover, it tries to both show the connections between the two monarchs’ reforms, such as in the third body paragraph, and highlight the disparities between the two, such as in the fourth and fifth body paragraphs.

The paper also uses evidence well. In paraphrasing or quoting the documents once or twice per paragraph, it gives enough evidence without letting the evidence overwhelm the reader. Also, the paper does not quote incessantly; it only quotes when it needs to. However, it still uses evidence by paraphrasing the documents. For example, the fourth body paragraph paraphrases a section in the Charter to the Towns: “The first guild, for instance, was for those with wealth between ten thousand and fifty thousand rubles, whereas members of the third guild possessed between one thousand and five thousand rubles.” Instead of quoting, the author paraphrases here to draw attention to the evidence it needs.

Finally, the paper is free of grammatical errors, and the language is (for the most part) concise and clear. The paper meets the qualifications for an A grade which Professor Qualls has expressed.

Document Analysis 2 Paper Review

This document analysis, which discussed the reforms of Peter I and Catherine II, deserved the A it received. The writer included necessary contextual information for their audience, ensuring that readers would understand the topic. The writing itself is very concise, with each sentence aiding in proving the analysis’s thesis. When absolutely necessary, the author chose to use quotes to prove their point, but mostly paraphrased the historical documents in order to further his argument.

The topic sentences are controvertible and relate directly back to the thesis statement of the document analysis. Making these statements controvertible rather than factual is one of the many reasons that this paper is deemed an ‘A’. The sentences within each paragraph all stay within the constraints of the topic sentence and work towards the ultimate goal of proving the thesis.

In particular, the first body paragraph about Peter’s Table of Ranks incorporates all of the features necessary for receiving an exemplary grade. The paragraph concisely explains the Table of Ranks (providing the “what?” and “how?”) and discusses some of Peter the Great’s motivations for penning the document (providing the “why?”). Direct quotations are completely absent from the paragraph, as the author instead decided to paraphrase information from the document.

Overall, the document analysis provides a well thought out, logical argument, which answers the prompt given. The progression of the analysis is also logical, as the author chose to first discuss Peter I’s reforms and then transition to the reforms of Catherine II. The discussion of Catherine II’s reforms makes the transition seamless because the author first discusses those reforms which were similar to Peter the Great’s, and then continues on to discuss the reforms which were different from those of Peter the Great.

In regards to mechanics, the author correctly cites documents within footnotes on each page. The paper is written using active (rather than passive) voice, which is an important component of any papers written discussing history. Aside from a few grammatical errors and a few spelling errors, the document analysis is completely free from mechanical error.

Document Analysis Paper Review

This paper deserved an A because aside from a perfect spelling and punctuation, the author’s writing was to the point. The paper had no superfluous statements, and each sentences worked toward answering the thesis. In addition, the author does a great job at contextualizing his topic thus making it accessible to any readers.  The usage of quotes followed the same pattern: quotations from the text were only given to illustrate his point while additional references were simply paraphrases.

The argument itself was well constructed: The author’s interpretation of the reign of Peter the Great and Catherine II were correct and logical. Furthermore, the author’s analysis of the documents was used as a mean to both analyze the continuation of the reformist ideals throughout the century, but also changes within reigns, particularly that of Catherine II, thus providing solidity and depth to the argument. Such analysis of the sources allows the author to both give context and prove the thesis.

The structure of the paper was also interesting. In the case of Peter, the author started the argument through a description of the table of ranks, only referring to Peter to articulate that Russia was in need of centralization, therefore making a good usage of topic sentences. Following this brief description, the author then explained Peter’s aim behind the table of ranks as well as the consequences it had on Russia. In the case of Catherine II, this time the author first focused on the environment in which Catherine was at the beginning of her reign, period in which the Charter to the nobility was written. Then proceeded to explain why this environment caused her to create the Charter to the towns. While such method permitted the author to emphasize on Catherine’s reign, it also allowed tying the two periods in a manner that solidified the argument. In other words, the structure of the paper is organized well enough so that it eases the flow of the argument.

Peter I, Catherine II paper review

This paper I an A ranked paper for several reasons. It possesses all of the normal trimmings that are needed to insure that it can function as an academic piece; citations, indentations, correct spelling. It also includes the equally or even more important characteristic of being a well written essay. It has a clear statement of the characters that it will discuss (Peter I, Catherin I) fallowed by a brief statement of the timeframe they lived and worked. Fallowing that is the ever important evidence and a clear and concise thesis contained in one solid sentence. The thesis focuses on the actions that the paper is discussing, in this case the stratified and expanded government roles. The intentions of Peter the Great and Catherin II with their motivations for their actions. Later in the paper the author brings into the argument the evidence listed before the thesis. In order to do this a small amount of historical motivation is always included, often with some quotes. For example when discussing Peter the Great and the “Table of Ranks” the author mentions Peter’s affinity for the westernization of Russia and how that would be a significant motivator.

Once the Author has finished discussing Peter the Great they move on to Catherin II. They completely skip over any mention of the intervening monarchs deciding to spend more of their time properly explaining the relevance of Peter and Catherin. The transition from one monarchs to the next is seamless with a brief interlude discussing both monarchs for context. Thankfully at the beginning of the Catherin there is a much needed interlude explaining the context for Catherin’s actions and her legislation. The author tells us about the Pugachev rebellion in the beginning of her rule which shaped much of her domestic policy.

After explaining and elaborating on the actions and intentions of Catherin II the author turns their attention to what they have just learned. An excerpt from a noted authority starts off the conclusion telling us how the monarchs were perceived by the Russian aristocracy and public. Fallowing that is a brief conclusion stating what the evidence showed the author in their logical argument. There is little to no sugar coating, instead the author tells us that Peter the Great and Catherin II did not truly care about the people. Instead they did what the author believed them to have done and extended government.

Mazower Chapters 1-4 Review

In the first four chapters of Mark Mazower’s Dark Continent, Mazower brings the reader through an enlightening perspective of how fascism, communism, and liberalism molded the progression of twentieth century Europe. Mazower carefully crafts his explanation of the successes and failures of different Nations attempts to organize and modernize in an era with a newly found sense of nationalism and social hierarchy. Dark Continent extrapolates upon which economic policies and government types seemed ideal and which ones were effective for their time and place, and why.

Mazower puts a strong emphasis on the importance of fascist, socialist, and communist ideologies that were crucial for European development in the first half of the twentieth century. He explains why libertarianism, parliaments, and newfound constitutions, which seemed to be the right step forward, failed at the time. Mazower also illustrates why more seemingly primitive governmental structures prevailed. Dark Continent is the first book I have read which highlights the importance of fascism while simultaneously explaining the failures of libertarianism and capitalism.

Despite its stubborn density, the book keeps the reader entertained through a selection of commentary which ranges from legal theorists to poets which helps encapsulate the zeitgeist. The book’s sources are plentiful and legitimate. Mazower brilliantly blends primary and secondary sources in order to lay a strong historical foundation and brings it to life with outside anecdotes and remarks. For example, Mazower uses an amusing sarcastic comment from a critic of the French socialist leadership who wrote, “It was necessary to be prudent…We were not to advance towards power because that would be too dangerous; we would be crushed by the resistance of capitalism itself…We are to advance nowhere!” (p. 134). This quote enabled me to properly imagine the frustration that the French were feeling at the time. Mazower’s ability to consistently intertwine cultural emotions in a historical context is incredible.

The chapters are divided into subsections and occasional space breaks which helps enable the reader to switch tracks while maintaining focus. This is helpful because although it is well written, the rapid pace at which Mazower presents critical information can be daunting. The writing itself is very clear and concise, the organization of his ideas allow for a smooth read. I have yet to re-read anything under the impression that I missed something. Dark Continent is geared towards highly educated readers, and I would not recommend it to be applied to a pre-collegiate level audience. This is not a book which can be read passively.

Critical Review of Mazower

The first four chapters of Mark Mazower’s Dark Continent offer readers a look into the European political, economic and social developments of the Interwar Era. Mazower’s main argument is that many factors influenced the political path that Europe followed: meaning that democracy was not an obvious or guaranteed form of government on the continent.

The changes that were rocking the continent at this time are clearly explained in the book using comparisons as many similarities were seen in countries across the continent. Mazower’s analysis of the way in which both right and left wing political movements gained traction during this period made especially good use of comparison to illustrate the trends throughout Europe. Through this level of comparison, Mazower displays an in depth understanding of the continent’s complexities. These nuances are presented to readers without becoming entirely overwhelming—a difficult task.

The book illustrates a deep understanding of the period in its use of anecdotes and quotations, but these details are very dense to read. Because so many quotations and examples are used, there is a lot of information to process and comprehend while reading. Moreover, the fluidity of Mazower’s own analysis is continually interrupted. Mazower assumes some level of knowledge on the part of the reader, especially in his explanations of events. He refers to many different political figures of the era, with little or no description of who they were and what they did.

Dark Continent does, however, address all of the major themes of the period with a sense of completion that is difficult to find. The book was published in 1998, and was very well received for the originality of many of its arguments. Since it’s publication, it has become a book that has informed many other historians and the perspectives present in their work. Mazower’s analysis of the political movements of the 1920s and 1930s has been used to explain political evolution in works about the Interwar Period and World War II. Julian Jackson’s France: the Dark Years (2003) addresses many of the same themes that Mazower touches upon.

The book does have some weaknesses that impact how the book should and must be read and received. The lack of bibliography at the end of the book prevents readers from being able to see his sources organized by type. The endnotes do reveal that Mazower relied heavily upon secondary sources, listing a very limited number of primary sources. This does not detract from the level of interpretation and study illustrated in the book; however, this does change the way in which the book needs to be read and studied, because it is not largely based on original research—which is surprising given that he wrote in the late 1990s about the Soviet Union, when Soviet archives had opened up to foreign researchers.

Despite the limited number of weaknesses displayed in the book, Mazower’s Dark Continent is an incredible resource for students and scholars studying inter-war Europe.