Inaccurate review

I received the first published review of my book today from the Library Journal. It’s disappointing. Not because the reviewer pans the book but rather because the reviewer clearly didn’t bother to read what he reviewed. And that results in a horribly inaccurate review that could influence potential buyers. If there are problems with my work, I don’t mind hearing about them. I’m a first time author and I expect to take some criticism. But to face a factually inaccurate portrayal of my work is very discouraging. Here is the review with my rebuttal in brackets:

That Darwinism has been debated since the 1920s suggests that the issue goes beyond the realm of science. As Haught points out, the acceptance of evolution – and particularly the teaching of evolution – is more of an emotional than an intellectual struggle. In what is essentially a “micro history,” Haught shows how the tenor of the debate has shifted over time from William Jennings Bryan’s struggle against “monkey teaching” in the 1920s (Bryan moved to Florida at the conclusion of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial), up to the present. [First clue that the reviewer didn’t read the book is here. Bryan died in Tennessee at the conclusion of the Scopes Trial. He moved to Florida a few years before the trial. I clearly state all of that in the first few pages of the first chapter!]

Each chapter surveys a different time period and examines the types of legislation that were proposed, how each bill sought to moderate evolution’s influence in the classroom, and how the legislation fared. [Second clue that the reviewer didn’t read the book is here. Legislation is but one aspect out of many that I examine. This review gives the impression the book is only about legislation, which is grossly inaccurate.]

For this reviewer, it would have been helpful to hear more about how Haught, a nonacademic, researched the book, as he inadequately explains the differences among the various parts of Florida where these debates play out. [The reviewer highlights that I’m a nonacademic, which is fair. But I’m not sure how the reviewer expected me to explain how the research was done. A quick survey of my extensive notes at the end of the book should have been a satisfactory or at least a partial answer to the reviewer’s concern. As far as my not explaining “the differences among the various parts of Florida,” that’s a fair critique. I could have perhaps included background about some of the counties where the most significant events happened. But I don’t see how that omission relates to my research methods.]

Also, the author’s claim that Florida deserves special scrutiny because it is “a reflection of the whole country” fails to convince. [Fair critique, but I need to point out that I outline why I think it’s a reflection of the whole country in the introduction. But if the reviewer’s opinion is that my overall work didn’t follow through on that, then I can accept that as a valid critique.]

VERDICT This book will likely appeal to a narrow range of readers only. [Anyone who reads this review might be inclined to agree since it inaccurately claims the book is only about legislation.]