• Homework Help
  • Essay Examples
  • Citation Generator

Writing Guides

  • Essay Title Generator
  • Essay Topic Generator
  • Essay Outline Generator
  • Flashcard Generator
  • Plagiarism Checker
  • Paraphrasing Tool
  • Conclusion Generator
  • Thesis Statement Generator
  • Introduction Generator
  • Literature Review Generator
  • Hypothesis Generator
  • Editing Service

Writing Guides  /  How to Write the Perfect Book Report (4 easy steps)

How to Write the Perfect Book Report (4 easy steps)

how to write a book report


Writing the perfect book report shouldn’t be as daunting as it sounds.  With the right help, you can do it in no time at all.  In just four easy steps we’ll show you how.  First, let’s lay the groundwork and cover some basics—like, what is a book report?  What’s the difference between a book report and a book review?  And what kind of template or outline would you use?  We’ll give you all that and more.  Let’s get going!

What is a Book Report

In one sense, the best way to understand a book report is to understand what it is not.  A book report is not a critical analysis.  It is not an exhaustive examination.  It is not an evaluation or a synthesis of scholarly research regarding the book’s merits or intentions.  A book report is quite literally a report of what the book is—i.e., an objective report.  Like any report, you are sticking to the facts.

So, what facts?  Facts like:  the title, the author, the year of publication, the genre, the plot, the characters, and the themes.  The book report is basically a summary of everything about the book.  It describes the book from an objective point of view, as impartially as possible.

Difference between a Book Report and a Book Review

It’s easy to confuse a book report for a book review.  After all, they sound similar.  But they are really quite different.

A book report is informational.  A book review is critical.

A book report focuses on summarizing the book’s plot.  It may describe the characters, the setting, the author’s style of writing, where the book fits within a particular genre, what the author does in the book that resonates with or departs from what he has done in the past.  In other words, the book report tells the facts.  One can imagine the reader being a jury, and the book report is the lawyer telling the jury everything the book has done.  Subjective arguments or criticisms are not admissible.  Just the facts, and nothing but the facts.

A book review is much more than a book report.  The review analyzes, criticizes, reflects on and evaluates the merits of the book.  It can apply any theoretical perspective it wants to draw out an argument or present the book in a different light.  The review is more subjective in that sense; it is not about reporting the facts but rather about interpreting them.  The review is just that—an interpretation of the book.  It can discuss the strengths and/or weaknesses of the book.  The report, however, is a presentation of the facts of the book.  It does not weigh them or judge them; it merely presents them without commentary.

Now, with that said, it is important to remember that a book report does allow one the space to offer one’s own personal response to the book.  This is usually added at the end of the report and should only be a small section in relation to the rest of the review.  The personal reflection is not the main point of the book report.  It is rather a kind of add-on where the report opens itself up a bit to allow some review to get in.  Not much—just a little.  Otherwise, the report risks turning into a review—and that is not what should happen!

Book Report Template

A book report template is simply a standard approach to composing your report.  Here is an example of what that might look like, using To Kill a Mockingbird .

Title: To Kill a Mockingbird Author: Harper Lee Published: 1960 Genre: Southern Gothic, Bildungsroman (Coming-of-Age), Courtroom Drama

To Kill a Mockingbird is set in the town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Great Depression. The story is narrated by Scout Finch, a young girl, and follows her and her brother Jem as they confront issues of morality, honor, justice/injustice, racism, fear, and prejudice in their own community. Their father, Atticus Finch, is for all intents and purposes a noble man who represents the moral backbone of the story:  he is an honest lawyer who is appointed to defend Tom Robinson, a Black man falsely accused of raping a white woman, Mayella Ewell. The trial exposes some of the flaws of the people of the town.  Finch does a stand-up job of defending the innocent Tom, but in spite of the clear evidence showing Tom’s innocence, he is still convicted.  Some justice is done, however, in the end, as the true nature of Tom’s accuser is revealed—unfortunately it is a bloody ending.  Meanwhile, Scout and Jem also wrestle with their fascination and fear of their reclusive neighbor, Boo Radley, who ultimately becomes an unexpected protector and savior of the children.

  • Scout Finch: The young, spirited narrator of the story.
  • Jem Finch: Scout’s older brother, who shares in her adventures.
  • Atticus Finch: Their father, a lawyer with a strong sense of justice and what is right.
  • Tom Robinson: The black man unjustly accused of rape.
  • Boo Radley: The mysterious and reclusive neighbor.
  • Mayella Ewell: The white woman who falsely accuses Tom Robinson.
  • Bob Ewell: Mayella’s racist and abusive father.

The novel focuses on themes of growing up, morality, racism, justice, and the mystery of human nature.  It could be called the original anti-cancel culture novel, as it deals ultimately with questions of empathy and understanding.

Writing Style

Harper Lee uses a first-person narrative style:  the story is seen and told through the eyes of the young girl Scout. This perspective gives the story a layer of innocence, authenticity, novelty, and sincerity.  It also opens the door for mature reflections on serious social issues thanks to insights given by Scout’s wise father Atticus. The Southern Gothic genre is evident in the setting and the exploration of social issues, the suspense, the violence, and the threatening issues underlying the plot.

Personal Reflection

I found this book to be a very good and a very powerful exploration of morality and justice, full of suspense and examples of good character.  Atticus Finch stands out as a just man doing good work and teaching good lessons.  The other characters are also well-developed, and the narrative style is effective in bringing together all the different genres.  The novel basically asks readers to reflect on their own lives and try to live to a high standard.

In conclusion, To Kill a Mockingbird is a modern classic and a novel that is as surprising and relevant today as it was some sixty years ago when it was first published.  As the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.  The fact that this novel still feels powerful even though generations have passed indicates that the issues it touches on are still very much in play today.  Plus, Harper Lee’s masterful prose, plotting, insight, and characters make this a must-read novel for all adolescent and adult readers.

View 120,000+ High Quality Essay Examples

Learn-by-example to improve your academic writing

Book Report Outline

A basic book report outline can also help you with your composition.  Let’s look at an example using the book 1984 by George Orwell.

I.  Introduction

a.  Identify the author, the book, the year of publication, and the plot.

b.  Identify the genre: political/social satire; dystopian fiction

c.  Identify the main themes: totalitarianism and loss of free will.

d.  Identify the concepts: War is Peace; newspeak; doublethink.

e.  State the thesis—i.e., the main point of the review.

II.  Summary

a.  Setting

i.  Oceania

ii.  Inside and Outside the Party

b.  Main Characters

i.  Winston Smith—hero who questions the Party line and dares to oppose it, only to be crushed into subservience in the end

ii.  O’Brien—the seemingly well-meaning high-ranking Party member who lures the rebel lovers Winston and Julia back into the Party line

iii.  Julia—Winston’s love interest

iv.  Big Brother—the totalitarian government that spies on all, twists the meaning of words, and rewrites history to its purposes

v.  Emmanuel Goldstein—the mythical enemy of Oceania whose existence is used to justify the Party’s authoritarianism and totalitarianism

i.  Winston begins to doubt the Party line

ii.  He breaks with Party orthodoxy

iii.  He finds a kindred spirit in Julia and they begin a romance

iv.  The discovery a world outside the controls of Big Brother—a world where nature, authenticity, beauty, and harmony still exist

v.  Winston and Julia are betrayed by O’Brien and tortured into submission

vii.  Winston

III.  Themes

a.  Totalitarianism—Big Brother represents the totalitarianism of the novel

b.  Loss of free will—Winston breaks free from Big Brother, but comes up empty in the end because he has nothing stronger than the Party with which to combat O’Brien

IV.  Concepts

a.  War is Peace—a motto of the Party and an example of how Big Brother subverts common sense by promoting falsehood as truth

b.  Newspeak—the Party’s language, which denies reality by lying about what words mean

c.  Doublethink—when the Party’s indoctrination is so successful that one can hold two simultaneously contradictory thoughts in one’s head without trouble

V.  Personal Reflection

a.  Great book—a bit difficult to read at times—but very solid in terms of concepts that reflect the modern world

b.  Too close to reality in some ways

VI.  Conclusion

a.  Reiterate the main points

b.  What is the legacy of the book?

c.  Do you recommend it?

how can you start off a book report

How to Write a Book Report (4 steps)

Before you start writing the book report, you need to read the book carefully and attentively.  As you read, take notes on important details such as the main characters, setting, key events, and any significant themes or symbols.  Pay attention to your own reactions to the book and any questions that you may have as you read. This preparatory step is essential as it provides the foundation for your book report.       You will use the notes you take during this step to write the report.

Once you have finished reading the book and have taken thorough notes, it is time to start organizing your thoughts. Create an outline to structure your report like the one in the example above.  Make sure you over all the necessary components. A typical book report includes information about the book:  summary of the plot, main characters, themes, writing style, genre, author, and so on.  The facts!  The best way to organize them is to create an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.  In the introduction, state your purpose.  In the body, stick to the main points—summary, characters, themes, etc.  In the conclusion, restate the purpose in new words and give your own personal recommendation.

Time to write the report!  With your notes and outline in hand, start writing. Follow the structure of your outline, so that every section flows logically to the next.  Use clear and concise language; use transitional sentences; avoid slang and casual language; and remember to be as objective as possible—no personal opinions or interpretations.  Save that for the personal reflection at the end.  It is also good practice to give specific examples from the book to support your report.

Edit and revise.  This is one of the most important steps, and unfortunately it is one that a lot of people avoid.  Just because you have written a first draft does not mean you are done.  Now you have to make sure it is devoid of mistakes.  Read over it twice, checking grammar, punctuation, style, and accuracy.  Make sure everything you have written is on topic and valid.  Correct any mistakes.  If you’re unsure, get a second opinion from someone who can help.

Book Report Example

Title: Fahrenheit 451 Author: Ray Bradbury Published: 1953 Genre: Dystopian Fiction; Science-Fiction

Fahrenheit 451 is a mid-20 th century science-fiction dystopian novel written by Ray Bradbury.  The setting is a future society where books are banned and “firemen” don’t put out fires—they start them.  Their job is to burn unlawful hoarding of books. The reason?  The old ways, wisdom, and knowledge of the Old World is deemed dangerous by the powers that be.  In other words, the world is upside down; common sense is uncommon, and truth is oppressed.  The hero of the book is Guy Montag.  Like Winston Smith in Orwell’s 1984, Montag begins to question the orthodoxy of the regime in power.  Then he steps out of line.  The result is a total change in life direction.  This book report will summarize the plot, identify the characters and themes of the novel, and provide a recommendation.

The novel opens with Guy Montag happily burning books as part of his job as a fireman. However, his contentment is disrupted when he meets his new neighbor, Clarisse McClellan, a young woman who opens his eyes to the beauty of nature. She opens a door for Montag that he did not know existed.

Guy becomes disillusioned with his work and begins to collect books and hide them in his home. His wife, Mildred, is obsessed with interactive television and is indifferent to Montag’s concerns. Montag contacts a former English professor named Faber for help in understanding the books he has collected.

Montag’s life unravels when his wife reports him, and he is forced to burn his own house down. In a fit of rage, he also kills his boss, Captain Beatty, with a flamethrower. Montag becomes a fugitive, on the run from the regime’s Mechanical Hound and the authorities.

In the end, Montag escapes the oppressive city and finds a group of friends who are like him:  they are led by a man named Granger. They welcome him, and he learns about their plan to preserve books by memorizing their contents. The novel closes with Montag looking forward to a better future where the Old World wisdom and art is honored and restored.

Themes, Genre, and Style

One of the themes of the book is censorship; but if one looks more closely one sees that dehumanization is actually the bigger theme.  The book is about what it means to be disconnected from society, to live vicariously through TV, and to be so denatured that the natural world seems abhorrent.  The novel criticizes the isolating effects of technology, as shown by Mildred’s obsession with her TV screens.

Bradbury uses an easy-to-read literary style within the science-fiction dystopian genre to paint a concerning view of the here and now. The book reads as a warning about where society is heading if it continues to censor anyone who clings to the old ways in the face of the “progress” pushed by the regime.

Fahrenheit 451 is a modern classic—a great book that I whole-heartedly recommend.  It is a terrific reminder of what we have and what we can lose if we fail to take care of our literary heritage.  It is not just the knowledge, beauty, wisdom and art of these books that might be lost; it is also our own humanity.

There!  At last, you should have a really good idea of how to write the perfect book report.  If you follow these recommendations, that work you may have been putting off might now just be able to basically write itself.  Trust us, we’ve been doing this for years!  Stick to our steps, and you won’t have any further difficulties when it comes to your next book report.  Happy writing…

Take the first step to becoming a better academic writer.

Writing tools.

  • How to write a research proposal 2021 guide
  • Guide to citing in MLA
  • Guide to citing in APA format
  • Chicago style citation guide
  • Harvard referencing and citing guide
  • How to complete an informative essay outline

How to Write a Synthesis Essay: Tips and Techniques

How to Write a Synthesis Essay: Tips and Techniques

Why Using Chat-GPT for Writing Your College Essays is Not Smart

Why Using Chat-GPT for Writing Your College Essays is Not Smart

The Importance of an Outline in Writing a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

The Importance of an Outline in Writing a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

A Guide to Choosing the Perfect Compare and Contrast Essay Topic

A Guide to Choosing the Perfect Compare and Contrast Essay Topic

how can you start off a book report

How to Write a Book Report

Use the links below to jump directly to any section of this guide:

Book Report Fundamentals

Preparing to write, an overview of the book report format, how to write the main body of a book report, how to write a conclusion to a book report, reading comprehension and book reports, book report resources for teachers .

Book reports remain a key educational assessment tool from elementary school through college. Sitting down to close read and critique texts for their content and form is a lifelong skill, one that benefits all of us well beyond our school years. With the help of this guide, you’ll develop your reading comprehension and note-taking skills. You’ll also find resources to guide you through the process of writing a book report, step-by-step, from choosing a book and reading actively to revising your work. Resources for teachers are also included, from creative assignment ideas to sample rubrics.

Book reports follow general rules for composition, yet are distinct from other types of writing assignments. Central to book reports are plot summaries, analyses of characters and themes, and concluding opinions. This format differs from an argumentative essay or critical research paper, in which impartiality and objectivity is encouraged. Differences also exist between book reports and book reviews, who do not share the same intent and audience. Here, you’ll learn the basics of what a book report is and is not.

What Is a Book Report?

"Book Report" ( ThoughtCo )

This article, written by a professor emeritus of rhetoric and English, describes the defining characteristics of book reports and offers observations on how they are composed.

"Writing a Book Report" (Purdue OWL)

Purdue’s Online Writing Lab outlines the steps in writing a book report, from keeping track of major characters as you read to providing adequate summary material.

"How to Write a Book Report" ( Your Dictionary )

This article provides another helpful guide to writing a book report, offering suggestions on taking notes and writing an outline before drafting. 

"How to Write a Successful Book Report" ( ThoughtCo )

Another post from ThoughtCo., this article highlights the ten steps for book report success. It was written by an academic advisor and college enrollment counselor.

What’s the Difference Between a Book Report and an Essay?

"Differences Between a Book Report & Essay Writing" ( Classroom)

In this article from the education resource Classroom,  you'll learn the differences and similarities between book reports and essay writing.

"Differences Between a Book Report and Essay Writing" (SeattlePi.com)

In this post from a Seattle newspaper's website, memoirist Christopher Cascio highlights how book report and essay writing differ.

"The Difference Between Essays and Reports" (Solent Online Learning)

This PDF from Southampton Solent University includes a chart demonstrating the differences between essays and reports. Though it is geared toward university students, it will help students of all levels understand the differing purposes of reports and analytical essays.

What’s the Difference Between a Book Report and a Book Review?

"How to Write a Book Review and a Book Report" (Concordia Univ.)

The library at Concordia University offers this helpful guide to writing book report and book reviews. It defines differences between the two, then presents components that both forms share.

"Book Reviews" (Univ. of North Carolina)

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s writing guide shows the step-by-step process of writing book reviews, offering a contrast to the composition of book reports.

Active reading and thoughtful preparation before you begin your book report are necessary components of crafting a successful piece of writing. Here, you’ll find tips and resources to help you learn how to select the right book, decide which format is best for your report, and outline your main points.

Selecting and Finding a Book

"30 Best Books for Elementary Readers" (Education.com)

This article from Education.com lists 30 engaging books for students from kindergarten through fifth grade. It was written by Esme Raji Codell, a teacher, author, and children's literature specialist.

"How to Choose a Good Book for a Report (Middle School)" (WikiHow)

This WikiHow article offers suggestions for middle schoolers on how to choose the right book for a report, from getting started early on the search process to making sure you understand the assignment's requirements.

"Best Book-Report Books for Middle Schoolers" (Common Sense Media)

Common Sense Media has compiled this list of 25 of the best books for middle school book reports. For younger students, the article suggests you check out the site's "50 Books All Kids Should Read Before They're 12."

"50 Books to Read in High School" (Lexington Public Library)

The Lexington, Kentucky Public Library has prepared this list to inspire high school students to choose the right book. It includes both classics and more modern favorites.

The Online Computer Library Center's catalogue helps you locate books in libraries near you, having itemized the collections of 72,000 libraries in 170 countries.

Formats of Book Reports

"Format for Writing a Book Report" ( Your Dictionary )

Here, Your Dictionary supplies guidelines for the basic book report format. It describes what you'll want to include in the heading, and what information to include in the introductory paragraph. Be sure to check these guidelines against your teacher's requirements.

"The Good Old Book Report" (Scholastic)

Nancy Barile’s blog post for Scholastic lists the questions students from middle through high school should address in their book reports.

How to Write an Outline

"Writer’s Web: Creating Outlines" (Univ. of Richmond)

The University of Richmond’s Writing Center shows how you can make use of micro and macro outlines to organize your argument.

"Why and How to Create a Useful Outline" (Purdue OWL)

Purdue’s Online Writing Lab demonstrates how outlines can help you organize your report, then teaches you how to create outlines.

"Creating an Outline" (EasyBib)

EasyBib, a website that generates bibliographies, offers sample outlines and tips for creating your own. The article encourages you to think about transitions and grouping your notes.

"How to Write an Outline: 4 Ways to Organize Your Thoughts" (Grammarly)

This blog post from a professional writer explains the advantages of using an outline, and presents different ways to gather your thoughts before writing.

In this section, you’ll find resources that offer an overview of how to write a book report, including first steps in preparing the introduction. A good book report's introduction hooks the reader with strong opening sentences and provides a preview of where the report is going.

"Step-by-Step Outline for a Book Report" ( Classroom )

This article from Classroom furnishes students with a guide to the stages of writing a book report, from writing the rough draft to revising.

"Your Roadmap to a Better Book Report" ( Time4Writing )

Time4Writing offers tips for outlining your book report, and describes all of the information that the introduction, body, and conclusion should include.

"How to Start a Book Report" ( ThoughtCo)

This ThoughtCo. post, another by academic advisor and college enrollment counselor Grace Fleming, demonstrates how to write a pithy introduction to your book report.

"How to Write an Introduction for a Book Report" ( Classroom )

This brief but helpful post from Classroom  details what makes a good book report introduction, down to the level of individual sentences.

The body paragraphs of your book report accomplish several goals: they describe the plot, delve more deeply into the characters and themes that make the book unique, and include quotations and examples from the book. Below are some resources to help you succeed in summarizing and analyzing your chosen text.

Plot Summary and Description

"How Do You Write a Plot Summary?" ( Reference )

This short article presents the goals of writing a plot summary, and suggests a word limit. It emphasizes that you should stick to the main points and avoid including too many specific details, such as what a particular character wears.

"How to Write a Plot for a Book Report" ( The Pen & The Pad )

In this article from a resource website for writers, Patricia Harrelson outlines what information to include in a plot summary for a book report. 

"How to Write a Book Summary" (WikiHow)

Using Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as an example, this WikiHow article demonstrates how to write a plot summary one step at a time.

Analyzing Characters and Themes

"How to Write a Character Analysis Book Report" ( The Pen & The Pad )

Kristine Tucker shows how to write a book report focusing on character. You can take her suggestions as they are, or consider  incorporating them into the more traditional book report format.

"How to Write a Character Analysis" (YouTube)

The SixMinuteScholar Channel utilizes analysis of the film  Finding Nemo to show you how to delve deeply into character, prioritizing inference over judgment.

"How to Define Theme" ( The Editor's Blog )

Fiction editor Beth Hill contributes an extended definition of theme. She also provides examples of common themes, such as "life is fragile."

"How to Find the Theme of a Book or Short Story" ( ThoughtCo )

This blog post from ThoughtCo. clarifies the definition of theme in relation to symbolism, plot, and moral. It also offers examples of themes in literature, such as love, death, and good vs. evil.

Selecting and Integrating Quotations

"How to Choose and Use Quotations" (Santa Barbara City College)

This guide from a college writing center will help you choose which quotations to use in your book report, and how to blend quotations with your own words.

"Guidelines for Incorporating Quotes" (Ashford Univ.)

This PDF from Ashford University's Writing Center introduces the ICE method for incorporating quotations: introduce, cite, explain.

"Quote Integration" (YouTube)

This video from The Write Way YouTube channel illustrates how to integrate quotations into writing, and also explains how to cite those quotations.

"Using Literary Quotations" (Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison)

This guide from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Writing Center helps you emphasize your analysis of a quotation, and explains how to incorporate quotations into your text.

Conclusions to any type of paper are notoriously tricky to write. Here, you’ll learn some creative ways to tie up loose ends in your report and express your own opinion of the book you read. This open space for sharing opinions that are not grounded in critical research is an element that often distinguishes book reports from other types of writing.

"How to Write a Conclusion for a Book Report" ( Classroom )

This brief article from the education resource  Classroom illustrates the essential points you should make in a book report conclusion.

"Conclusions" (Univ. of North Carolina)

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Writing Center lays out strategies for writing effective conclusions. Though the article is geared toward analytical essay conclusions, the tips offered here will also help you write a strong book report.

"Ending the Essay: Conclusions" (Harvard College Writing Center)

Pat Bellanca’s article for Harvard University’s Writing Center presents ways to conclude essays, along with tips. Again, these are suggestions for concluding analytical essays that can also be used to tie up a book report's loose ends.

Reading closely and in an engaged manner is the strong foundation upon which all good book reports are built. The resources below will give you a picture of what active reading looks like, and offer strategies to assess and improve your reading comprehension. Further, you’ll learn how to take notes—or “annotate” your text—making it easier to find important information as you write.

How to Be an Active Reader

"Active Reading Strategies: Remember and Analyze What You Read" (Princeton Univ.)

Princeton University’s McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning recommends ten strategies for active reading, and includes sample diagrams.

"Active Reading" (Open Univ.)

The Open University offers these techniques for reading actively alongside video examples. The author emphasizes that you should read for comprehension—not simply to finish the book as quickly as possible.

"7 Active Reading Strategies for Students" ( ThoughtCo )

In this post, Grace Fleming outlines seven methods for active reading. Her suggestions include identifying unfamiliar words and finding the main idea. 

"5 Active Reading Strategies for Textbook Assignments" (YouTube)

Thomas Frank’s seven-minute video demonstrates how you can retain the most important information from long and dense reading material.

Assessing Your Reading Comprehension

"Macmillan Readers Level Test" (MacMillan)

Take this online, interactive test from a publishing company to find out your reading level. You'll be asked a number of questions related to grammar and vocabulary.

"Reading Comprehension Practice Test" (ACCUPLACER)

ACCUPLACER is a placement test from The College Board. This 20-question practice test will help you see what information you retain after reading short passages.

"Reading Comprehension" ( English Maven )

The English Maven site has aggregated exercises and tests at various reading levels so you can quiz your reading comprehension skills.

How to Improve Your Reading Comprehension

"5 Tips for Improving Reading Comprehension" ( ThoughtCo )

ThoughtCo. recommends five tips to increase your reading comprehension ability, including reading with tools such as highlighters, and developing new vocabulary.

"How to Improve Reading Comprehension: 8 Expert Tips" (PrepScholar)

This blog post from PrepScholar provides ideas for improving your reading comprehension, from expanding your vocabulary to discussing texts with friends.

CrashCourse video: "Reading Assignments" (YouTube)

This CrashCourse video equips you with tools to read more effectively. It will help you determine how much material you need to read, and what strategies you can use to absorb what you read.

"Improving Reading Comprehension" ( Education Corner )

From a pre-reading survey through post-reading review, Education Corner  walks you through steps to improve reading comprehension.

Methods of In-text Annotation

"The Writing Process: Annotating a Text" (Hunter College)

This article from Hunter College’s Rockowitz Writing Center outlines how to take notes on a text and provides samples of annotation.

"How To Annotate Text While Reading" (YouTube)

This video from the SchoolHabits YouTube channel presents eleven annotation techniques you can use for better reading comprehension.

"5 Ways To Annotate Your Books" ( Book Riot )

This article from the Book Riot  blog highlights five efficient annotation methods that will save you time and protect your books from becoming cluttered with unnecessary markings.

"How Do You Annotate Your Books?" ( Epic Reads )

This post from Epic Reads highlights how different annotation methods work for different people, and showcases classic methods from sticky notes to keeping a reading notebook.

Students at every grade level can benefit from writing book reports, which sharpen critical reading skills. Here, we've aggregated sources to help you plan book report assignments and develop rubrics for written and oral book reports. You’ll also find alternative book report assessment ideas that move beyond the traditional formats.

Teaching Elementary School Students How to Write Book Reports

"Book Reports" ( Unique Teaching Resources )

These reading templates courtesy of Unique Teaching Resources make great visual aids for elementary school students writing their first book reports.

"Elementary Level Book Report Template" ( Teach Beside Me )

This   printable book report template from a teacher-turned-homeschooler is simple, classic, and effective. It asks basic questions, such as "who are the main characters?" and "how did you feel about the main characters?"

"Book Reports" ( ABC Teach )

ABC Teach ’s resource directory includes printables for book reports on various subjects at different grade levels, such as a middle school biography book report form and a "retelling a story" elementary book report template.

"Reading Worksheets" ( Busy Teacher's Cafe )

This page from Busy Teachers’ Cafe contains book report templates alongside reading comprehension and other language arts worksheets.

Teaching Middle School and High School Students How to Write Book Reports

"How to Write a Book Report: Middle and High School Level" ( Fact Monster)

Fact Monster ’s Homework Center discusses each section of a book report, and explains how to evaluate and analyze books based on genre for students in middle and high school.

"Middle School Outline Template for Book Report" (Trinity Catholic School)

This PDF outline template breaks the book report down into manageable sections for seventh and eighth graders by asking for specific information in each paragraph.

"Forms for Writing a Book Report for High School" ( Classroom )

In this article for Classroom,  Elizabeth Thomas describes what content high schoolers should focus on when writing their book reports.

"Forms for Writing a Book Report for High School" ( The Pen & The Pad )

Kori Morgan outlines techniques for adapting the book report assignment to the high school level in this post for The Pen & The Pad .

"High School Book Lists and Report Guidelines" (Highland Hall Waldorf School)

These sample report formats, grading paradigms, and tips are collected by Highland Hall Waldorf School. Attached are book lists by high school grade level.

Sample Rubrics

"Book Review Rubric Editable" (Teachers Pay Teachers)

This free resource from Teachers Pay Teachers allows you to edit your book report rubric to the specifications of your assignment and the grade level you teach.

"Book Review Rubric" (Winton Woods)

This PDF rubric from a city school district includes directions to take the assignment long-term, with follow-up exercises through school quarters.

"Multimedia Book Report Rubric" ( Midlink Magazine )

Perfect for oral book reports, this PDF rubric from North Carolina State University's Midlink Magazine  will help you evaluate your students’ spoken presentations.

Creative Book Report Assignments

"25 Book Report Alternatives" (Scholastic)

This article from the Scholastic website lists creative alternatives to the standard book report for pre-kindergarteners through high schoolers.

"Fresh Ideas for Creative Book Reports" ( Education World )

Education World offers nearly 50 alternative book report ideas in this article, from a book report sandwich to a character trait diagram.

"A Dozen Ways to Make Amazingly Creative Book Reports" ( We Are Teachers )

This post from We Are Teachers puts the spotlight on integrating visual arts into literary study through multimedia book report ideas.

"More Ideas Than You’ll Ever Use for Book Reports" (Teachnet.com)

This list from Teachnet.com includes over 300 ideas for book report assignments, from "interviewing" a character to preparing a travel brochure to the location in which the book is set.

"Fifty Alternatives to the Book Report" (National Council of Teachers of English)

In this PDF resource from the NCTE's  English Journal,  Diana Mitchell offers assignment ideas ranging from character astrology signs to a character alphabet.

  • PDFs for all 136 Lit Terms we cover
  • Downloads of 1929 LitCharts Lit Guides
  • Teacher Editions for every Lit Guide
  • Explanations and citation info for 40,694 quotes across 1929 books
  • Downloadable (PDF) line-by-line translations of every Shakespeare play

Need something? Request a new guide .

How can we improve? Share feedback .

LitCharts is hiring!

The LitCharts.com logo.

Site Logo

  • Ghost Writing
  • Proofreading
  • Book Copyrights
  • Book Promotion
  • e-Book Writing
  • Blog Writing
  • Website Content Writing
  • Article Writing
  • Book Video Trailer
  • Author Website
  • Case Studies
  • Testimonials
  • +1 628 227 3315
  • Book a Call
  • Get a Quote

Sign Up Now & Let’s Get Started

How to write a book report: 9 simple steps.


  • January 8, 2024

facebook sharing icon

Table of Contents:

Step 1: choose the book, step 2: read the book carefully, step 3: take notes, step 4: understand the assignment guidelines, step 5: outline., step 6: write a draft, step 7: analyze and evaluate, step 8: conclude thoughtfully, step 9: submit or share, conclusion:.

How to Write a Book Report: 9 Simple Steps

Book Report

Press The Play Button On The Audio To Listen Complete Article!

When writing a book report, you want to do more than just list the characters’ names, describe the plot, and summarize the action. You want to give a thoughtful analysis of each of these aspects and provide a context for your ideas by explaining how your experience reading the book affected your reaction to it.

But what if you’ve never written a book report before? What if you’ve only read one or two and gotten an F on them? How can you write a great book report?

That’s why we put together this guide: by following our 9 simple steps, you’ll be able to learn how to write a book report that will wow both your teacher and yourself!

To learn how to write a report, you must first pick up a book.

When choosing a book, many options are available, especially from American book writers . Look for authors who have made significant contributions to literature and have a writing style that resonates with you.

Consider the genre and subject matter that you find intriguing. Whether it’s a classic novel, a thought-provoking non-fiction work, or a contemporary bestseller, ensure it fits your assignment or personal reading goals.

An important aspect to consider is your comprehension level. It’s essential to choose a book that you can understand and engage with fully. If the language or complexity of the book is too challenging, it might hinder your enjoyment and comprehension. To avoid this, you can read reviews or sample chapters to understand the writing style and difficulty level.

Additionally, think about how the chosen book aligns with your interests. Reading something that genuinely captivates you will make the journey more enjoyable. It will also encourage you to delve deeper, analyze different aspects, and gain a more profound understanding of the book’s themes and messages.

When reading the book, it’s crucial to approach it with careful attention and focus. As you delve into the pages, make note of the essential elements, such as the plot, characters, and themes. Doing this step will help you learn how to write a book report.

Take time to understand the details of the story and how they interconnect. Pay attention to any notable quotes or passages that resonate with you.

It’s also important to consider the author’s writing style and the book’s overall tone. Some authors have a poetic or descriptive style, while others may have a more straightforward and concise approach. Understanding the writing style can enhance your appreciation for the book and help you analyze how effectively the author communicates their ideas.

Experienced book publishers play a vital role in the selection and publication of books. They have a keen eye for quality writing and can identify books that have the potential to engage readers. Taking note of the experiences and recommendations of trusted publishers can be a helpful guide in selecting well-crafted and engaging books.

As you read, take notes in the margins and use a highlighter to mark important passages. This will help you to remember what you found interesting or relevant.

It’s also helpful to write down any questions while reading. These can be used as prompts for an introductory paragraph or section of your report.

When writing a report, it’s important to be concise. You don’t want to just list the facts and figures–you want your reader to understand what they mean and how they relate to one another.

This is where your notes will come in handy. You can use them to ensure that the information you include is relevant, clear, and concise. You might start by briefly outlining what you want to include in each section of your report.

Understanding the guidelines and expectations of a book report assignment is crucial in learning how to write a book report and create insightful analysis.

For an academic task or personal project, familiarizing yourself with the specific requirements set by your instructor or the parameters of your project is essential. Pay attention to details such as the desired report length, formatting guidelines, and the depth of analysis expected.

In addition to adhering to assignment guidelines, employing a structured approach enhances the quality of your book report. Creating an outline delineating sections like introduction, summary, analysis, and conclusion helps organize your thoughts and ensures a coherent presentation of your ideas.

As you’re reading, it’s easy to get lost in the details of a book and forget its overall structure. Before writing it out, you must think about how your paper will be organized.

Your outline should include:

  • A summary of what happened in each chapter (or section). This is especially helpful if there are many characters or locations in your story; having this information written down will help keep them straight as you write about them later.
  • A list of important facts from each section/chapter that support your thesis statement (the main idea behind your essay). For example, if my thesis is “This book was very confusing,” then I would want examples from throughout the book where things were confusing to use as evidence when defending this point later in my essay.

In this step, you will write a draft of your book report. You may want to use some sticky notes or index cards to help organize your thoughts. But try not to get too caught up in formatting at this point. The most important thing is that you’ve got all the information on paper, making it easy for others to read and understand.

If possible, get feedback from someone else who has also read the book. Perhaps another student who took this class with you or even one of their parents! Ask them if they agree with how much detail went into each section of your report. Also, ask them if there were any areas where more explanation would benefit readers.

Once you have finished reading the book, it’s time to dive into a deeper analysis and evaluation. Start by identifying the book’s strengths and weaknesses. Consider aspects such as character development, writing style, themes, and the overall message conveyed by the author.

This evaluation will help you understand the book better and allow you to form your own opinions and interpretations.

For instance, if you read one of the best psychological horror books , analyze how effectively the author builds suspense and delivers psychological chills. Explore how the characters are developed and whether their psychological struggles are portrayed convincingly. Evaluate the writing style and how it adds to the atmosphere of fear and unease.

Be sure to offer personal insights and opinions. Discuss what resonated with you, what surprised you, or what you found particularly effective. Share any connections you drew between the book and your own experiences or beliefs.

Concluding a book report requires a thoughtful reflection on the main points discussed throughout the report. There is a simple way to learn how to wrap a book ; Consider it a way to encapsulate your thoughts and impressions after engaging with the book.

Start by summarizing the main points you raised throughout the report. Highlight key elements such as the plot, characters, themes, and writing style that stood out to you. This summary allows the reader to recollect the important aspects of the book you discussed.

Next, reflect on the book’s impact and relevance. Did the book leave a lasting impression on you? Did it challenge your perspectives or offer new insights? Consider how the book fits into the larger literary landscape.

Lastly, share your recommendation. Would you recommend this book to others? Explain your reasoning behind your recommendation. Discuss who might enjoy the book and why it could benefit different readers.

By concluding thoughtfully, you provide a satisfying end to your book report while leaving the reader with a clear understanding of your thoughts and recommendations. Remember to combine your main points and insights to create a cohesive and impactful ending.

Sharing your insights on a book report can be as rewarding as the reading process itself. After completing the analysis and crafting a comprehensive report, the final step is crucial—submitting or sharing your work. This step aligns with the purpose of your assignment, whether it’s for academic evaluation or sharing valuable perspectives.

When submitting your book report, ensure adherence to any specific guidelines your instructor or institution provides. Format the document according to the required structure, including title pages, citations (if applicable), and additional components.

On the other hand, if you’re sharing your thoughts and recommendations informally, consider the audience. Whether it’s peers, friends, or fellow book enthusiasts, engagingly conveys your key takeaways. Highlight the aspects that resonated with you, discuss the character’s themes, and provide insightful critiques.

Remember, the essence of sharing your book report lies in enthusiasm and confidence. Embrace the opportunity to showcase your analytical skills and understanding of the book, inspiring others to explore the same literary journey. Ultimately, enjoy the process and be proud of the effort you’ve dedicated to the report!

Writing a book report is a great way to get your name and show off your writing skills. It’s also a great way to improve your reading comprehension skills, as you must read the book closely and analyze it to write a good report.

If you’re ready to get started with your book report, use these 9 steps as a guide!

By following these nine steps and considering the additional tips, you’ll be able to craft a comprehensive and insightful book report that effectively communicates your understanding and analysis of the book.

limited Time offer

50% off on all services.


Are You Prepared to Share Your Story with the World?

Proceed To The Next Phase Of Your Publishing Adventure And Transform Your Manuscript Into A Published Book.

Recommended Blogs

Alpha Reader: What They Do (and How to Find Them)

Alpha Reader: What They Do (and How to Find Them)

50 Creative Writing Prompts for Middle School Students

50 Creative Writing Prompts for Middle School Students

How To Self-Publish A Hardcover Book: 10 Steps To Success

How To Self-Publish A Hardcover Book: 10 Steps To Success

Leaving so soon.


Discuss With Our Content Strategist Toll Free +1 628 227 3315

how can you start off a book report

  • Try for free

How to Write a Book Report (+ Book Report Example) 

Download for free, specific tips for writing effective book reports..

Write better book reports using the tips, examples, and outlines presented here. This resource covers three types of effective book reports: plot summaries, character analyses, and theme analyses. It also features a specific book report example for students.

How to write a book report (+ book report example) 

Whether you're a student looking to show your comprehension of a novel, or simply a book lover wanting to share your thoughts, writing a book report can be a rewarding experience. This guide, filled with tips, tricks, and a book report example, will help you craft a report that effectively communicates your understanding and analysis of your chosen book.

Looking for a printable resource on book reports? See our Printable Book Report Outlines and Examples

What is a book report? 

Book reports can take on many different forms. Writing a book review helps you practice giving your opinion about different aspects of a book, such as an author's use of description or dialogue.

You can write book reports of any type, from fiction to non-fiction research papers, or essay writing; however, there are a few basic elements you need to include to convey why the book you read was interesting when writing a good book report.

Close up shot of student writing a book report in class. Book report example.

Types of book reports 

Three types of effective book reports are plot summaries, character analyses, and theme analyses. Each type focuses on different aspects of the book and requires a unique approach. These three types of book reports will help you demonstrate your understanding of the book in different ways.

Plot summary

When you are writing a plot summary for your book report you don't want to simply summarize the story. You need to explain what your opinion is of the story and why you feel the plot is so compelling, unrealistic, or sappy. It is the way you analyze the plot that will make this a good report. Make sure that you use plenty of examples from the book to support your opinions.

Try starting the report with a sentence similar to the following:

The plot of I Married a Sea Captain , by Monica Hubbard, is interesting because it gives the reader a realistic sense of what it was like to be the wife of a whaling captain and live on Nantucket during the 19th century.

Character analysis

If you choose to write a character analysis, you can explore the physical and personality traits of different characters and the way their actions affect the plot of the book.

  • Explore the way a character dresses and what impression that leaves with the reader.
  • What positive characteristics does the character possess?
  • Does the character have a "fatal flaw" that gets him/her into trouble frequently?
  • Try taking examples of dialogue and analyzing the way a character speaks. Discuss the words he/she chooses and the way his/her words affect other characters.
  • Finally, tie all of your observations together by explaining the way the characters make the plot move forward.

In the novel Charlotte's Web , by E. B. White, Templeton the rat may seem like an unnecessary character but his constant quest for food moves the plot forward in many ways.

Theme analyses

Exploring the themes (or big ideas that run throughout the story) in a book can be a great way to write a book report because picking a theme that you care about can make the report easier to write. Try bringing some of your thoughts and feelings as a reader into the report as a way to show the power of a theme. Before you discuss your own thoughts, however, be sure to establish what the theme is and how it appears in the story.

  • Explain  exactly  what theme you will be exploring in your book report.
  • Use as many examples and quotations from the book as possible to prove that the theme is important to the story.
  • Make sure that you talk about each example or quotation you've included. Make a direct connection between the theme and the example from the book.
  • After you have established the theme and thoroughly examined the way it affects the book, include a few sentences about the impact the theme had upon you and why it made the book more or less enjoyable to read.

In the novel Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry , by Mildred Taylor, the theme of racial prejudice is a major catalyst in the story.

How to write a book report

Close up shot of male student writing a book report in journal. Book report example.

1. Thoroughly read the book

Immerse yourself in the book, taking the time to read it in its entirety. As you read, jot down notes on important aspects such as key points, themes, and character developments.

2. Identify the main elements of the book

Scrutinize the book's primary components, including its main themes, characters, setting, and plot. These elements will form the basis of your report.

3. Formulate a thesis statement

Compose a thesis statement that encapsulates your personal perspective about the book. This should be a concise statement that will guide your analysis and give your report a clear focus.

4. Create a detailed outline

Plan the structure of your book report. This outline should include an introduction, body paragraphs each focusing on a different aspect of the book, and a conclusion.

5. Craft the introduction

The introduction should provide basic information such as the book's title and author, and present your thesis statement. It should engage the reader and make them interested in your analysis.

6. Write the body of the report

In the body of your report, discuss in detail the book's main elements that you identified in step 3. Use specific examples from the text to support your analysis and to prove your thesis statement.

7. Write a strong conclusion

Your conclusion should summarize your analysis, reaffirm your thesis, and provide a closing thought or reflection on the overall book.

8. Review and edit your report

After writing, take the time to revise your report for clarity and coherence. Check for and correct any grammar or spelling errors. Ensure that your report clearly communicates your understanding and analysis of the book.

9. Include citations

If you have used direct quotes or specific ideas from the book, make sure to include proper citations . This is crucial in academic writing and helps avoid plagiarism.

10. Proofread

Finally, proofread your work. Look for any missed errors and make sure that the report is the best it can be before submitting it.

High school teacher hands back graded book reports. Book report example.

Book report example 

Below is a book report example on the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

In  To Kill a Mockingbird , Harper Lee presents a thoughtful exploration of racial prejudice, morality, and the loss of innocence. Set in the small, fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Great Depression, the book centers around the Finch family - young Scout, her older brother Jem, and their widowed father, Atticus. Scout's character provides a fresh perspective as she narrates her experiences and observations of the unjust racial prejudice in her town. Her honesty and curiosity, coupled with her father's teachings, allow her to grow from innocence to a more profound understanding of her society's inequalities. The plot revolves around Atticus Finch, a respected lawyer, defending a black man, Tom Robinson, unjustly accused of raping a white woman. As the trial progresses, it becomes clear that Robinson is innocent, and the accusation was a product of racial prejudice. Despite compelling evidence in Robinson's favor, he is convicted, symbolizing the power of bias over truth. The theme of racial prejudice is a significant part of the book. Lee uses the trial and its unjust outcome to critique the racial prejudice prevalent in society. For example, despite Atticus's solid defense, the jury's racial bias leads them to find Robinson guilty. This instance highlights how deeply ingrained prejudice can subvert justice. The book also explores the theme of the loss of innocence. Scout and Jem's experiences with prejudice and injustice lead to their loss of innocence and a better understanding of the world's complexities. For example, Scout's realization of her town's unfair treatment of Robinson demonstrates her loss of innocence and her understanding of societal biases. Overall,  To Kill a Mockingbird  is a compelling exploration of the harsh realities of prejudice and the loss of innocence. Harper Lee's intricate characters and vivid storytelling have made this book a classic.

The above is an excellent book report example for several reasons. First, it provides a clear, concise summary of the plot without giving away the entire story. Second, it analyzes the main characters, their roles, and their impacts on the story. Third, it discusses the major themes of the book - racial prejudice and loss of innocence - and supports these themes with evidence from the text. Finally, it presents a personal perspective on the book's impact and overall message, demonstrating a deep understanding of the book's significance.

Book report checklist

Always  include the following elements in any book report:

  • The type of book report you are writing
  • The book's title
  • The author of the book
  • The time when the story takes place
  • The location where the story takes place
  • The names and a  brief  description of each of the characters you will be discussing
  • Many quotations and examples from the book to support your opinions
  • A thesis statement
  • The point of view of the narrator
  • Summary of the book
  • The main points or themes discussed in the work of fiction or non-fiction
  • The first paragraph (introductory paragraph), body paragraphs, and final paragraph
  • The writing styles of the author
  • A critical analysis of the fiction or non-fiction book

Don't forget! 

No matter what type of book report you decide to write, ensure it includes basic information about the main characters, and make sure that your writing is clear and expressive so that it’s easy for audiences in middle school, high school, college-level, or any grade level to understand. Also, include examples from the book to support your opinions. Afterward, conduct thorough proofreading to complete the writing process. Book reports may seem disconnected from your other schoolwork, but they help you learn to summarize, compare and contrast, make predictions and connections, and consider different perspectives & skills you'll need throughout your life.

Looking for more writing resources? You can find them in our creative writing center .

Featured Middle School Resources

Test Prep Strategies and Practice for Students

Related Resources

sandbox logo

  • Link to facebook
  • Link to linkedin
  • Link to twitter
  • Link to youtube
  • Writing Tips

How to Write a Book Report

How to Write a Book Report

  • 5-minute read
  • 5th September 2021

A book report is an essay that summarizes the main ideas presented by the author. But how do you write a good book report? Our top tips include:

  • Check the assignment instructions so you know what you need to do.
  • Read the book , making notes as you go.
  • Plan your book report and create an essay outline .
  • Write up your report , using examples and quotes to support your points.
  • Revise and proofread your work to eliminate errors.

In the rest of this post, we look at how to write a book report in more detail.

1. Check the Assignment Instructions

Book reports come in many different types, so the first thing you should do if you’re asked to write one is check the assignment instructions carefully. Key aspects of the essay instructions to pay attention to include:

  • The required length of the book report (and any maximum word count ).
  • Whether you will be assigned a book to write about or whether you will be asked to pick one yourself (either from a list supplied by the tutor or based on a set of requirements, such as a book about a set topic).
  • What aspects of the book to write about (e.g., will it just be a summary of the book’s content, or will you also need to offer some critical analysis?).
  • Any requirements for structuring and formatting your report (e.g., whether to break the essay up into sections with headings and subheadings).

If anything about the instructions is unclear, check it with your tutor.

2. Read the Book and Make Notes

Next, you’ll need to read the book you’re writing about in full, not just skim through or read a synopsis! This means you’ll need to leave enough time before the deadline to read the text thoroughly (and write up your report).

When you are reading, moreover, make sure to take notes on:

  • Basic bibliographic details, including the title, author name(s), year of publication, publisher, and number of pages.
  • How the book is structured (e.g., whether it uses chapters).
  • The overall plot or argument, plus key ideas and/or plot points from each part.
  • For works of fiction, important characters and themes.
  • Significant quotations or examples you might want to use in your report.

Where possible, make sure to note down page numbers as well. This will make it easier to find the relevant parts again when you’re reviewing your notes.

3. Outline Your Book Report

How you structure your report will ultimately depend on the length (e.g., a short, 500-word report is unlikely to use separate sections and headings, while a longer one will need these to help break up the text and guide the reader) and the assignment instructions, so make sure to review these carefully.

Find this useful?

Subscribe to our newsletter and get writing tips from our editors straight to your inbox.

However, common elements of a book report include:

  • An introductory paragraph or section with basic book details (e.g., the title, author(s), genre, publisher, publication date, and intended audience).
  • Information about the author’s background and, where relevant, credentials.
  • An overview of the book’s plot (fiction and narrative non-fiction), or its main idea (other non-fiction), sometimes with a section-by-section breakdown.
  • Information on characters, setting, and themes (fiction and narrative non-fiction), or key ideas and concepts set out by the author (other non-fiction).
  • Where required, critical analysis or evaluation of the book.

When planning your book report, then, use your notes and the assignment instructions to outline your essay, breaking it down into clearly defined sections and noting what you will include in each one.

4. Write Up Your Book Report

When it comes to writing up your report, helpful tips include:

  • Imagine the reader will be unfamiliar with the book and try to ensure your report covers all the information they’d need to know what it is about.
  • Use clear, concise language to make your report easy to follow. Look out for wordiness and repetition, and don’t be tempted to pad out your report with irrelevant details just to increase the word count!
  • Use examples and quotations to support your points (but don’t rely too heavily on quotations; keep in mind that the report should be in your own words).
  • Follow the formatting instructions set out in your style guide or the assignment instructions (e.g., for fonts, margins, and presenting quotations).

If you use quotations in your report, moreover, make sure to include page numbers! This will help the reader find the passages you’ve quoted.

5. Revise and Proofread Your Work

When you have the first draft of your book report, if you have time, take a short break (e.g., overnight) before re-reading it. This will help you view it objectively. Then, when you do re-read it, look out for ways you could improve it, such as:

  • Typos and other errors that need correcting.
  • Issues with clarity or places where the writing could be more concise (reading your work aloud can make it easier to spot clunky sentences).
  • Passages that would benefit from being supported with a quote or example.

It’s also a good idea to re-read the assignment instructions one last time before submitting your work, which will help you spot any issues you missed.

Finally, if you’d like some extra help checking your writing, you can have it proofread by a professional . Submit a free sample document today to find out more.

Share this article:

Post A New Comment

Got content that needs a quick turnaround? Let us polish your work. Explore our editorial business services.

9-minute read

How to Use Infographics to Boost Your Presentation

Is your content getting noticed? Capturing and maintaining an audience’s attention is a challenge when...

8-minute read

Why Interactive PDFs Are Better for Engagement

Are you looking to enhance engagement and captivate your audience through your professional documents? Interactive...

7-minute read

Seven Key Strategies for Voice Search Optimization

Voice search optimization is rapidly shaping the digital landscape, requiring content professionals to adapt their...

4-minute read

Five Creative Ways to Showcase Your Digital Portfolio

Are you a creative freelancer looking to make a lasting impression on potential clients or...

How to Ace Slack Messaging for Contractors and Freelancers

Effective professional communication is an important skill for contractors and freelancers navigating remote work environments....

3-minute read

How to Insert a Text Box in a Google Doc

Google Docs is a powerful collaborative tool, and mastering its features can significantly enhance your...

Logo Harvard University

Make sure your writing is the best it can be with our expert English proofreading and editing.

Grammark.org Logo

How To Write A Book Report (Step-by-Step Guide)

If you’re a student who needs to write a book report, you may be wondering where to start. 

Writing a book report may seem daunting, but with the right approach, it can be a straightforward and rewarding experience. 

As someone who has mastered the art of writing a book report, I’m here to provide you with a step-by-step guide to help you write a precise book report. 

In this article, I will cover everything from what a book report is to the steps you need to follow to write a successful report. 

So, let’s get started!

What is a Book Report?

A book report summarizes and analyzes a book’s content, providing an overview of the plot, characters, themes, and your evaluation. 

Additionally, a book report often explores the main characters, their motivations, and their roles in the story. It delves into the book’s themes, messages, and the author’s writing style, discussing how these elements contribute to the book’s overall impact. 

A book report may also contain the writer’s evaluation and opinion, reflecting their thoughts on the book’s strengths, weaknesses, and relevance. 

It is an excellent way to showcase your understanding of the book and demonstrate your critical thinking skills. Book reports are commonly assigned in schools and serve as a valuable exercise in literary analysis.

What are the various forms of a Book Report?

There are several different forms of book reports, and the type you choose will depend on the guidelines provided by your instructor. Some common forms of book reports include:

Various Forms of a Book Report

  • Plot Summary Book Report:

This type of book report focuses primarily on summarizing the book’s plot. It should provide a concise story overview, including the main events, conflicts, and resolution. You can also include your thoughts and opinions on the plot and whether it effectively conveyed the intended message.

  • Character Analysis Book Report

In this form of book report, the emphasis is on analyzing the characters in the book. You should delve into the main characters’ personalities, motivations, and development and their impact on the story. 

Additionally, you can include examples from the book to support your analysis and provide insight into the character’s actions and decisions.

  • Theme-Based Book Report

Theme-based book report explores the themes and messages conveyed in the book. It requires a deeper analysis of the underlying ideas and concepts explored by the author. 

To write this type of report, you should identify the major themes in the book and discuss how they are developed throughout the story. You can also include your thoughts and opinions on the themes and what they mean to you.

  • Comparative Book Report

A comparative book report compares and contrasts two or more books with similar themes or subject matter. It requires a careful analysis of how the books relate to each other and what sets them apart. 

In this type of report, you should focus on the similarities and differences between the books and how they address the themes or subject matter. You can also include your thoughts and opinions on which book effectively conveyed the intended message.

How to Write a Book Report: Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you have an overall idea about the different forms of a book report, let’s explore how to write a book report precisely.

1. Choose the Book

The first step is to select a book on which you want to write a report. It’s important to choose a book that is appropriate for the assignment’s requirements and aligns with your interests or the subject matter.

2. Read the Book Thoroughly

Before you start writing, read the book attentively. Take notes on important plot points, characters, themes, and any significant details that stand out to you. It’s essential to thoroughly understand the book’s content before attempting to analyze and interpret it.

3. Introduction

Begin your book report with an engaging introduction. Include the book’s title, author, genre, and a brief overview of what the book is about. This is your chance to hook the reader’s interest and set the tone for your report. 

You can also provide some background information on the author or the book’s historical context if it’s relevant.

4. Summary of the Plot

Provide a concise summary of the book’s plot, covering the main events and the central conflict. Be careful not to give away major spoilers; the purpose is to give an overview without revealing too much. 

You can also highlight any important subplots or secondary characters that contribute to the story.

5. Character Analysis

Now you can discuss the main characters in the book, their personalities, motivations, and how they contribute to the story’s development. Use specific examples and quotes from the text to support your analysis. 

You can also compare and contrast different characters or explore their relationships with one another.

6. Setting and Context

Explain the setting and context of the story. Describe the time and place in which the events occur, and discuss how these elements influence the plot and characters. 

You can also analyze the significance of the setting and how it relates to the themes of the book.

7. Themes and Messages

Explore the central themes and messages conveyed by the author. Discuss the author’s intentions and how these themes are developed throughout the book. Analyze their significance in the overall narrative and how they relate to the characters and the setting.

8. Writing Style and Techniques

Evaluate the author’s writing style and the literary techniques used in the book. Consider elements such as symbolism, foreshadowing, and imagery. 

Discuss how these techniques enhance the story’s impact and contribute to the book’s overall meaning.

9. Comparisons (Optional)

You can compare the book with other works by the same author or books of a similar genre if applicable. Analyze similarities and differences, and offer insights into the author’s recurring themes or writing style. 

This can help you provide a broader context for the book and deepen your analysis.

10. Personal Opinion

Sharing a personal opinion of the book will be ideal. You can talk about what it is that you liked or disliked about the book and point out your reasons. 

Support your opinions with text evidence, such as specific scenes or character developments. Your opinion is an essential part of the book report, demonstrating your engagement with the material and your critical thinking skills.

11. Conclusion

Summarize the key points of your book report and restate your overall impression of the book. Provide a thoughtful closing statement that leaves the reader with a lasting impression. 

You can also offer some final thoughts on the book’s significance or its relevance to contemporary issues.

12. Proofreading and Editing

After writing the report, carefully proofread and edit your work to correct any grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors. Make sure that the report flow is logical and coherent. You can always use Grammarly to check for the proof-reading purpose.

Unsure if Grammarly Premium suits your needs? Then you are at luck, Grammarly provides its users with a 7-day free trial .

13. Citation (if necessary)

If required, include a bibliography or works cited page to give credit to the sources you used while writing the report. This is important to avoid plagiarism and to demonstrate your research skills. Here I have mentioned the best plagiarism checker in the market.

14. Finalize and Submit

Once thoroughly reviewing and editing your book report, finalize it and submit it according to your instructor’s guidelines. Congratulations, you have successfully written a comprehensive and insightful book report!

Related Read:

  • Books on Writing: Handpicked List For Aspiring Writers
  • Mechanics of Writing: For Fine Writing

Conclusion: How To Write A Book Report

Writing an effective book report requires closely reading the book, developing a thesis, organizing your thoughts, and drafting an analysis of the key elements of the text. 

Be sure to include relevant details from the work to support your central ideas. 

Carefully proofread your report and make any necessary revisions to create a polished final product. With proper planning and an organized approach, any student can master the art of writing engaging and insightful book reports. 

I hope this step-by-step guide provided tips to help you successfully draft your next book review assignment.

The format of a book report typically includes an introduction, a summary of the plot, a character analysis, themes and messages, an evaluation/opinion, and a conclusion.

The length of a book report can vary depending on the assignment’s requirements, but typically it ranges from 500 to 2000 words.

Including quotes from the book can enhance your report, especially when providing evidence to support your analysis and opinions.

While it’s possible to write a book report without reading the entire book, it is strongly recommended to read the complete book to provide a comprehensive and accurate analysis.

Yes, using first-person pronouns is acceptable in a book report as it allows you to express your personal opinions and thoughts about the book.

About The Author

' src=

Olivia Fullmer

Related posts.

How To Add Grammarly Chrome Extension? (Detailed Guide) 

How To Add Grammarly Chrome Extension? (Detailed Guide) 

11 Best Plagiarism Checker In 2024

11 Best Plagiarism Checker In 2024

Leave a comment cancel reply.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Book Report Writing

Barbara P

Book Report Writing Guide - Outline, Format, & Topics

15 min read

Book Report Writing

People also read

Guide to Crafting an Outstanding Book Report Outline

Creative and Excellent Book Report Ideas for Students

Writing a book report can be a challenging task for students at all levels of education. Many struggle to strike the right balance between providing a concise summary and offering insightful analysis.

The pressure to submit a well-structured report often leaves students feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about where to begin. Unlike a book review that is longer and more detailed, the purpose of writing a book report is to summarize what happened in the story. 

In this blog, we will learn the book report writing, providing you with step-by-step instructions and creative ideas. Whether you're a reader or just starting your literary journey, this guide will help you write book reports that shine. 

So, let's dive in!

Arrow Down

  • 1. What is a Book Report?
  • 2. How to Write a Book Report Outline?
  • 3. How to Write a Book Report?
  • 4. Book Report Formatting
  • 5. Book Report vs. Book Review - How Do they Differ from Each Other? 
  • 6. Book Report Templates for Different Grades
  • 7. How to Write a Book Report for High School?
  • 8. How to Write a Book Report for College Level?
  • 9. Book Report Examples
  • 10. Book Report Ideas

What is a Book Report?

A book report is a written summary and analysis of a book's content, designed to provide readers with insights into the book's key elements. It's a valuable exercise for students, offering a chance to look deeper into a book's characters, and overall impact. Why are book reports important? They serve as a way to not only showcase your reading comprehension but also your critical thinking skills. They help you reflect on the book's strengths and weaknesses, and they can be a great tool to start a discussion.

How to Write a Book Report Outline?

Before you start writing a book report, it's crucial to create a well-organized outline. A book report outline serves as the roadmap for your report, ensuring that you cover all essential aspects. Here's how to create an effective book report outline:

How to Write a Book Report?

Writing an effective book report is not just about summarizing a story; it's a chance to showcase your analytical skills.

Let’s go through the process of creating a compelling book report that will impress your instructor.

How to Start a Book Report

To start a book report follow the steps below:

  • Pick the Perfect Book  Selecting the right book for your report is the first crucial step. If you have the freedom to choose, opt for a book that aligns with your interests. Engaging with a book you're passionate about makes the entire process more enjoyable.
  • Dive into the Pages Reading the book thoroughly is non-negotiable. While summaries and online resources can be helpful, they can't replace the depth of understanding gained from reading the actual text. Take notes as you read to capture key moments and insights.
  • Document Key Insights Keeping a physical notebook for jotting down important points and insights is a tried-and-true method. This tangible record allows for quick reference when you're ready to write your report.
  • Collect Powerful Quotes Quotes from the book can be the secret sauce that adds weight to your report. Choose quotes that align with your report's themes and ideas. These quotes will serve as evidence to support your analysis and perspective.
  • Craft Your Report Outline An book report outline serves as your roadmap for creating a structured and coherent report. Ensure it includes all the vital elements, from basic book information to your in-depth analysis. An organized outline keeps your writing on track.

Writing Your Book Report

Now that you've completed the preliminary steps, it's time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). Follow these guidelines for an exceptional book report:

  • Introduction: Open with a captivating introduction that introduces the book, its author, and your main thesis. This initial "hook" draws readers in and sparks their interest.
  • Plot Summary: Concisely summarize the book's plot, including key events, main characters, and the overall narrative. Offer enough information for understanding without revealing major spoilers.
  • Analysis: The core of your report, where you dissect the book's themes, characters, writing style, and any symbolism. Back your insights with book quotes and examples, revealing the author's intentions and how they achieved them.
  • Conclusion: Summarize your main points, restate your thesis, and share your overall evaluation of the book. End with a thought-provoking statement or recommendation to leave readers engaged and curious.

Book Report Formatting

When it comes to formatting a book report, simplicity and clarity are key. Here's a straightforward guide on the essential formatting elements:

Book Report vs. Book Review - How Do they Differ from Each Other? 

The table below highlights how is a book report different from a book review :

What are the SImilarities between Book Report and Book Review?

Here are the things that are added in both a book report and a book review.

  • Bibliographic details
  • Background of the author
  • The recommended audience for the book
  • The main subject of the book or work
  • Summary of the work and the only difference is that in the review, a critical analysis is also added

Due to the similarities, many students think that both of these are the same. It is wrong and could cost you your grade.

How to Write a Nonfiction Book Report? 

Writing a nonfiction book report may seem daunting, but with a few simple steps, you can craft an informative report. Here's a streamlined guide:

  • Read Actively: Carefully read the chosen nonfiction book, highlighting key information. For instance, if you're reporting on a biography, mark significant life events and their impact.
  • Introduction: Begin with the author's name, the book's publication year, and why the author wrote the book. Create an engaging opening sentence, such as "In 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,' Rebecca Skloot delves into the fascinating world of medical ethics."
  • Focused Body: Structure the body into three paragraphs, each addressing crucial aspects. For instance, in a report on a science book, one paragraph could cover the book's key scientific discoveries.
  • Concluding Thoughts: Share your personal opinion, if applicable. Would you recommend the book? Mention reasons, like "I highly recommend 'Sapiens' by Yuval Noah Harari for its thought-provoking insights into human history."

Writing a nonfiction book report requires adhering to facts but can still be enjoyable with a strategic approach.

How to Write a Book Report without Reading the Book?

Short on time to read the entire book? Here are quick steps to create a book report:

  • Consult Summary Websites: Visit websites providing book summaries and analyses. For instance, SparkNotes or CliffsNotes offer concise overviews.
  • Focus on Key Details: Select 2-3 crucial aspects of the book, like major themes or character development. Discuss these in-depth.
  • Consider a Writing Service: Utilize professional writing services when time is tight. They can craft a well-structured report based on provided information.
  • Offer a Unique Perspective: Differentiate your report by approaching it from a unique angle. For example, explore a theme or character relationship that hasn't been extensively covered by peers.

While challenging, writing a book report without reading the book is possible with these strategies.

Order Essay

Tough Essay Due? Hire Tough Writers!

Book Report Templates for Different Grades

Students studying at different levels have different skills and ability levels. Here is how they can write book reports for their respective academic levels.

How to Write a Book Report for an Elementary School?

The following are some book report templates that you can use for your primary or elementary school.

how to write a 3rd-grade book report - MyPerfectWords.com

How to Write a Book Report for Middle School

Here are the book report worksheets that you can use to write your middle school book report.

how to write a 6th-grade book report - MyPerfectWords.com

How to Write a Book Report for High School?

Writing a high school book report includes the following steps:

  • Read the book thoroughly and with purpose.
  • Make an outline before writing the report as a pre-writing step.
  • Follow the guidelines and the given format to create the title page for your report.
  • Add basic details in the introduction of your book report.
  • Analyze the major and minor characters of the story and the role they play in the progress of the story.
  • Analyze the major and significant plot, events, and themes. Describe the story and arguments and focus on important details.
  • Conclude by adding a summary of the main elements, characters, symbols, and themes.

How to Write a Book Report for College Level?

Follow this college book report template to format and write your report effectively:

  • Understand the Assignment: Familiarize yourself with the assignment and book details to ensure proper adherence.
  • Read Thoroughly: Read the book attentively, noting essential details about the plot, characters, and themes.
  • Introduction: Craft an informative introduction with bibliographic details. 
  • Summary: Summarize key aspects like setting, events, atmosphere, narrative style, and the overall plot. 
  • Plot: Cover the entire story, highlighting essential details, plot twists, and conflicts. 
  • Conclusion: Summarize the story and assess its strengths and weaknesses. Unlike a review, a book report provides a straightforward summary.

Book Report Examples

Book Report of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Book Report of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Paper Due? Why Suffer? That's our Job!

Book Report Ideas

Basic ideas include presenting your narrative and analysis in simple written form, while more creative ideas include a fun element. Some notable books to choose from for your book report writing assignment are mentioned below:

  • "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
  • "1984" by George Orwell
  • "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen
  • "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger
  • "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" by J.K. Rowling
  • "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins
  • "The Diary of Anne Frank" by Anne Frank
  • "The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien

Need more ideas? Check out our book report ideas blog to get inspiration!

To Sum it Up! Crafting a good book report involves striking the right balance between introducing the book, summarizing its key themes, and avoiding spoilers. It's a delicate art, but with the right guidance you can grasp this skill effortlessly. 

Need expert assistance with writing your book report? MyPerfectWords.com is here to help you out!

If you're asking yourself, "Can someone write my essays online ?"Our professional writers have the answer. We can write a custom book report according to your personalized requirements and instructions. Get a high-quality book report to help you earn the best grades on your assignment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the parts of a book report.

FAQ Icon

A book report often contains different sections that describe the setting, main characters, and key themes of the story. A common type is an expository one which details what happened in detail or discusses how people feel about it.

Is a report a summary?

No, a summary is more detailed than a book report. A book report is usually based on a short summary of the book, while a standalone summary is more detailed and could have headings, subheadings, and supporting quotes.

How many paragraphs should be included in a book report?

The book report is a typical assignment in middle and high school, usually with one introduction, three body, and one conclusion paragraph.

The number of paragraphs could vary depending on the academic level, with an expert or professional book report having more than three body paragraphs.

How long is a book report?

It should not exceed two double-spaced pages, be between 600 and 800 words in length. Your book report is a written reflection on the content of a novel or work of nonfiction.

How do you end a book report?

Sum up your thesis statement and remind the readers of the important points, one final time. Do not add any new ideas or themes here and try to leave a lasting impression on the reader.

AI Essay Bot

Write Essay Within 60 Seconds!

Barbara P

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

Get Help

Paper Due? Why Suffer? That’s our Job!

Keep reading

Book Report Outline

BibGuru Blog

Be more productive in school

  • Citation Styles

How to write a book report

How to write a book report

A book report is one of the first types of essays you probably learned to write in elementary school. But no matter how many book reports you turn in over the course of your student life, they can still inspire some anxiety and some confusion about the best way to write a book report, especially as you reach the high school and college level.

The good news is that the basics you learned in the early grades will serve you in good stead, since the book report format remains mostly the same. The very same structure and tools you used to dissect Charlotte’s Web and Superfudge will work just as well for Animal Farm and The Handmaid’s Tale . What changes is the depth and breadth of your analysis as a high school and college student.

So, If you are wondering how to start a book report for a college class assignment, here are some of the key pieces of information you need to know.

What is a book report?

Let’s start off with some definitions. In the most general terms, a book report is a summary of a written text, often a fiction novel, but can also include other genres such as memoir and creative non-fiction. It includes an analysis of the different elements and authorial choices that comprise the work, such as tone, theme, perspective, diction, dialogue, etc.

While the analysis should be reasoned and objective, it should also include your opinion and assessment of the impact and overall success of the author’s choices on the final work.

Book reports usually fall into one of the following types:

Plot summary

This type of book report isn’t just a re-telling of the story, it’s a comment on your overall impression of the plot — whether you thought it was engaging or maudlin or vapid, for example — backed up by direct quotes from the text to support your opinion.

Example of a plot summary thesis statement: The plot of Herman Melville’s short story, “Bartleby the Scrivener,” offers a poignant portrait of how depression robs a person of all motivation and momentum in life.

Character analysis

A character analysis zeroes in on a particular character (their characterization and actions) and their impact on the unfolding of the plot and its eventual outcome.

Example of a character analysis thesis statement: In J.D. Salinger’s novel, The Catcher in the Rye , the character of Phoebe, Holden’s bright and precocious younger sister, is a catalyst for rekindling his hope in humanity and reconsidering the choices he’s made in his life.

Theme analysis

A theme analysis looks at the overarching concepts, or themes, that run through a book and that give the text meaning and direction. Themes tend to be broad in nature, such as love, the importance of family, the impact of childhood, etc.

Example of a theme analysis thesis statement: Banana Yoshimoto’s novella, Kitchen , explores the theme of death and how everyone sooner or later has to come to terms with the mortality of the people they love as well as their own.

How to start a book report

The very first step in writing a stellar book report that earns a top grade is actually reading the book. This may seem obvious, but many students make the assignment much harder on themselves by not putting in the time up front to do a thorough and complete reading of the book they’re going to be writing their report on. So resist the urge to skim the text or to rely on the Cliff’s notes version. A nuanced analysis requires a deep grasp of the text, and there is no substitute for focused, firsthand reading.

It’s a lot easier to stick with a book that you enjoy reading! If you have the chance to choose the book you’ll be writing a report on, take some time to select a book that appeals to you, considering the genre, time period, writing style, and plot.

It can be helpful to start thinking about your book report while you are still making your way through your initial reading of the text. Mark down passages that provide key turning points in the action, descriptive passages that establish time and place, and any other passages that stand out to you in terms of their word choice and use of language. This makes it much easier to go back later and start collecting the evidence you’ll need to support your argument and analysis.

Once you finish reading the book from cover to cover, you’ll likely find that your mind is swirling with thoughts, impressions, and burgeoning analyses. At this stage, trying to distill all of these half-formed thoughts into one cohesive report may seem like a daunting task. One way to make this task more approachable is to start by collecting and listing the objective facts about the book. The following list covers the basic elements that should be included in every book report you write, no matter what topic or specific type of book report you’re writing:

  • The book’s title and author
  • The historical context of the book (when it was written)
  • The time(s) during which the story is set
  • The location(s) where the story takes place
  • A summary of the main characters and action of the story
  • Quotes from the book that will function as evidence to support your analysis

With all of the basics in hand, you can start to write your book report in earnest. Just like most other essay types, a well-written book report follows a basic structure that makes it easy for your reader to follow your thoughts and make sense of your argument.

A typical book report will open with an introduction that briefly summarizes the book and culminates with a thesis statement that advances an opinion or viewpoint about it. This is followed by body paragraphs that provide detailed points to flesh out and support that opinion in greater detail, including direct quotes from the text as supporting evidence. The report finishes with a conclusion that summarizes the main points and leaves the reader with an understanding of the book, its aims, and whether or not you feel the book (and its author) was successful in doing what it set out to do. Ideally, the conclusion will also make a statement about how the book fits into the larger literary world.

A book report template you can use for any book report

If you find yourself stuck on how to start a book report, here’s a handy book report template you can use to get things off the ground. Simply use this structure and start filling it in with the specifics of the book you are writing your report on. Feel free to expand upon this book report template, adding more sections as appropriate.


Write three to five sentences introducing the book and author as well as important contextual information about the book, such as the publication year and the overall critical reception at the time. Finish the paragraph with your thesis statement.

Body paragraphs

Include at least three body paragraphs that offer detailed information and analysis to support your thesis statement. Each paragraph should contain one idea, backed up with direct quotes from the text alongside your critical analysis.

Write three to five sentences that restate your thesis and summarize the evidence you’ve presented in support of it. Relate your findings to a larger context about the book’s place within both the literary world and the world at large.

Frequently Asked Questions about book reports

A book report follows the format of most papers you write - it will have an introduction, a body and a conclusion. Depending on the type of book report, you will fill these parts with the required information.

These are the basic parts that should be included in every book report you write, no matter what topic or specific type of book report you’re writing:

  • The historical context of the book and time(s) during which the story is set

The book report is, among other things, also a summary of the plot, main characters, and ideas and arguments of the author. Your book report should help readers decide whether they want to read the book or not.

How many pages a book report should have depends on your assignment. It can be a half page, but it can also have many pages. Make sure to carefully read through your assignment and ask your professor if you are unsure .

A book report is a summary of a written text. A good book report includes an analysis of the different elements and authorial choices that comprise the work, such as tone, theme, perspective, diction, dialogue, etc. A good book report helps the reader decide whether they want to read the book or not.

How to write a narrative essay

Make your life easier with our productivity and writing resources.

For students and teachers.

TCK Publishing

How to Write a Book Report in 4 Easy Steps

by Yen Cabag | 2 comments

how to write a book report blog post image

Book reports are a common requirement for students, all the way from elementary school to university. Knowing how to write them will help you finish your assignment a lot faster, and also give you a better chance of wowing your instructors.

Book reports don’t have to be intimidating. Look at them as a way of expressing your thoughts and opinions about the books you read. Also, research shows that writing about what you read is an effective way of cementing the information in your mind, as opposed to simply reading it. 

What Is a Book Report? 

A book report is a written output that describes the contents of a book. Teachers often require a book report as a way of encouraging students to actually read the assigned materials. Reports also help the students to formulate their own opinions and reactions to what they read.

How Many Paragraphs is a Book Report?

The length of a book report does not guarantee the quality of the writing. Typically, though, you will have a clear introductory paragraph and a conclusion; the body paragraphs can range in number depending on how many themes you wish to explore. It will also depend greatly on the type of book report you choose to write.

3 Types of Book Reports

To write a great book report, you must first understand the different types of book reports. Sometimes your instructor may specify which type they want you to write, but if they don’t, you can choose the one that you feel most comfortable writing: 

1. Plot Summary

The plot summary involves writing a summary of the book, but it doesn’t stop there: after you summarize the plot , you will also add your own thoughts and opinions. Some questions to ask yourself include: 

  • What did you think of the plot? Was it compelling? Unrealistic? Thought-provoking? 
  • Which factors helped you form that opinion? You may cite specific examples or scenes from the book. 
  • How did the story end? What did you think of story’s resolution?
  • How would you have written things differently? 

An example of an opening line for a plot summary is: 

The plot of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor was compelling because it gave a very clear picture of how racial injustice looked in practical terms during the Great Depression in Mississippi. 

2. Theme Analysis

Sometimes, a book you read may contain certain themes that stand out to you. When that happens, a theme analysis is a great way to structure your book report.

Remember that the theme analysis will need to include an exploration of the theme presented in the book before you start sharing your own opinions. You can do this by showing examples of how the author expressed that theme. 

Some questions to think about include: 

  • What theme does the story focus on? How does the author emphasize this? 
  • Which specific scenes cement that theme in the story? 
  • Is there any dialogue that helps emphasize this theme? 
  • How does the author portray the theme? 
  • What did you think about the theme and the way the author portrayed it? Do you agree with their opinions? Why or why not? 

An example of an opening line for a book report with the theme analysis structure would be: 

The novel Watership Down by Richard Adams powerfully portrayed the theme of leadership: Hazel’s humble but effective leadership was greatly contrasted with the tyrannical and controlling style of Captain Woundwort of the Efrafa warren. 

3. Character Analysis 

A character analysis is another interesting way of approaching a book report. You focus on a character (or characters) in the story, and how their decisions and behaviors affect the events in the plot. 

Some questions to help you analyze characters include: 

  • How does the character act? What impressions did you have of them? 
  • What positive traits do they have? Negative traits?
  • What are their main motivations and desires? What about fears or wrong beliefs? 
  • Does he talk in a specific way that sets him apart from other characters? If so, consider giving an example, and detailing how that impacts the character development. 
  • How does this character affect the main storyline? 

For example, you might open a book report using character analysis with a line like this: 

In the novel Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, the main character is Scarlett O’Hara, but it was the character Melanie Wilkes who really stood out: her steadfastness and belief in the good of everyone is what finally won over even the hardhearted Scarlett. 

Note: Never copy summaries or book reports directly from the internet! Your teacher will likely check your work through a submissions platform that compares your writing to what’s already out there online. For more tips, check out our post on how to avoid plagiarism .

How to Write a Great Book Report 

Whichever type of book report you choose to write, here are some tips to help you write in a clearer and more engaging way.

writing a book report image

1. Choose a book you are interested in. 

Some book reports may be based on an assigned book, but more often, instructors might ask you to choose your own book. They may or may not assign a genre, such as biography, classic literature, or nonfiction. 

If you can choose which book to write your report on, now’s your chance to find one that you will be interested in. Some questions that can help you find a book include: 

  • What topics are you already interested in? Are you interested in a specific time in history, such as World War II or the Great Depression? Are you interested in a specific theme, such as racial discrimination, slavery, or poverty? 
  • Which genres are you already familiar with? Historical fiction? Family sagas? Nonfiction? 
  • Do you have authors that you are already familiar with and would love to read more from? For example, if you have read a children’s book by Mark Twain, such as Tom Sawyer, a high school level book report might be on his book Recollections of Joan of Arc . 
  • How much time do you have between now and when the book is due? You need to be realistic about how much time you have to read the book, and then write a thoughtful analysis.

2. Make sure you READ the book you’re writing about! 

You may be tempted to search online for a book summary and try to write a whole book report based on those findings. (This is less likely to happen if you choose a book you’re actually interested in!)

While you might be able to scrape by with a summary, we highly discourage that tactic for at least two reasons: First, actually reading the book will benefit you by expanding your worldview. Second, you can only write a thorough, quality book report if you have truly read the book yourself. 

In order to make sure you read the whole book, it’s important to plan ahead. The following tips might help:

  • Start as soon as possible once you’re given the assignment. As soon as you pick your book,, factor in at least two weeks for writing and wrapping up your report. Divide the number of pages by the remaining days: that will be the number of pages you will have to read per day. 
  • Practice narration. Charlotte Mason, a British educator-reformer in the 1800s, recommended narration as the best tool for assimilating information. Read a few pages and then write a short narration of what you read. This will help you understand the story and also give you material for writing your book report. 
  • Take notes. If you don’t want to write too much in way of a narration, writing down bullet points or annotating the book will be faster, and it will also give you information to use in your report. 
  • Start writing little bits of the report along the way. You don’t have to finish the whole book before you start writing your report! You can schedule some time once a week to write portions of your book report. You might write it as though you were writing a journal, expressing your opinions about different scenes. This is especially helpful if you are writing a character or theme analysis. 

3. Outline your book report. 

Even before you are more than halfway through the book, you can start to make your outline. This might change after you finish the book, but if you already have a general idea of your report’s structure, it might even help you pay more attention as you read. 

Try this format for your outline:

  • Introduction
  • Summary of Book
  • Book Details: Characters
  • Book Details: Plot 
  • Evaluation and Conclusion 

4. Write the contents of your book report. 

Once you’ve prepared your outline, you can start to write your report. You can use headings to organize your thoughts better. (This is where your written narrations or bullet point notes will come in handy!)

If you already wrote portions of the report as you were reading it, this is the time to organize them into a coherent piece. These tips should help you:

  • Organize your ideas. You can write a good book report by identifying and analyzing major themes. Organize your ideas around these themes and write about each idea. If any new themes emerge (which often happens when you’re doing this kind of analysis), add them with a new header instead of mixing them with an existing thought.
  • Focus on content. Don’t worry about the word count, but instead focus on getting your thoughts down on paper. The book report will be more valuable as you express the analysis that you underwent as you read the book.
  • Be clear and concise. Being clear doesn’t require lots of words; just stick to the theme in each paragraph and avoid taking rabbit trails or using unnecessary words. Keep this in mind when you edit your work later on, as well.
  • Add headings where necessary. When you find yourself writing several paragraphs under the same header, consider adding a new heading to make your ideas more clear.

Ace Your Book Report

With these steps, writing a book report can be a breeze. Remember, a book report is not just about grades, but what you learn along the journey, so don’t miss out on that experience by taking short-cuts.

And even if school is a distant memory for you, taking the time to reflect on what you’ve read can help you process information and key themes, as well as make you more prepared for your next book club meeting!

Did you find this post helpful? Let us know in the comments below!

If you enjoyed this post, then you might also like:

  • Theme in Literature: Definition and Examples
  • How to Write a Research Paper: The Complete Guide for Students
  • How to Write a Biography: 8 Steps for a Captivating Story
  • How to Annotate a Book: What to Look For and How to Take Notes

Yen Cabag

Yen Cabag is the Blog Writer of TCK Publishing. She is also a homeschooling mom, family coach, and speaker for the Charlotte Mason method, an educational philosophy that places great emphasis on classic literature and the masterpieces in art and music. She has also written several books, both fiction and nonfiction. Her passion is to see the next generation of children become lovers of reading and learning in the midst of short attention spans.


hi i need some tips on book report 3 tips

Kaelyn Barron

Hi Elana, do you have any questions about the tips in the post?

Book Deals

Learn More About

  • Fiction (223)
  • Nonfiction (71)
  • Blogging (47)
  • Book Promotion (29)
  • How to Get Reviews (9)
  • Audiobooks (17)
  • Book Design (11)
  • Ebook Publishing (13)
  • Hybrid Publishing (8)
  • Print Publishing (9)
  • Self Publishing (70)
  • Traditional Publishing (53)
  • How to Find an Editor (11)
  • Fitness (4)
  • Mindfulness and Meditation (7)
  • Miscellaneous (117)
  • New Releases (17)
  • Career Development (73)
  • Online Courses (46)
  • Productivity (45)
  • Personal Finance (21)
  • Podcast (179)
  • Poetry Awards Contest (2)
  • Publishing News (8)
  • Readers Choice Awards (5)
  • Reading Tips (145)
  • Software (18)
  • Technology (17)
  • Contests (4)
  • Grammar (63)
  • Word Choice (64)
  • Writing a Book (63)
  • Writing Fiction (195)
  • Writing Nonfiction (75)

How to Write a Great Book Report

Hero Images / Getty Images

  • M.Ed., Education Administration, University of Georgia
  • B.A., History, Armstrong State University

One assignment has lasted the test of time, uniting generations of students in a common learning exercise: book reports. While many students dread these assignments, book reports can help students learn how to interpret texts and gain a broader understanding of the world around them.  Well-written books can open your eyes to new experiences, people, places, and life situations that you may have never thought about before. In turn, a book report is a tool that allows you, the reader, to demonstrate that you have understood all the nuances of the text you just read.

What's a Book Report?

In the broadest terms, a book report describes and summarizes a work of fiction or nonfiction . It sometimes — but not always — includes a personal evaluation of the text. In general, regardless of grade level, a book report will include an introductory paragraph that shares the title of the book and its author. Students will often develop their own opinions about the underlying meaning of the texts through developing thesis statements , typically presented in the opening of a book report, and then using examples from the text and interpretations to support those statements.  

Before You Start Writing

A good book report will address a specific question or point of view and back up this topic with specific examples, in the form of symbols and themes. These steps will help you identify and incorporate those important elements. It shouldn't be too hard to do, provided you're prepared, and you can expect to spend, on average, 3-4 days working on the assignment. Check out these tips to ensure you're successful:

  • Have an objective in mind.  This is the main point you want to present or the question you plan to answer in your report.  
  • Keep supplies on hand when you read.  This is  very  important. Keep sticky-note flags, pen, and paper nearby as you read. If you're reading an eBook , make sure you know how to use the annotation function of your app/program.  
  • Read the book.  It seems obvious, but too many students try to take a shortcut and simply read summaries or watch movies, but you often miss important details that can make or break your book report.
  • Pay attention to detail.  Keep an eye out for clues that the author has provided in the form of symbolism . These will indicate some important point that supports the overall theme. For instance, a spot of blood on the floor, a quick glance, a nervous habit, an impulsive action, a repetitive action... These are worth noting.
  • Use your sticky flags to mark pages.  When you run into clues or interesting passages, mark the page by placing the sticky note at the beginning of the relevant line.  
  • Look for themes.  As you read, you should begin to see an emerging theme. On a notepad, write down some notes on how you came to determine the theme.
  • Develop a rough outline.  By the time you finish  reading the book , you will have recorded several possible themes or approaches to your objective. Review your notes and find points that you can back up with good examples (symbols). 

Your Book Report Introduction

The start of your book report provides an opportunity to make a solid introduction to the material and your own personal assessment of the work. You should try to write a strong introductory paragraph that grabs your reader's attention. Somewhere in your first paragraph , you should also state the book's title and the author's name.

High school-level papers should include publication information as well as brief statements about the book's angle, the genre, the theme , and a hint about the writer's feelings in the introduction.

First Paragraph Example: Middle School Level

" The Red Badge of Courage ", by Stephen Crane, is a book about a young man growing up during the Civil War. Henry Fleming is the main character of the book. As Henry watches and experiences the tragic events of the war, he grows up and changes his attitudes about life.

First Paragraph Example: High School Level

Can you identify one experience that changed your entire view of the world around you? Henry Fleming, the main character in "The Red Badge of Courage", begins his life-changing adventure as a naive young man, eager to experience the glory of war. He soon faces the truth about life, war, and his own self-identity on the battlefield, however. "The Red Badge of Courage", by Stephen Crane, is a coming of age novel published by D. Appleton and Company in 1895, about thirty years after the Civil War ended. In this book, the author reveals the ugliness of war and examines its relationship to the pain of growing up.

The Body of the Book Report

Before you get started on the body of the report, take a few minutes to jot down some helpful information by considering the following points.

  • Did you enjoy the book?
  • Was it well written?
  • What was the genre?
  • (fiction) Which characters play important roles that relate to the overall theme?
  • Did you notice reoccurring symbols?
  • Is this book a part of a series?
  • (nonfiction) Can you identify the writer's thesis?
  • What is the writing style?
  • Did you notice a tone?
  • Was there an obvious slant or bias?

In the body of your book report, you will use your notes to guide you through an extended summary of the book. You will weave your own thoughts and impressions into the plot summary . As you review the text, you'll want to focus on key moments in the storyline and relate them to the perceived theme of the book, and how the characters and setting all bring the details together. You'll want to be sure that you discuss the plot, any examples of conflict that you encounter, and how the story resolves itself. It can be helpful to use strong quotes from the book to enhance your writing. 

The Conclusion

As you lead to your final paragraph, consider some additional impressions and opinions:

  • Was the ending satisfactory (for fiction)?
  • Was the thesis supported by strong evidence (for nonfiction)?
  • What interesting or notable facts do you know about the author?
  • Would you recommend this book?

Conclude your report with a paragraph or two that covers these additional points. Some teachers prefer that you re-state the name and author of the book in the concluding paragraph. As always, consult your specific assignment guide or ask your teacher if you have questions about what is expected of you. 

  • 10 Steps to Writing a Successful Book Report
  • The Red Badge of Courage Book Summary
  • How to Start a Book Report
  • What Does Critical Reading Really Mean?
  • Book Report: Definition, Guidelines, and Advice
  • How to Find the Theme of a Book or Short Story
  • How to Compare Two Novels in Comparative Essay
  • How to Design a Book Cover
  • Symbols and Motifs in Literature
  • How to Outline a Textbook Chapter
  • How to Write and Format an MBA Essay
  • How to Write a Response Paper
  • How to Write a Critical Essay
  • Top Conservative Novels
  • How to Study for an Open Book Test
  • 50 General Book Club Questions for Study and Discussion

Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Writing a Book Report

OWL logo

Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

Book reports are informative reports that discuss a book from an objective stance. They are similar to book reviews but focus more on a summary of the work than an evaluation of it. Book reports commonly describe what happens in a work; their focus is primarily on giving an account of the major plot, characters, thesis, and/or main idea of the work. Most often, book reports are a K-12 assignment and range from 250 to 500 words.

Book reviews are most often a college assignment, but they also appear in many professional works: magazines, newspapers, and academic journals. If you are looking to write a book review instead of a book report, please see the OWL resource, Writing a Book Review .

Before You Read

Before you begin to read, consider what types of things you will need to write your book report. First, you will need to get some basic information from the book:

  • Publisher location, name of publisher, year published
  • Number of Pages

You can either begin your report with some sort of citation, or you can incorporate some of these items into the report itself.

Next, try to answer the following questions to get you started thinking about the book:

  • Author: Who is the author? Have you read any other works by this author?
  • Genre: What type of book is this: fiction, nonfiction, biography, etc.? What types of people would like to read this kind of book? Do you typically read these kinds of books? Do you like them?
  • Title: What does the title do for you? Does it spark your interest? Does it fit well with the text of the book?
  • Pictures/Book Jacket/Cover/Printing: What does the book jacket or book cover say? Is it accurate? Were you excited to read this book because of it? Are there pictures? What kinds are there? Are they interesting?

As You Read

While reading a work of fiction, keep track of the major characters. You can also do the same with biographies. When reading nonfiction works, however, look for the main ideas and be ready to talk about them.

  • Characters: Who are the main characters? What happens to them? Did you like them? Were there good and bad characters?
  • Main Ideas: What is the main idea of the book? What happens? What did you learn that you did not know before?
  • Quotes: What parts did you like best? Are there parts that you could quote to make your report more enjoyable?

When You Are Ready to Write

Announce the book and author. Then, summarize what you have learned from the book. Explain what happens in the book, and discuss the elements you liked, did not like, would have changed, or if you would recommend this book to others and why. Consider the following items as well:

  • Principles/characters: What elements did you like best? Which characters did you like best and why? How does the author unfold the story or the main idea of the book?
  • Organize: Make sure that most of your paper summarizes the work. Then you may analyze the characters or themes of the work.
  • Your Evaluation: Choose one or a few points to discuss about the book. What worked well for you? How does this work compare with others by the same author or other books in the same genre? What major themes, motifs, or terms does the book introduce, and how effective are they? Did the book appeal to you on an emotional or logical way?
  • Recommend: Would you recommend this book to others? Why? What would you tell them before they read it? What would you talk about after you read it?

Revising/Final Copy

Do a quick double check of your paper:

  • Double-check the spelling of the author name(s), character names, special terms, and publisher.
  • Check the punctuation and grammar slowly.
  • Make sure you provide enough summary so that your reader or instructor can tell you read the book.
  • Consider adding some interesting quotes from the reading.
  • Skip to primary navigation
  • Skip to main content
  • Skip to primary sidebar
  • Skip to footer


Non Fiction Book Report: How to Write the Perfect Paper

The thought of a non fiction book report may bring to mind early school days. In fact, a parent could easily use this article to help their kids complete one of these report assignments. However, even college students may be asked to review or report on a nonfiction book. Thankfully, the standards for what makes a perfect analysis paper doesn’t change across grade levels. The content itself becomes more complicated but the principles stay the same.

There are two main principles to writing a perfect book report: describe and evaluate. Knowing how to perform each and how to balance them can help you, your students, or your kids write the best paper they can.

Describe: The Facts of the Non Fiction Book Report

Description in a book report includes names and major points in the book. This is not the time to state your analysis of the work but simply to list the relevant information so the reader knows where your analysis will go.

The information in the description portion of a nonfiction book report includes background on the author and relevant information on the creation of the book. State how the book has been assembled or organized, especially if it takes a unique genre form. This includes the author’s intention with the book as a thesis or a statement of purpose. Let the reader know that you have a big picture of the nonfiction book being discussed.

Finally, offer a summary of the nonfiction book to get your readers on the same “page” for your evaluation. By selectively summarizing information, the reader (or grader) knows what they should take from your analysis.

Evaluate: Make Your Points

When you begin evaluating, use the information you reviewed and summarized in the description section. Evaluation involves your opinion, but a supported opinion that includes relevant scholarship. This means that other writers’ reviews and journal articles that discuss the nonfiction book you’re studying can come in handy to back up your points.

You can observe the strengths and faults of the book based on your observations and experience. However, the more you can support your statements with the words of others and of the book itself, the better your report will be.

How to Start Writing a Book Report

As you read, you have to read the right way ! This means observing the author’s purpose quickly, learning the background information that will go into your report beforehand, and taking notes. As you read, note the author’s expertise and how they incorporate their thesis. When you see quotes that support the author’s ideas (or yours), take note of where they occur. This can only make writing the report easier in the long run.

The Takeaway

A non fiction book report sounds like a hefty obligation. However, whether it’s a college paper or a child’s school project, a book report doesn’t have to be a burden. Get the two qualities of description and evaluation clearly distinct in your head so that when you read, you can already sort and note the informtation that will make your paper work.

Like it? Share it!

Get Updates Right to Your Inbox

Further insights.

Survival Books Fiction Campfire

Privacy Overview

  • PRO Courses Guides New Tech Help Pro Expert Videos About wikiHow Pro Upgrade Sign In
  • EDIT Edit this Article
  • EXPLORE Tech Help Pro About Us Random Article Quizzes Request a New Article Community Dashboard This Or That Game Popular Categories Arts and Entertainment Artwork Books Movies Computers and Electronics Computers Phone Skills Technology Hacks Health Men's Health Mental Health Women's Health Relationships Dating Love Relationship Issues Hobbies and Crafts Crafts Drawing Games Education & Communication Communication Skills Personal Development Studying Personal Care and Style Fashion Hair Care Personal Hygiene Youth Personal Care School Stuff Dating All Categories Arts and Entertainment Finance and Business Home and Garden Relationship Quizzes Cars & Other Vehicles Food and Entertaining Personal Care and Style Sports and Fitness Computers and Electronics Health Pets and Animals Travel Education & Communication Hobbies and Crafts Philosophy and Religion Work World Family Life Holidays and Traditions Relationships Youth
  • Browse Articles
  • Learn Something New
  • Quizzes Hot
  • This Or That Game
  • Train Your Brain
  • Explore More
  • Support wikiHow
  • About wikiHow
  • Log in / Sign up
  • Education and Communications
  • Official Writing
  • Report Writing

How to Start Writing a Report

Last Updated: July 7, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Diane Stubbs and by wikiHow staff writer, Janice Tieperman . Diane Stubbs is a Secondary English Teacher with over 22 years of experience teaching all high school grade levels and AP courses. She specializes in secondary education, classroom management, and educational technology. Diane earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Delaware and a Master of Education from Wesley College. There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 27,353 times.

Reports are a useful way to relay information back to an audience. However, since this type of writing is so broad, it can be difficult to know how to begin. Before you start writing, set aside some time to choose a great topic that will engage your audience. Next, support your topic with research that comes from credible sources. Once you’ve chosen a report structure that will convey your information in an efficient and effective way, you’re ready to draft your ideas into an outline. With just a little focus, you’ll be ready to submit a clear and thought-out report to your teachers, peers, and superiors!

Picking a Topic

Step 1 Go over your assignment until you understand it.

  • For example, a book report or IT report will likely be read by just a professor or teacher, while a business report might be read by several individuals.

Tip: Keep in mind that not all reports will necessarily be assigned. In the event of a car accident or random crime, you might have to report to your insurance company or fill out a police report . For these documents, try to approximate the likely audience of your report, like an officer or insurance agent.

Step 2 Brainstorm the most effective points and arguments to include.

  • For instance, many reports are written to describe the results of a project or long-term assignment. In a report of those events, you only want to go over the highlights—not each and every detail of the project.

Step 3 Outline different ideas before deciding on one that you like.

  • For example, if you’re filling out a lab report, you’d want to include an introduction, apparatus, procedure, body, and conclusion section. If you’re having difficulty filling out each of these sections in detail, then you might want to re-evaluate your report’s content.

Step 4 Choose a topic that is easy to research.

  • For example, if you have to write a book report, choose a book in a genre that interests you.

Finding Good Research Sources

Step 1 Use databases to find credible content.

  • Use Google’s “scholar” feature to find credible sources on certain topics.

Step 2 Go to your local library to look for helpful material.

  • If you’re a student, take advantage of your school’s library.

Step 3 Examine the website’s domain name for validity.

  • Overall, “.org” just indicates that the source is run by a nonprofit group. While there are many credible nonprofit groups out there, check to make sure that the website is founded in facts and credibility.

Step 4 Duplicate your findings in another source.

  • If you’re having difficulty finding a lot of sources for a certain topic, start with a crowd-sourced site like Wikipedia. While the information itself shouldn’t be used or referenced in a report, see if the site credits any reliable sources within the article.

Tip: Try to look for academic sources that are peer-reviewed. [9] X Research source

Step 5 Look through a website’s design to see how it’s laid out.

  • Additionally, search for any spelling or grammatical errors in the text. You don’t want to reference information in your report that’s riddled with spelling mistakes.

Determining the Best Structure

Step 1 Opt for an informal report if you’re looking to present your info concisely.

  • Informal is an umbrella term used for a variety of different documents. Short memos, letter reports, and informal lab reports all fall under this category.
  • For example, a short memo or letter report includes a heading, introductory statement, finding, and recommendation section.

Step 2 Choose a formal report if you’d like to include more detail.

  • The preliminaries section refers to any content that appears at the beginning of the document. While this varies per assignment, some example preliminaries could include a letter of transmittal, acknowledgments, a table of contents, a title page, and/or a list of figures and tables.

Step 3 Write a periodic report if you’re reflecting on a shorter time period.

  • For instance, if you’re comparing the current period of time to a previous period, use a compare and contrast type of format to portray the differences between these 2 times. A self-evaluation at a university is a good example of this. [14] X Research source

Step 4 Go for an inspection report if you’re examining a structure in depth.

  • If you’re giving the report to a client, try to avoid using any fancy terminology that wouldn’t make sense to the average reader.

Step 5 Draft a progress report if you’re discussing the future.

  • In some cases, progress reports are easier to complete as a collaborative effort.
  • For instance, you might have to fill out a progress report for a class to show how much you’ve completed in a cumulative project.

Outlining the Report

Step 1 Explain your main purpose of the report in the thesis.

  • If you want to save room for the content of your introduction, use the letter “A” to create a sub point where you’d write out your thesis.

Step 2 Sort through your main ideas and fit them into the outline’s structure.

  • These outlines will look very different depending on the structure. For instance, an outline for a scientific report would have separation sections/numerals for key graphs experimental design, as well as data exploration.

Step 3 Include any supporting details as you think of them.

  • If you flesh out more in your outline, then you’ll have an easier time later when you’re writing the report.

Step 4 Figure out your introduction and conclusion at the end.

  • For instance, a sample introductory sentence on an outline could like: “Throughout the summer, a continued study showed that the placebo effect was 60% effective in curing symptoms of motion sickness.”
  • It will be easier to write your introduction after you've done your research and have identified your thesis, since that is going to be your guiding idea.

Step 5 Start fleshing your...

  • Work through one point at a time. If it helps, work through your report outline chronologically.

Expert Q&A

Diane Stubbs

  • When writing academically, look to your rubric to make sure that you’re meeting all necessary guidelines of the assignment. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

how can you start off a book report

You Might Also Like

Write a Report

  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/common_writing_assignments/research_papers/choosing_a_topic.html
  • ↑ https://www.iup.edu/writingcenter/writing-resources/organization-and-structure/creating-an-outline.html
  • ↑ https://guides.lib.berkeley.edu/finding-databases-and-articles
  • ↑ https://shepard.libguides.nccu.edu/c.php?g=287999&p=1914642
  • ↑ https://www.utep.edu/extendeduniversity/utepconnect/blog/march-2017/4-ways-to-differentiate-a-good-source-from-a-bad-source.html
  • ↑ https://louisville.edu/writingcenter/for-students-1/common-writing-questions-1/i-can2019t-find-good-sources-for-my-research-paper
  • ↑ https://guides.lib.uw.edu/research/faq/reliable
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/subject_specific_writing/writing_in_engineering/handbook_on_report_formats/reports_and_memos.html
  • ↑ https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/uploads/production/document/path/12/12685/Periodic_Review_SED_outline__UoP___Partner_Stg_2_.pdf
  • ↑ https://www.e-education.psu.edu/styleforstudents/c6_p10.html
  • ↑ https://www.herzing.edu/blog/herzing/5-steps-create-perfect-outline
  • ↑ https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/writingprocess/outlining
  • ↑ https://bacwritingfellows.commons.gc.cuny.edu/using-an-outline/

About This Article

Diane Stubbs

  • Send fan mail to authors

Did this article help you?

how can you start off a book report

Featured Articles

Pick Up on Manipulative Behavior

Trending Articles

How to Make Money on Cash App: A Beginner's Guide

Watch Articles

Make Homemade Liquid Dish Soap

  • Terms of Use
  • Privacy Policy
  • Do Not Sell or Share My Info
  • Not Selling Info

Don’t miss out! Sign up for

wikiHow’s newsletter

Money blog: Tourist taxes being imposed across Europe (and in UK) - here's how much they all are

An increasing number of cities are either imposing or increasing the cost of tourist taxes on visitors. Read this and our other Weekend Money content below, and let us know your thoughts. We'll be back with live updates on Monday.

Saturday 18 May 2024 17:03, UK

Weekend Money

  • How to sell your home without an estate agent
  • Tourist taxes to watch out for in popular holiday destinations
  • Childcare vouchers, hard work and new skyscrapers: What readers have said this week
  • Three things you need to know from Money this week

Best of the week

  • The rise of Michelin starred 'fast food'
  • How much do buskers make?
  • Basically... What is PIP - and what could government changes mean?
  • How to make sure your car passes its MOT
  • Money Problem : My workplace wants to pay us by the minute - what can I do?
  • Best of the Money blog - an archive

Ask a question or make a comment

As we've been reporting in the Money blog over the last few months, an increasing number of cities are either imposing or increasing the cost of tourist taxes on visitors. 

Many say they are preventing damages from overtourism, as well as funding local infrastructure and businesses. 

Here are the latest tourist fees for the most popular spots in Europe...

Tourists visiting Venice for the day will have to pay a €5 entry fee to enter the city between the hours of 8.30am and 4pm.

Meanwhile, those staying overnight in Venice are charged a fee between €1 to €5 within the accommodation price for the first five consecutive nights.

People visiting the Spanish city now have to pay €3.25 if they're staying in official accommodation, up from €2.75.


Visitors must pay £1 per room, per night across 73 hotels. 

The scheme, which has raised more than £2m within a year, is for improvements to attract more tourists.

Tourists must pay €2 per person for every night they stay, although this is only applied for a maximum of seven nights.

The Greek government has introduced a Climate Crisis Resilience Fee to charge tourists anywhere from €0.50 to €10 per room, per night.

The amount depends on the hotel category and the time of year.

Visitors to the Croatian city must pay €2.65 per person, per night throughout April to September. 

However, the fee has been temporarily reduced to €1.86 for the rest of this year.

Different amounts are charged depending on the type of accommodation.

The most expensive charge is €14.95 for a stay in palaces, and €0.65 at one or two-star campsites, per person, per night. 

Those staying in a typical four-star hotel are charged around €8.

Those staying in the Hungarian capital are charged an additional 4% each night, which is calculated based on the price of the room.

Tourists in Berlin must pay 5% of the room price, excluding VAT and service fees.

The tourist tax here has increased from €0.82 to €1.97 per day. 

Prices researched by travel insurance site Quotezone.co.uk

By Ollie Cooper , Money team

Estate agent fees are one of the big expenses in selling a house - but rule changes and the rise of private sale websites have made it more common for people to go it alone.

But how easy is it - and what do you need to know? We spoke to industry experts to find out.

Firstly, what do estate agents do for their money?

An estate agent will typically charge in the range of 1%-3.5% of the sale price. 

That means for the average house price (£284,691 from December) you could pay anywhere from £2,846 to £9,964 in commission fees.

"When you use an estate agent, their fee includes taking professional photographs, advertising your home, conducting property viewings, and negotiating a price on your behalf," says Jack Smithson  from the home ownership site  Better.co.uk .

In addition, an estate agent will compile comprehensive details of your house, including room sizes and descriptions of fixtures and fittings. 

"They will also provide a concise write-up about the local area, highlighting amenities, schools, and transportation links," Jack adds. 

And they'll conduct checks on buyers for you (more on this later).

It sounds like a lot, but...

"Selling your home yourself can be a manageable process with a few key steps," Jack says.


You should begin by thoroughly researching house prices in your area, using websites like Rightmove and Zoopla - but seek free valuations from local estate agents to ensure you have a realistic asking price in mind.

Next, you want to take high-quality photos of your house.

Jack advises using tutorials on YouTube to learn new shooting and editing techniques that can take you to the next level.

You then want to write down what makes your home unique.

"While browsing other listings for inspiration, take it a step further by emphasising what you love about living in your home and the surrounding area," Jack suggests.

"Whether it's the refreshing scent of the coastline or the tranquil sounds of village life, incorporating these details can help potential buyers visualise living there," he advises. 

Like using YouTube for photography tips, you can use free tools such as ChatGPT and Grammarly if you need help with your writing, Jack says. 


This is probably the biggest perk of going through an established estate agent - your home is much more likely to be viewed because they will have an established audience and a market. But it's very possible to do it alone. 

"When it comes to advertising your home, explore a variety of avenues including local newspapers and social media," Jack says.

"Consider using websites like Strike, which allow individuals to list their properties for free on platforms like Rightmove," he suggests.


Once you've secured some viewings, you've got the opportunity to make it a bit more personal than estate agents ever could - a real advantage. 

"Explain the reasons behind your decision to purchase the property, highlight its unique features, and share the aspects of your neighbourhood that make it a desirable place to live," Jack says. 

The small things matter when showing people round - so try to take an objective look around before you bring anyone in.

Do the things you'd do normally - make sure it smells nice and it's clean and tidy.

"Lastly, it's worth knowing that you must legally provide potential buyers with a free Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)."

The sale itself

Perhaps the most daunting aspect is the physical exchange of contracts and money. 

An estate agent would typically oversee the process of the initial offer acceptance to the transfer of keys to the new owner.

However, if you go it alone, you'll need to become the central point of contact - bridging the gap between your solicitor or conveyancer and the buyer and their legal representative.

"Once you've accepted an offer on your property, your first task is to draft what's called a memorandum of sale," Jack says.  

This document is a written confirmation of your acceptance of the offer and details the agreed price along with any specific conditions you've both agreed to.

"It's then recommended to engage the services of a solicitor or conveyancer to ensure all legal obligations are met," Jack says (of course, you'll need to do this even if you have an estate agent).

The cost of hiring one typically ranges from a few hundred to over £1,000, depending on factors such as fixed fees, hourly rates, the complexity of the sale and additional costs like property searches or land registry fees.

"In the absence of an estate agent, you'll be responsible for keeping your buyer informed about the progress of the sale. This involves regular updates on the status of legal procedures and any relevant developments," Jack says, before adding that this can actually be a good thing.

"By taking on these responsibilities independently, you'll have greater control over the sale process. However, it will require you to be exceptionally organised, and you'll need to be very good at communicating too."  

Any risks to be aware of?

Rita Patel, legal director at law firm  Browne Jacobson , tells us the biggest risk for people selling their properties without an estate agent is the lack of a vetting and verification process of the potential buyer.

Estate agents will verify the buyer's identity and check the buyer's proof and source of funds - without this, there's no way to assess the buyer is legitimate and can afford to buy.

"Whilst this process is something lawyers can help with, this is often at an additional cost, and you'll need to start from square one if there is an issue with a potential buyer's identification and/or financial eligibility," Rita says. 

More generally, selling without an agent can extend the time it takes to sell. 

"Zoopla suggests this timeframe is normally around 17-34 weeks, but with no one on hand to consistently promote and drive the property sale at all stages, going solo drags this process out," Rita says. 

"Agents can also help mediate any potential breakdowns in communication between the buyer and seller - reducing the likelihood of having to go back to market and start again."

The advantages

Laura Owen-Brown, a PR manager from Gloucestershire, tells us she is set to sell her house without an estate agent in the near future.

"My disappointment with estate agents stems from their lack of familiarity with the properties they attempted to sell me when I was buying my current house," she says. 

"They couldn't tell me about the details that truly matter, like the optimal times for sunlight in the garden, how much council tax I'd pay, what the roof was made of, the places I could walk my dog off lead or the impact of post-football match traffic on Sundays.

"These types of details can shape the experience of living in a house for years and are just as important as the square footage, EPC rating or how many bedrooms a property has," she adds. 

She says the current "transactional" approach to selling houses feels "impersonal and outdated" to her. 

"Yes, I'll have to handle more admin, but the savings in both money and time will make it worthwhile. Liaising with buyers and solicitors directly without a third party slowing everything down will mean I can be in control and have transparency throughout the process, especially during negotiations," she says.

All in all...

As Laura says, it's very much a case of whether you can stomach the admin and are happy to take the risks on background financial checks. 

If you are aware of all the above and willing to take on the organisational burden, you could save yourself a serious chunk of cash. 

The main topics from the Money blog that got you commenting this week were...

Government-funded childcare

  • Michel Roux Jr's comments about the future of the restaurant industry 

Nearly 600 new skyscrapers for London

From last Sunday, eligible working parents of children from nine-months-old in England have been able to register for access to up to 15 free hours of government-funded childcare per week.

Those hours can be claimed from September. 

Some readers pointed out the T&Cs... 

This 15 hrs a week is for term time ONLY. So full-time working parents will have to either tell their employer they can't work in school holidays or pro-rata it across the year which is 10 hours a week. Yvonne grandma

Others said it spoke to issues in the wider childcare sector...

Is the government going to give pay rises to nursery staff? They are very low paid staff, and can't get enough staff as it is!! Nurseries may have to close if they don't get staff, so parents won't be able to take up the offer!! What is the government going to do about it? Carol

Chefs or delivery drivers?

Celebrity chef Michel Roux Jr has suggested that restaurants may only open three days per week because young people prefer other jobs - like delivering parcels. 

"Just because I worked 80 hours a week or more doesn't mean the next generation should," he said. 

"Quite the contrary. That is something that we have to address in our industry."

Readers said...

That's because one [job] is on the verge of slave labour and one definitely is slave labour. And the latter I'm referring to is working in a kitchen for a chef.  Realist2024
Spent 35 years working as a chef. Young people nowadays are not willing to do the extra hours (usually unpaid) and work every weekend. Godsends like my generation of chefs did and do.  Bucks

There's been considerable backlash in our comments section after a thinktank said a total of 583 skyscrapers are "queuing up in the pipeline" to be built across central London.

That is more than double the 270 built in the past decade...

"600 new skyscrapers on way for London" while the majority are struggling. When will something serious be done about growing wealth inequality in the UK? A growing economy is useless while the gap between the ultra rich and everyone else increases. Qwerty1
How many unnecessary skyscrapers for London? It's fine, as long as they are not made using steel, glass, concrete or bricks - don't people know there's a climate emergency? Shanghaiwan
Who's paying for it? What about the North? treelectrical

The energy price cap is set to fall by about 7% in July, a respected energy markets researcher has said.

Ahead of next Friday's announcement by Ofgem for the July-September period, Cornwall Insights said: "For a typical dual fuel household, we predict the July price cap to be £1,574 per annum" - a drop from £1,690.

Looking further ahead, it forecasted the cap will rise again slightly in October, before falling in January next year. 

"A predicted 7% drop in energy prices in July is clearly good news, with the price cap looking likely to hit its lowest level in over two years," a spokesperson for Uswitch said. 

Around 100 more prosecutions of sub-postmasters unrelated to the Horizon scandal could be "tainted" , a Sky News investigation has found, as officials worked with now discredited Post Office investigators to secure convictions.

The prosecutions of Post Office staff were led by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) between 2001 and 2006.

It is understood these usually involved the cashing in of stolen order books.

The Post Office itself wrongly prosecuted hundreds of sub-postmasters between 1999 and 2015 - based on evidence from the faulty Horizon accounting system.

Read more from our business correspondent Adele Robinson  by clicking  here ...

The UK's mega rich are dwindling in a sign Britain's "billionaire boom has come to an end" , according to the latest Sunday Times Rich List.

The list reveals the largest fall in billionaires in the guide's history - from a peak of 177 in 2022 to 165 this year.

While the combined wealth of the list's 350 wealthiest individuals amounts to more than £795bn - larger than the GDP of Poland - the guide's compiler says time will tell what impact a drop in billionaires could have.

"This year's Sunday Times Rich List suggests Britain's billionaire boom has come to an end," Robert Watts said.

Read on here ...

The Money blog is your place for consumer news, economic analysis and everything you need to know about the cost of living - bookmark news.sky.com/money.

It runs with live updates every weekday - while on Saturdays we scale back and offer you a selection of weekend reads.

Check them out this morning and we'll be back on Monday with rolling news and features.

The Money team is Emily Mee, Bhvishya Patel, Jess Sharp, Katie Williams, Brad Young and Ollie Cooper, with sub-editing by Isobel Souster. The blog is edited by Jimmy Rice.

The Body Shop’s administrators are to launch an auction of the chain after concluding that an alternative restructuring of one of Britain’s best-known high street retailers was not viable.

Sky News has learnt that FRP Advisory, which has been overseeing the collapsed business since January, is to begin formally sounding out potential buyers in the coming weeks.

The move raises the prospect of new owners taking control of The Body Shop, which was founded nearly half a century ago.

Read more here ...

The UK's mega rich are dwindling - in a sign Britain's "billionaire boom has come to an end", according to the latest Sunday Times Rich List.

Published today, the list reveals the largest fall in billionaires in the guide's history - from a peak of 177 in 2022 to 165 this year.

"Many of our home-grown entrepreneurs have seen their fortunes fall and some of the global super rich who came here are moving away."

Top of the list is British-Indian businessman Gopi Hinduja and his family, whose wealth of £37.2bn is the largest fortune in the ranking's history.

But other familiar names in the list saw their riches fall, with Sir Richard Branson's total dropping by £2.4bn, which is back to his 2000 level.

Last year's top climber Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who bought a stake in Manchester United this year, fell two positions with a decline of £6.1bn.

Euan Blair, Tony Blair's eldest son, made the list for the first time, as did Sir Lewis Hamilton.

It comes as the UK continues to deal with a cost-of-living crisis, with new figures this week revealing a record 3.1 million food bank parcels were distributed over the course of a year.

The top 10:

  • Gopi Hinduja - £37.2bn
  • Sir Leonard Blavtanik - £29.2bn
  • David and Simon Reuben and family - £24.9bn
  • Sir Jim Ratcliffe - £23.5bn
  • Sir James Dyson and family - £20.8bn
  • Barnaby and Merlin Swire and family - £17.2bn
  • Idan Ofer - £14.9bn
  • Lakshmi Mittal and family - £14.9bn
  • Guy, George, Alannah and Galen Weston and family - £14.4bn
  • John Fredriksen and family - £12.8bn

A group of social media influencers have been charged in relation to promoting an unauthorised investment scheme.

The Only Way Is Essex (TOWIE) original cast member Lauren Goodger, 37, former Love Island star Biggs Chris, 32, and Celebrity Big Brother winner Scott Timlin, 36, also known as Scotty T, are among seven TV personalities alleged to have been paid to promote the scheme to their combined 4.5 million Instagram followers.

The others charged by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) include former Love Islanders Rebecca Gormley, 26, Jamie Clayton, 32, and Eva Zapico, 25 and TOWIE member Yazmin Oukhellou, 30.

The UK's financial watchdog brought the charges in a crackdown on "finfluencers" who use their online platforms to offer advice and information on various financial topics.

It alleges that between 19 May 2018 and 13 April 2021 Emmanuel Nwanze, 30, and Holly Thompson, 33, used an Instagram account to provide advice on buying and selling investments known as contracts for difference (CFDs) when they were not authorised to do so.

The watchdog said CFDs were high-risk investments used to bet on the price of an asset, in this case the price of foreign currencies.

It previously warned that 80% of customers lost money when investing in CDFs.

Mr Nwanze has been charged with running the scheme. He faces one count of breaching the general prohibition of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, and one count of unauthorised communications of financial promotions.

Ms Thompson, Mr Chris, Mr Clayton, Ms Goodger, Ms Gormley, Ms Oukhellou, Mr Timlin and Ms Zapico each face one count of unauthorised communications of financial promotions.

All nine will appear at Westminster Magistrates Court on 13 June.

The FCA asked anyone who believed they had sustained a loss due to the scheme to contact its consumer contact centre.

A hotel part-owned by Gary Neville and other ex-Manchester United legends has been named one of the best places to work in hospitality. 

Each year, The Caterer releases its top 30 best places for employees in the sector, with the top six featuring some familiar names.

The list is compiled via anonymous employee survey - with no input from managers or owners. 

Hotel Football, the only hotel with a rooftop five-a-side pitch, was among the top six venues selected by employees across the UK. 

The hotel's benefits package was particularly well-praised by those who work there - given that it "prioritises the financial wellbeing of employees during the cost of living challenge".

Management at the hotel, which is situated next to Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium, was also praised for enhanced maternity, paternity, parental and adoption leave policies and a strong belief in diversity and inclusion. 

The other five to make up the top six are The Biltmore in Mayfair, Cycas Hospitality (which has 18 locations across the UK), Dalata (which boasts some 1,000 employees), Gleneagles Hotel in Edinburgh and Nobu Hotel in Shoreditch, London. 

The energy price cap is set to fall by about 7% in July, a leading thinktank has said. 

Cornwall Insights said: "For a typical dual fuel household, we predict the July price cap to be £1,574 per annum" - a drop from £1,690.

Looking further ahead, it forecasted the cap to rise again slightly in October, before falling again in January next year. 

Reacting to the news, Uswitch said the predicted drop was "clearly good news". 

"The future still remains uncertain, and with the price cap changing every three months – currently expected to rise in October before falling slightly in January –  it's crucial not to be complacent," Richard Neudegg, director of regulation, said. 

However, "a predicted 7% drop in energy prices in July is clearly good news, with the price cap looking likely to hit its lowest level in over two years", he said. 

He also urged  households who want to lock in rates for price certainty to run a comparison to see what energy tariffs are available to them.

"There are many 12-month fixed tariffs available at rates cheaper than the current price cap, and even some that are 2% below these new predicted July rates," he said. 

Be the first to get Breaking News

Install the Sky News app for free

how can you start off a book report

Trump trial recap: Listen to clip of Trump, Michael Cohen allegedly talking hush money

Editor's note: This page reflects the news of Donald Trump's criminal trial on Monday, May 13. For the latest news from the hush money trial in New York, follow our live updates from the courtroom for Tuesday, May 14 .

Michael Cohen took a Manhattan jury step by step through Donald Trump's alleged efforts to buy the silence of adult film actress Stormy Daniels in the waning weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Under gentle questioning from prosecutors, Trump's former fixer said the reality TV star told him to "Just do it" when the time came to pay Daniels $130,000 to stay quiet about a purported sexual encounter .

"Women are gonna hate me," Cohen recalled Trump saying of the potential bombshell. "Guys may think it's cool, but this is going to be a disaster for the campaign." Cohen testified that he, Trump, and Trump Organization executive Allen Weisselberg together discussed how the reality-star-turned-president would reimburse Cohen for the payment he'd made to Daniels.

Listen to a recording that jurors heard of Trump and Cohen allegedly discussing a hush money deal here:

Prep for the polls: See who is running for president and compare where they stand on key issues in our Voter Guide

Cohen served time in federal prison for lying to Congress, tax evasion, and for his role in the hush money payments. Trump is charged with falsifying business records to cover up the true purpose of his reimbursements to Cohen.

Here are key events from Monday's proceedings, the first-ever criminal trial of a former president:

Trump blasts judge, prosecutor again while leaving court

Former President Donald Trump repeated familiar arguments against his New York hush money trial as he left court for the day, complaining that Judge Juan Merchan is “corrupt” and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg hasn’t proved his case.

“This is a scam,” Trump said. “It’s a terrible thing that’s happening to democracy in this country.”

More: A guilty verdict? Donald Trump and allies are bracing voters for the worst

Trump has criticized Merchan because his daughter works for Democratic politicians, but a state ethics board cleared the judge to preside over the case. Trump also criticized Bragg for bringing a case that the Justice Department, the Federal Election Commission and Bragg’s predecessor as district attorney declined to prosecute.

In a nearly seven-minute address, Trump read a series of statements favoring him or criticizing the trial by academics, legal experts or lawmakers who support him, such as Ohio GOP Sen. J.D. Vance .

“We have a corrupt judge,” Trump said. “He ought to let us go out and campaign.”

– Bart Jansen

Monday proceedings end; Michael Cohen to continue testifying Tuesday

Judge Juan Merchan declared an end to Monday's testimony. Michael Cohen will be due back on the stand for more testimony Tuesday morning.

– Aysha Bagchi

Trump promised to name Cohen 'personal attorney' to the president, ex lawyer says

Cohen testified that Trump said he would name Cohen personal attorney to the president. Cohen said Trump made that promise around the same time of the meeting where Cohen, Trump, and Weisselberg discussed reimbursing the payment to Stormy Daniels. He said the promise happened either in the meeting or shortly afterwards.

Why Cohen's testimony on meeting with Trump and Weisselberg is key

Cohen's testimony on Donald Trump approving the scheme for reimbursing Cohen is important for the prosecution. Trump is charged with falsifying business records to cover up that a series of $35,000 payments to Cohen in 2017 were reimbursements for the hush money Cohen paid Daniels.

Prosecutors need to not only show the records were false − but also that Trump himself had an intent to defraud. This testimony speaks to Trump's knowledge of the alleged scheme to reimburse Cohen while falsifying what the payments to Cohen were for.

More: What happens if Trump is found guilty in hush money case? Prison is certainly an option.

Key testimony: Cohen says Trump approved reimbursement scheme

In key testimony for the prosecution, Cohen testified he met with Donald Trump and Allen Weisselberg and Trump approved the plan to repay Cohen for the Stormy Daniels hush money through a scheme that involved stretching out payments over 12 months in 2017. 

In Trump's presence, Weisselberg said during the meeting that the money would be repaid as a monthly retainer for legal services, Cohen testified. A legal retainer is an agreement with a lawyer about compensation that reserves a lawyer or pays for future services.

Weisselberg said the money to Cohen was a monthly retainer even though the three men were actually discussing repaying Cohen for the hush money, as well as giving him a bonus and repaying him for a separate expense, according to Cohen.

"He approved it," Cohen told jurors, speaking about Trump.

Trump added, according to Cohen: "This is gonna be one heck of a ride in DC."

Trump promised to 'take care of' Cohen's insulting bonus, the former lawyer testifies

Cohen said, after learning his year-end bonus had been cut by two thirds, he was angry and immediately went to Allen Weisselberg , Trump's chief financial officer. "I used quite a few expletives," Cohen said.

"You didn't lay out the money, I did," Cohen said he told Weisselberg, speaking of the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels. He complained the best he got was a substantially reduced bonus.

"Take it easy, you know that Mr. Trump loves you," Weisselberg responded, according to Cohen. Weisselberg promised they would make sure Cohen was taken care of, saying they were going to make things right after the holiday, when everyone returned to the office.

More: Allen Weisselberg, ex-CFO of Trump Organization, sentenced to 5 months for perjury

"I was, even for myself, unusually angry," Cohen said. Hus fury was less about the number than the "disrespect that came with it," he said.

Cohen described later getting a call from Trump. "Don't worry about that other thing – I'm going to take care of it," Trump said, according to Cohen. Trump explained he had spoken with Weisselberg and knew Cohen was angry, but promised they would take care of it.

Cohen 'beyond angry,' 'personally hurt' by slashed 2016 Trump bonus

Michael Cohen described doing a "double take" at his 2016 year-end bonus after seeing Donald Trump , by then president-elect, had cut it by two-thirds. Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked Cohen how he felt. "Beyond angry," Cohen said.

Trump's former hatchet man went on about his feelings: "Truly insulted, personally hurt by it, didn't understand it, made no sense."

Cohen said that, after all he had gone through, including with the $130,000 hush money he paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, "it was insulting that the gratitude shown back to me was to cut the bonus by two thirds."

Eric Trump smirks as Cohen describes crushed ego over top White House job

Michael Cohen said he was disappointed that his name hadn't been included among those considered for the critical job of Trump's White House chief of staff. "I didn't want the role. I didn't believe the role was right for me" or even that "I was even competent," Cohen testified. But he wanted his name on the list.

Just after Cohen said that, Eric Trump turned his face to the left and smirked. The Trump son is seated in the first row of benches behind the Trump defense team.

Cohen went on to say his feelings were more about his "ego" than anything else. "Again, it was solely for my ego."

More: Who is Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg? Prosecutor has battled Donald Trump in court before

Prosecutor expects questioning of Cohen to go into Tuesday

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger said at the start of a short afternoon break in testimony that she expects her questioning of Michael Cohen to go into part of Tuesday. 

Hoffinger was responding to a question from Judge Juan Merchan . The Trump defense team will have the chance to cross-examine Cohen after the prosecution has finished its initial questioning.

More: 'Women will hate me:' Trump's concerns on 2016 scandals were about campaign, Cohen testifies

Read Hope Hicks, Michael Cohen emails responding to hush money story

Jurors were shown a Nov. 4, 2016 email exchange between top Trump aide Hope Hicks and Michael Cohen over how to respond to a Wall Street Journal story on a Trump hush money deal involving former Playboy model Karen McDougal. The exchange took place just four days ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

You can read the full exchange here:

Cohen recommended blaming 'liberal media' for Wall Street Journal hush money story

Jurors were shown a Nov. 4, 2016 email from 2016 Trump campaign press secretary Hope Hicks proposing four possible responses to a request for comment from the Wall Street Journal. The Journal published a story that day on the hush money deal between former Playboy model Karen McDougal and the parent company for the National Enquirer.

Hicks' proposals denied knowledge that McDougal's story was being shopped around. But the proposal Cohen sent back was more vague. It said the accusations were untrue and alleged "the Clinton machine" and "the liberal media" were trying to distract the public.

Trump's secret code name was 'David Dennison' during hush money deal, Cohen says

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger is taking Michael Cohen through documents tied to the hush money deal with Stormy Daniels. In at least one document, Cohen said he signed "DD" for Trump, who was referred to in the agreement by the pseudonym "David Dennison."

More: Who is Michael Cohen, the 'pathological liar' at the center of Trump's hush-money case?

Trump said, 'Don't worry, you'll get the money back,' Michael Cohen tells jury

Cohen said he and Allen Weisselberg told Trump that Cohen was going to pay the hush money to keep Stormy Daniels quiet ahead of the 2016 election. Trump was "appreciative and, 'Good, good,'" Cohen said, seeming to describe Trump repeating that word twice.

"He stated to me, don't worry, you'll get the money back," Cohen added.

Cohen said he wouldn't have paid for the $130,000 for the non-disclosure agreement without an understanding that he would get paid back.

Cohen asked Weisselberg to pay Stormy Daniels: testimony

Michael Cohen said he had a discussion with Allen Weisselberg the potential hush money payment to Stormy Daniels. Cohen asked Weisselberg to make the payment, but Weisselberg said he was too stretched for cash. Weisselberg described having grandchildren in prep school and summer camps that he was paying for.

"Don't worry about it," Weisselberg allegedly told Cohen about paying Daniels. I will "make sure you get paid back."

'Just do it': Trump allegedly told Cohen on Stormy Daniels hush money

Cohen said he was feeling pressure in October of 2016 about Stormy Daniels because he feared she would give her story about Trump to the Daily Mail.

Cohen said he spoke to Trump about it. "Just do it," Trump allegedly told Cohen. Trump instructed Cohen to meet up with then-Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg "and figure this whole thing out."

Cohen describes interview with Wolf Blitzer on Access Hollywood tape

Cohen described giving an interview to CNN's Wolf Blitzer after the release of the Access Hollywood tape in October of 2016. "I advocated for Mr. Trump in the best light possible," Cohen said of the interview. He added that he told Blitzer he had never seen Trump "act in this sort of manner before."

Cohen told jurors he was, at the time, doing everything he could to "change the direction of the comments."

Cohen asked about call to Trump on Oct. 18, 2016

Jurors were shown a text message from Melania Trump to Cohen, asking Cohen to call Donald Trump. The text was sent on Oct. 18, 2016 at 8:53 a.m. Cohen said he would normally have been in the office by that time and believes he called Trump from a landline at the Trump Organization .

Cohen discusses opening bank account with false information

Cohen described opening a bank account at First Republic Bank for a limited liability company he wanted to use for a potential hush money payment to Daniels. Cohen confirmed to prosecutor Susan Hoffinger that he provided the bank with a false description of the purpose of the account.

Cohen's former banker at First Republic Bank, Gary Farro, has already testified. He said if he had known Cohen was setting up a shell company that didn't have a business behind it, he wouldn't have helped Cohen . However, when Cohen said he was opening a new company to collect fees for consulting work in real estate deals, it didn't raise alarm bells for Farro, he said.

Eric Trump calls Michael Cohen’s testimony ‘rehearsed’

Former President Donald Trump has been ordered not to comment on jurors or on witness participation in the case, but that hasn’t stopped his surrogates, including son Eric Trump , who attended court Monday.

“I have never seen anything more rehearsed!” Eric Trump said in a social media post about the testimony of Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Michael Cohen testimony has resumed

Michael Cohen began testifying again at 2:03 p.m. EDT, after a lunch break.

Court on lunch break until 2 p.m. EDT

Judge Juan Merchan declared a break in Michael Cohen's testimony for lunch. "See you at two," Merchan said.

'He wasn't thinking about Melania. This was all about the campaign.'

Cohen testified that Trump instructed him to push out paying Stormy Daniels as long as he could, and to just get past the election. Trump allegedly said if he won the election before the story could be released, the story would then have "no relevance." Trump added, according to Cohen: "And if I lose, I wouldn't care."

According to Cohen, Trump also asked how long he – Trump – would be on the market for, and then answered his own question: "Not long." Cohen testified he understood that to mean Trump's concern, when it came to the potential Daniels story, was about the election, not his wife.

"He wasn't thinking about Melania. This was all about the campaign," Cohen said.

Cohen said he was instructed by Trump: "Push it past the election day." "I was following directions," Cohen added.

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger showed jurors communication between Cohen and then-Daniels lawyer Keith Davidson, who has already testified. Cohen explained that Davidson was pushing for the hush money to be paid by Oct. 14, 2016.

However, Cohen told jurors he had a clear plan: "Delay."

'Women will hate me,' 'Guys may think it's cool': Trump allegedly said on Stormy Daniels story

Cohen testified that Trump instructed him, when it came to a potential Stormy Daniels story ahead of the 2016 election: "Just take care of it." Trump also characterized it as a "total disaster," according to Cohen.

"Women are gonna hate me," Trump allegedly said. "Guys may think it's cool, but this is going to be a disaster for the campaign," Trump added, according to Cohen.

Cohen said Trump was thinking of the coupling of the story with the Access Hollywood tape, which had already hit the press. Trump allegedly said, "This is a disaster" and "Get control over it."

'She was a beautiful woman,' Trump said of Stormy Daniels: testimony

Cohen said he asked if Trump had an affair with Stormy Daniels and Trump didn't answer the question. However, when Cohen asked Trump what Daniels looked like, Trump allegedly responded: "She was a beautiful woman."

Trump boasted women prefer him to 'Big Ben' Roethlisberger in Stormy Daniels conversation: testimony

Trump said he and Ben Roethlisberger had met Stormy Daniels, Cohen testified. Trump added that women prefer him even above someone like "Big Ben," Cohen told the jurors.

–Aysha Bagchi

'Do it. Take care of it.': Trump to Cohen on Stormy Daniels, per testimony

When Cohen went to Trump about learning from Dylan Howard about a story from Stormy Daniels concerning an alleged sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, Cohen said he made a suggestion about how to handle it. Trump responded, according to Cohen: "Do it. Take care of it."

Trump told Cohen he knew who Stormy Daniels was: testimony

Cohen said he went to Trump and told him he learned from Dylan Howard about a story that Stormy Daniels had a sexual encounter with him.

Cohen asked Trump if he knew who Daniels was. "He told me that he did," Cohen testified.

Cohen said he told Trump about a website called "TheDirty.com" having posted about a relationship between Daniels and Trump during a golf outing going back to 2006.

'Catastrophic': Cohen's thought when he learned of Stormy Daniels story

Cohen described learning that porn star Stormy Daniels was trying to sell a story of a sexual encounter with Trump. He said his thoughts were that it was "catastrophic, that this is horrible for the campaign."

Cohen said he learned of it from then-National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard.

Chris Cuomo text to Cohen: 'You going to defend him?'

Jurors were shown text messages that Cohen testified were between him and Chris Cuomo , who was then an on-camera journalist at CNN. The messages were exchanged soon after the release of the Access Hollywood tape featuring Trump boasting about grabbing women's genitals.

"You going to defend him?" Cuomo asked Cohen.

Cohen responded with three separate messages, first, "I'm in London," second, "I have been asked by everyone to do shows starting Tuesday," and third, "Not sure what I will do."

Cuomo replied with two messages, first, "Will be too late" and second, "He is dying right now."

Cohen said the concern at the time was that the tape would be significantly impactful when it came to the campaign, especially with women voters.

'Put a spin on this': Trump to Cohen on Access Hollywood, per testimony

Cohen described having phone calls with Trump about the Access Hollywood tape while Cohen was with his family and friends in London having dinner. Cohen stepped out to take the calls, he said.

Speaking about what Trump said, Cohen testified: "He wanted me to reach out to all of my contacts in the media. We needed to put a spin on this. And the spin that he wanted put on it was that this is locker room talk – something that Melania had recommended, or at least he told me that that's what Melania had thought it was – and use that in order to get control over the story and to minimize its impact on him and his campaign."

Cohen says Hope Hicks called him about Access Hollywood tape

Michael Cohen described getting a call from Hope Hicks during the 2016 presidential campaign about the infamous Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump boasted about kissing women without waiting and grabbing their genitals.

3 GOP lawmakers support Trump and blast judge, prosecutor, Cohen

Three Republican lawmakers who attended Trump’s hush money trial Monday blasted the judge, prosecutor and star witness, Michael Cohen, on the courthouse steps.

Trump is prohibited from commenting on Cohen, his former personal lawyer, because of a gag order from Judge Juan Merchan.

“This guy is a convicted felon who admitted in his testimony that he secretly recorded his former employer,” Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, said of Cohen. “Does any reasonable, sensible person believe anything that Michael Cohen says? I don’t think that they should.”

Vance also said Democratic operatives were handling the case, including Merchan because his daughter works for Democratic political candidates, and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

“What’s going on inside that courtroom is a threat to American democracy,” Vance said. “This is a disgrace and I wanted to show some support for my friend.”

Sen. Tommy Tuberville , R-Ala., complained that the courtroom is depressing and authorities are trying to impose mental anguish on Trump.

“The DA comes in and acts like it’s his Super Bowl. Maybe it is, to be noticed,” said Tuberville, a former football coach at the University of Alabama. “I’m glad to stand by President Trump. I’m a friend of his. I’m here more as a friend than backing him as a candidate for president.”

Tuberville also blasted Cohen as a convicted felon.

“This guy, he’s giving an acting scene,” Tuberville said. “How can you be convinced by somebody that is a serial liar? There should be no reason anybody should listen to this guy.”

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., also criticized Cohen as a convicted, disbarred perjurer.

“The people of the state of New York know this is a sham trial,” she said.

Cohen describes failed effort to buy Karen McDougal's story from Pecker's company

After American Media Inc, the parent company for the National Enquirer, bought Karen McDougal's story, Cohen tried to arrange a deal to pay the company $125,000 to buy the story, he said.

David Pecker, who headed the parent company at the time of these discussions, already testified that the $125,000 figure was arrived at because the remaining $25,000 of the $150,000 the company paid McDougal was meant to value other things the company was getting as part of the deal with her, such as articles under her name.

Cohen described an effort to pay the $125,000 for the story in a way that would shield what was happening and separate the transaction from Trump. Jurors saw a document in which the parent media company would assign the rights to McDougal's story to a company called "Resolution Consultants LLC." They also saw a document characterizing $125,000 as an agreed upon "flat fee" for "advisory services," which Cohen testified was not truthful because the $125,000 was actually to get the life rights to McDougal's story

However, Cohen said Pecker told him the $125,00 was no longer necessary because Pecker felt he had gotten a lot from the McDougal deal. Pecker allegedly told Cohen a McDougal front cover on Men's Health Magazine "had sold more copies than they had not only anticipated," but than "they had ever sold." Pecker noted he had a second cover to come from McDougal as well as 24 stories under her name through the deal, which Cohen said Pecker described as "excellent."

Vice presidential candidates travel to New York to back up Trump

A bevy of potential Republican vice presidential possibilities are flocking to New York this week to audition for Trump.

While Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance attended the court session Monday, other running mate candidates are expected to travel to New York City for a Trump fundraiser on Tuesday.

That guest list includes South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott , Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum .

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem , who suspended her book tour because of so many questions about shooting her dog, is also expected to attend Trump's fundraiser in Manhattan on Tuesday.

Vance is scheduled to be with Trump at another fundraiser in Cincinnati on Wednesday, an off day for the trial.

– Kinsey Crowley

Cohen describes conversation with Allen Weisselberg on McDougal hush money payment

Cohen says he used to have a good relationship with Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization. Weisselberg is currently in jail for committing perjury in Trump's New York civil fraud trial.

Cohen described having "maybe 10, 12" conversations with Weisselberg about the hush money deal with Karen McDougal, including about how to pay the money. Ultimately, the parent company for the National Enquirer paid McDougal $150,000.

In one of the conversations, Weisselberg told Cohen, per Cohen's testimony: "If we do it from a Trump entity, that kind of defeats the purpose." Weisselberg allegedly went on to explain the payment mechanism needs to "create a barrier" between the deal and the Trump world. Weisselberg sait to think about ways to raise the $150,000, according to Cohen.

Cohen says he stopped recording after getting what he needed from Trump

The recording between Trump and Cohen ends as their conversation is ongoing, which may be a significant focus for Trump's legal team when they have the chance to cross-examine Cohen later in the trial.

However, Cohen just gave an explanation. He said he stopped recording because he captured what he meant to capture: a statement from Trump that would "appease" David Pecker when it came to Pecker's concern about being paid back for the $150,000 to Karen McDougal in the hush money deal.

Read transcript of Trump-Cohen recording played for jurors

Prosecutors have shown the jury a transcript of the recording between Trump and Cohen that we have been listening to, which Cohen said was about arrangements to buy Karen McDougal's story of an affair with Trump.

You can read the full transcript here:

Jury hears recording of Trump and Cohen allegedly talking about McDougal deal

The prosecution just played a recording for the jury of Trump and Cohen having a discussion. The jurors have already heard this recording in the trial.

"I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend, David," Cohen tells Trump on the recording.

Cohen just explained to jurors that "David" was "David Pecker," and the company was a way to have "separation," to keep the deal away from Trump. He said that was "for privacy purposes" and "for the benefit of Mr. Trump."

'Fantastic. Great job.': Trump quoted on McDougal hush money deal

Cohen said when he told Trump the hush money deal had closed to buy the rights to Karen McDougal's story of an affair with Trump, the then-presidential candidate responded: "Fantastic. Great job."

Trump eyes closed, appears at least somewhat awake

Trump still has his eyes closed as Michael Cohen is testifying. I just counted to 50 at 11:05 a.m. EDT, with a "Mississippi" in between each number, and Trump never opened his eyes. He did move his head to his right and later to his left during that time, so he does appear to be at least somewhat awake. His behavior continues to contrast with his son, Eric Trump , who seemed to be watching Cohen testify throughout that time.

Cohen describes $150,000 deal for McDougal's story

Cohen described the agreement he was told the National Enquirer's parent company reached with Karen McDougal to buy her story. McDougal would get $150,000 and the media company would provide her with 24 penned articles under her name, Cohen said. She would also be on two covers of one of the various magazines the media company owned, Cohen added.

Jurors shown texts as Cohen says he was trying to reach Trump about McDougal

Jurors were shown text messages of Cohen trying to reach Trump on June 16, 2016. Cohen testified he wanted to update Trump on a meeting between then-National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard and "McDougal's people" about potentially buying the rights to her story of an affair with Trump.

'She's really beautiful': Cohen quotes Trump response on former Playboy model's story

Cohen said he brought up Karen McDougal to Trump, after Cohen learned she was shopping a story around. McDougal is a former Playboy model who says she had an affair that overlapped with Melania Trump's pregnancy. Trump denies the affair.

According to Cohen, when he raised McDougal with Trump, the real estate mogul responded: "She's really beautiful."

McDougal was a potential witness in this trial, but the prosecution has now said it won't call her.

'That's great,' Trump allegedly said of purchase of doorman's story

Cohen described updating Trump once the deal for buying the Trump Tower doorman's story was completed. "That's great," Trump responded, according to Cohen.

Cohen updated Trump 'immediately' on doorman story purchase process

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked Cohen if he updated Trump when he got updates about the process of preventing a Trump Tower doorman's story from becoming public. "Immediately," Cohen replied.

That's helpful testimony for the prosecution in tying Trump to at least the hush money payment to the doorman. A later hush money payment that went directly from Cohen to a lawyer for Stormy Daniels is the payment that's at the core of the charges against Trump.

'You handle it': Cohen describes purchase of Trump Tower doorman's story

Cohen just testified about the process under which American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, purchased the story of Dino Sajudin, a doorman at Trump Tower. The story – which has been widely questioned, and denied by Trump – was that Trump fathered a child out of wedlock with a housekeeper. Sajudin didn't say he had any personal knowledge about it, but said he had heard the story.

Trump told Cohen to make sure the story doesn't get out, Cohen said. "You handle it," he quoted Trump as saying. Trump also allegedly told Cohen to speak to employees and let them know the potential story was being taken care of.

Cohen described working with David Pecker and Dylan Howard to buy the life rights to the story, which is a way to prevent the person with the story from sharing it with other publications.

'Just be prepared. There's gonna be a lot of women coming forward.': Trump, according to Cohen

As Trump was planning his 2016 presidential campaign, he said to Cohen, according to Cohen's testimony: "Just be prepared. There's gonna be a lot of women coming forward."

National Enquirer was helping Trump campaign, Cohen testifies

Cohen described the National Enquirer helping the 2016 Trump campaign by publishing negative stories about Trump's political competitors. David Pecker, the former head of the National Enquirer's parent company, described this earlier in the trial as well. Jurors were shown at the time several articles that were run, such as a March 30, 2016, article titled: "TED CRUZ SEX SCANDAL – 5 SECRET MISTRESSES."

Cohen also described a meeting jurors have been previously told about in Trump Tower in August of 2015. At that meeting, Pecker previously testified he promised to be "eyes and ears" for the campaign, helping Trump and Cohen prevent negative stories about Trump from getting out.

Cohen describes speaking to Trump about presidential run in 2011

Cohen described speaking to Trump about running for president in 2011. He said he brought Trump an article about the idea of Trump running, and he set up a website, "shouldtrumprun.com." Many people came to that website, which was further proof Trump's popularity was so strong, Cohen testified.

Asked why Trump didn't run then, Cohen said Trump had acquired several large real estate projects, and there was another season of The Apprentice. "You don't need Hollywood, Hollywood needs you," Trump said, according to Cohen.

But Trump promised Cohen he would run for president in the next election cycle, Cohen said. For years thereafter, they would talk about Trump running in 2016, Cohen said.

Is Trump sleeping in courtroom?

Trump's eyes continue to be closed as Michael Cohen testifies. I just counted to 50, with a "Mississippi" between each number, without Trump opening his eyes or moving his head. It's 10:16 a.m. EDT, and Cohen is currently testifying about communications with Dylan Howard, the former editor of the National Enquirer.

Cohen says he and David Pecker sometimes wanted non-traceable communication

Cohen said he met David Pecker, who used to head the parent company of the National Enquirer, at a function on Long Island many years ago, and were re-acquainted later. Pecker has already testified that he participated with Cohen and Trump in a "catch-and-kill" scheme to snap up stories that could hurt Trump in the 2016 election.

Cohen said he and Pecker would sometimes communicate over an encrypted messaging application, Signal. Asked why they used that application, Cohen said: "Depending upon the matter, sometimes we thought that encryption, not having the event traceable, would be beneficial."

Trump believed an email address created risk of indictment: Cohen

Cohen said he generally communicated with Trump either in person or on a cell phone. He is still talking about the time he worked for Trump before the 2016 presidential election.

"Mr. Trump never had an email address," Cohen said. "He would comment that emails are like written papers, it's, he knows too many people who have gone down as a direct result of having emails that prosecutors can use in a case."

Cohen also said Trump liked to be kept abreast of developments from all his executives. "Keep me informed, let me know what's going on," Cohen characterized Trump as saying. "As soon as you had a result or answer, you would go straight back and tell him, especially if it was a matter that was troubling to him."

Cohen worked about 50 feet from Trump's office, spoke 'every single day'

Cohen described working "maybe 50 feet, 60 feet" from Trump's office in the time before Trump ran for president in 2016. Asked how often he met or spoke with Trump at the time, Cohen said: "Every single day, and multiple times per day."

Cohen helped Trump with now-shuttered Trump University

Cohen described beginning to work for Trump with an agreement to a $375,000 base salary. "Bonus of course was to be discussed," Cohen said after prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked about a bonus. Cohen just described re-negotiating bills for Trump University, a now-shuttered institution. Trump settled fraud lawsuits tied to Trump University for $25 million.

Cohen also said he would speak to members of the press in a threatening way about stories that were bad for Trump, telling them to take the stories down.

Trump's eyes closed as Cohen testifies

Donald Trump's eyes are closed as Cohen is testifying. I just counted to 30, with a "Mississippi" in between each number, without Trump opening his eyes. I stopped counting, but his eyes remain closed. That's in contrast to Eric Trump, who is seated in a bench row behind his father and appears to be watching Cohen testify.

Sens. J.D. Vance, Tommy Tuberville join Trump at New York trial

Trump was joined at his New York hush money trial on Monday by his son Eric and Sens. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, and Tommy Tuberville , R-Ala.

Vance patted Trump on the shoulder after he railed against the prosecution to reporters outside the courtroom.

Other lawmakers have joined the former president at previous court sessions, including Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., as Trump has complained the charges represent election interference to keep him off the presidential campaign trail.

Michael Cohen begins testifying

The prosecution called Michael Cohen to the witness stand. Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger is asking Cohen introductory questions. He said he is 57 years old. His marriage is going on 30 years, he said. His father survived the Holocaust. He was introduced to Trump by Trump son Donald Trump Jr.

Judge denies prosecution's request to show jury Weisselberg deal

Judge Merchan opened proceedings today by denying a request the prosecution made on Friday to show jurors a severance agreement that the prosecution believes would offer a reason why former Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg hasn't testified. Merchan said the agreement doesn't prove an element of an offense Trump is charged with. "It doesn't move the ball in any way" in terms of satisfying your burden of proof, Merchan told prosecutors this morning.

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass said on Friday the agreement appears to put Weisselberg at risk of losing $750,000 in severance pay if he talks to the prosecution.

Weisselberg is currently serving a five-month jail sentence for committing perjury during Trump's New York civil fraud trial.

Trump calls payments to Cohen legitimate ‘legal expense’

Former President Donald Trump didn’t mention his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, before entering the courtroom Monday for his New York hush money trial, but continued to blast the Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and Judge Juan Merchan for what he called election interference.

Cohen is expected to testify about paying porn actress Stormy Daniels to remain silent before the 2016 election about her claim of a sexual episode with Trump. Trump, who is charged with falsifying business records to reimburse Cohen, has denied having sex with Daniels and argued he was paying Cohen for legal expenses.

“We don’t call it construction work. We don’t say for concrete work. We don’t say for electrical work. We paid a lawyer a legal expense,” Trump told reporters outside the courtroom. “It’s perfectly marked down. The other side doesn’t know how to handle it but they say, ‘Let’s indict him anyway.’”

Judge arrives for Day 16 of Trump trial

Judge Juan Merchan entered the courtroom at 9:32 a.m. EDT for today's proceedings. "Good morning, counsel. Good morning, Mr. Trump," Merchan said after the legal teams identified themselves.

Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg present today

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is in the courtroom today. He entered at 9:23 a.m. EDT, shortly after former President Trump. Bragg has attended some but not all of the trial proceedings. He is seated in a bench two rows back from the prosecution table.

Trump arrives with son and Ohio Senator J.D. Vance

Former President Donald Trump entered the courtroom at 9:22 a.m. EDT. Trump's middle son, Eric, is here. Eric Trump has attended some previous days, including while Stormy Daniels testified. Sen. J.D. Vance , R-Ohio, accompanied the Trump team today as well.

Senator Bob Menendez trial happening down the street

The latest criminal trial of Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., starts today in a federal courthouse just blocks from Trump's New York hush money trial. Menendez faces allegations he took bribes, including cash and gold bars , in exchange for agreeing to help the governments of Egypt and Qatar. Federal prosecutors say the New Jersey senator as well as his wife, Nadine Menendez, conspired for him to act as a foreign agent.

Prosecutors arrive for Day 16 in hush money trial

The prosecution team entered the courtroom at 9:12 a.m. EDT. We are still waiting on the defense team, the judge, and the jury.

Read trial transcripts from Stormy Daniels, Hope Hicks

The court is publishing daily transcripts of proceedings, so you can read key testimony from more than a dozen witnesses , including Stormy Daniels and former top Trump aide Hope Hicks.

Transcripts and evidence are posted online at the New York State Unified Court System's media website. Records from each day are typically available by the end of the following business day.

− Kinsey Crowley  

Can you watch Trump's hush money trial?

No, the trial won't be televised or available to watch online or aired on TV.

New York court rules  state that audio-visual coverage of trials is not permitted unless a representative of the news media submits an application and the judge allows it.

Records show an application was submitted to cover the arraignment, but not the trial.  Judge Juan Merchan   rejected the request  to televise the arraignment.

– Kinsey Crowley and Aysha Bagchi

Where is the Trump trial?

Trump’s hush money trial is happening at the New York County Supreme Court in New York state, according to  a media advisory.  The location is 100 Centre St., Criminal Term, Part 59, Room 1530.

The proceedings normally start at 9:30 a.m. EDT, and the trial typically includes an off day on Wednesdays. 

–  Sudiksha Kochi

Was Trump's trial postponed?

If you heard about the former president's trial being delayed, that doesn't apply to his hush money case.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon  postponed indefinitely  Trump's trial on charges he hoarded classified documents after leaving the White House.

Cannon had tentatively  scheduled the trial to start May 20  but removed that date without setting a new one. She said she would set a new date that takes into account  Trump’s right to a fair trial  and the public’s right to the fair and efficient administration of justice.

− Bart Jansen and Marina Pitofsky

Who is Stormy Daniels?

Stormy Daniels , born Stephanie Clifford, is an adult film star.

Daniels says she had an affair with Trump in 2006, months after  Melania Trump  gave birth to Barron Trump. Trump's former lawyer  Michael Cohen  paid her $130,000 to stay quiet about the alleged affair ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Trump's lawyers tried to block Daniels from being called to the witness stand, but New York  Judge Juan Merchan ruled  that  Daniels can testify  because her allegations are "inextricably intertwined" with the criminal allegations.

− Kinsey Crowley ,  Bart Jansen

Who is Michael Cohen?

Michael Cohen  is the longtime lawyer and political fixer for Trump, but he has become an open critic of him in recent years.

In 2016, Cohen paid $130,000 in hush money to Daniels after her alleged relationship with the then-real estate mogul. "Everything was done with the knowledge and at the  direction of Mr. Trump ," Cohen said at a House hearing.

David Pecker, the first witness on the stand for the hush money trial, has testified he frequently communicated with Cohen about stories regarding Trump and his opponents leading up to the 2016 election. 

− Kinsey Crowley

What does Trump’s trial schedule look like?

Trump’s hush money trial is expected to last six to eight weeks after its April 15 start, according to  a media advisory  from New York’s Unified Court System. The courtroom normally opens at 9:30 a.m. eastern time, and the court takes off on Wednesdays. 

Judge Juan Merchan  ruled that court will break on May 17 so Trump can attend his son Barron Trump's high school graduation, and on May 24 due to a juror scheduling conflict.

− Sudiksha Kochi

What time does Trump's trial start today?

Proceedings in Donald Trump's hush money trial are expected to begin at 9:30 a.m. local time in New York.

– Marina Pitofsky

What is Trump on trial for?

Trump is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. Prosecutors say he falsified records to hide unlawfully interfering in the 2016 presidential election by violating campaign finance laws through the hush money to Daniels. Trump has pleaded not guilty.

Will Donald Trump go to prison?

Theoretically, Trump could go to prison for as many as 20 years if he's convicted on all counts. However, legal experts told USA TODAY that's highly unlikely. Most said he would probably face a sentence ranging from just probation to up to four years in prison. They also said, even if Trump were sentenced to incarceration, he would likely be free during his appeal.

TPWD announces start of red snapper season in federal waters off Texas

how can you start off a book report

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced Thursday the private recreational angler red snapper season in federal waters will open in June 1 of this year.

Red snapper fishing is open year-round in Texas state waters. Bag and size limits for federal and state waters will remain unchanged.

Per a release from TPWD, regulations for red snapper in federal waters consist of: 

  • Two fish per person per day with a 16-inch minimum size limit. 
  • Red snapper caught in federal waters counts as part of the state bag limit of four fish.  
  • No more than two red snapper can be in possession while in federal waters. 

A reminder on regulations for red snapper in state waters:  

  • Four fish per person per day with a 15-inch minimum size limit. 
  • No more than four red snapper can be in possession in state waters while fishing. 

SPOTTED SEA TROUT TPWD Commission announces tag system for oversized spotted sea trout | Here's how it works

Outdoors 'Here to serve all Texans': TPWD initiative working to make state parks compliant with ADA

Fishing Coastal Bend fishing legends inducted into Texas Saltwater Fishing Hall of Fame

“As always, our goal is to give Texas anglers as many days as possible fishing in federal water for red snapper while still maintaining our traditional yearlong fishery in Texas state waters,” said Robin Riechers, Coastal Fisheries Division Director. “State management in recent years has allowed us to have longer seasons as well as greater fishing opportunities.”

In the release, TPWD reminded anglers of the 2022 DESCEND Act, which states that all commercial and recreational anglers must possess a venting tool or a rigged descending device on their boat while fishing for reef fish in federal waters. Last year, Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopted rules inspired by the DESCEND Act. These regulations apply to all commercial and recreational anglers fishing in state water and require the use of a venting tool or rigged descending device for reef fish exhibiting signs of  barotrauma . 

The TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division will provide public notice of the private recreational season closing date before the state’s allotted catch limit has been reached. TPWD will update all communication platforms, including the  Outdoor Annual ,  website  and  social media accounts , when it determines that closing date.  

Law firms kicked off 2024 with strong demand and profits, report finds

  • Medium Text

German parliament's financial committee about the Wirecard case in Berlin

Sign up here.

Reporting by Karen Sloan

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. New Tab , opens new tab

how can you start off a book report

Thomson Reuters

Karen Sloan reports on law firms, law schools, and the business of law. Reach her at [email protected]

Read Next / Editor's Picks

Actor Alec Baldwin in New York

Industry Insight Chevron

how can you start off a book report

Mike Scarcella, David Thomas

how can you start off a book report

Karen Sloan

how can you start off a book report

Henry Engler

how can you start off a book report

Diana Novak Jones

how can you start off a book report

The Unpunished: How Extremists Took Over Israel

After 50 years of failure to stop violence and terrorism against Palestinians by Jewish ultranationalists, lawlessness has become the law.

Supported by

  • Share full article

Ronen Bergman

By Ronen Bergman and Mark Mazzetti

  • May 16, 2024

This story is told in three parts. The first documents the unequal system of justice that grew around Jewish settlements in Gaza and the West Bank. The second shows how extremists targeted not only Palestinians but also Israeli officials trying to make peace. The third explores how this movement gained control of the state itself. Taken together, they tell the story of how a radical ideology moved from the fringes to the heart of Israeli political power.

By the end of October, it was clear that no one was going to help the villagers of Khirbet Zanuta. A tiny Palestinian community, some 150 people perched on a windswept hill in the West Bank near Hebron, it had long faced threats from the Jewish settlers who had steadily encircled it. But occasional harassment and vandalism, in the days after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, escalated into beatings and murder threats. The villagers made appeal after appeal to the Israeli police and to the ever-present Israeli military, but their calls for protection went largely unheeded, and the attacks continued with no consequences. So one day the villagers packed what they could, loaded their families into trucks and disappeared.

Listen to this article, read by Jonathan Davis

Who bulldozed the village after that is a matter of dispute. The Israeli Army says it was the settlers; a senior Israeli police officer says it was the army. Either way, soon after the villagers left, little remained of Khirbet Zanuta besides the ruins of a clinic and an elementary school. One wall of the clinic, leaning sideways, bore a sign saying that it had been funded by an agency of the European Union providing “humanitarian support for Palestinians at risk of forcible transfer in the West Bank.” Near the school, someone had planted the flag of Israel as another kind of announcement: This is Jewish land now.

Such violence over the decades in places like Khirbet Zanuta is well documented. But protecting the people who carry out that violence is the dark secret of Israeli justice. The long arc of harassment, assault and murder of Palestinians by Jewish settlers is twinned with a shadow history, one of silence, avoidance and abetment by Israeli officials. For many of those officials, it is Palestinian terrorism that most threatens Israel. But in interviews with more than 100 people — current and former officers of the Israeli military, the National Israeli Police and the Shin Bet domestic security service; high-ranking Israeli political officials, including four former prime ministers; Palestinian leaders and activists; Israeli human rights lawyers; American officials charged with supporting the Israeli-Palestinian partnership — we found a different and perhaps even more destabilizing threat. A long history of crime without punishment, many of those officials now say, threatens not only Palestinians living in the occupied territories but also the State of Israel itself.

A roadblock near a Palestinian village.

Many of the people we interviewed, some speaking anonymously, some speaking publicly for the first time, offered an account not only of Jewish violence against Palestinians dating back decades but also of an Israeli state that has systematically and increasingly ignored that violence. It is an account of a sometimes criminal nationalistic movement that has been allowed to operate with impunity and gradually move from the fringes to the mainstream of Israeli society. It is an account of how voices within the government that objected to the condoning of settler violence were silenced and discredited. And it is a blunt account, told for the first time by Israeli officials themselves, of how the occupation came to threaten the integrity of their country’s democracy.

The interviews, along with classified documents written in recent months, reveal a government at war with itself. One document describes a meeting in March, when Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox, the head of Israel’s Central Command, responsible for the West Bank, gave a withering account of the efforts by Bezalel Smotrich — an ultraright leader and the official in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government with oversight over the West Bank — to undermine law enforcement in the occupied territory. Since Smotrich took office, Fox wrote, the effort to clamp down on illegal settlement construction has dwindled “to the point where it has disappeared.” Moreover, Fox said, Smotrich and his allies were thwarting the very measures to enforce the law that the government had promised Israeli courts it would take.

This is a story, pieced together and told in full for the first time, that leads to the heart of Israel. But it begins in the West Bank, in places like Khirbet Zanuta. From within the village’s empty ruins, there is a clear view across the valley to a tiny Jewish outpost called Meitarim Farm. Built in 2021, the farm has become a base of operations for settler attacks led by Yinon Levi, the farm’s owner. Like so many of the Israeli outposts that have been set up throughout the West Bank in recent years, Meitarim Farm is illegal. It is illegal under international law, which most experts say doesn’t recognize Israeli settlements in occupied land. It is illegal under Israeli law, like most settlements built since the 1990s.

Few efforts are made to stop the building of these outposts or the violence emanating from them. Indeed, one of Levi’s day jobs was running an earthworks company, and he has worked with the Israel Defense Forces to bulldoze at least one Palestinian village in the West Bank. As for the victims of that violence, they face a confounding and defeating system when trying to get relief. Villagers seeking help from the police typically have to file a report in person at an Israeli police station, which in the West Bank are almost exclusively located inside the settlements themselves. After getting through security and to the station, they sometimes wait for hours for an Arabic translator, only to be told they don’t have the right paperwork or sufficient evidence to submit a report. As one senior Israeli military official told us, the police “exhaust Palestinians so they won’t file complaints.”

And yet in November, with no protection from the police or the military, the former residents of Khirbet Zanuta and five nearby villages chose to test whether justice was still possible by appealing directly to Israel’s Supreme Court. In a petition, lawyers for the villagers, from Haqel, an Israeli human rights organization, argued that days after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, a raiding party that included settlers and Israeli soldiers assaulted village residents, threatened murder and destroyed property throughout the village. They stated that the raid was part of “a mass transfer of ancient Palestinian communities,” one in which settlers working hand in hand with soldiers are taking advantage of the current war in Gaza to achieve the longer-standing goal of “cleansing” parts of the West Bank, aided by the “sweeping and unprecedented disregard” of the state and its “de facto consent to the massive acts of deportation.”

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, and the relief the villagers are seeking — that the law be enforced — might seem modest. But our reporting reveals the degree to which decades of history are stacked against them: After 50 years of crime without punishment, in many ways the violent settlers and the state have become one.

Separate and Unequal

The devastating Hamas attacks in Israel on Oct. 7, the ongoing crisis of Israeli hostages and the grinding Israeli invasion and bombardment of the Gaza Strip that followed may have refocused the world’s attention on Israel’s ongoing inability to address the question of Palestinian autonomy. But it is in the West Bank where the corrosive long-term effects of the occupation on Israeli law and democracy are most apparent.

A sample of three dozen cases in the months since Oct. 7 shows the startling degree to which the legal system has decayed. In all the cases, involving misdeeds as diverse as stealing livestock and assault and arson, not a single suspect was charged with a crime; in one case, a settler shot a Palestinian in the stomach while an Israel Defense Forces soldier looked on, yet the police questioned the shooter for only 20 minutes, and never as a criminal suspect, according to an internal Israeli military memo. During our review of the cases, we listened to recordings of Israeli human rights activists calling the police to report various crimes against Palestinians. In some of the recordings, the police refused to come to the scene, claiming they didn’t know where the villages were; in one case, they mocked the activists as “anarchists.” A spokesman for the Israeli National Police declined to respond to repeated queries about our findings.

The violence and impunity that these cases demonstrate existed long before Oct. 7. In nearly every month before October, the rate of violent incidents was higher than during the same month in the previous year. And Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group, looking at more than 1,600 cases of settler violence in the West Bank between 2005 and 2023, found that just 3 percent ended in a conviction. Ami Ayalon, the head of Shin Bet from 1996 to 2000 — speaking out now because of his concern about Israel’s systemic failure to enforce the law — says this singular lack of consequences reflects the indifference of the Israeli leadership going back years. “The cabinet, the prime minister,” he says, “they signal to the Shin Bet that if a Jew is killed, that’s terrible. If an Arab is killed, that’s not good, but it’s not the end of the world.”

Ayalon’s assessment was echoed by many other officials we interviewed. Mark Schwartz, a retired American three-star general, was the top military official working at the United States Embassy in Jerusalem from 2019 to 2021, overseeing international support efforts for the partnership between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. “There’s no accountability,” he says now of the long history of settler crimes and heavy-handed Israeli operations in the West Bank. “These things eat away at trust and ultimately the stability and security of Israel and the Palestinian territories. It’s undeniable.”

How did a young nation turn so quickly on its own democratic ideals, and at what price? Any meaningful answer to these questions has to take into account how a half-century of lawless behavior that went largely unpunished propelled a radical form of ultranationalism to the center of Israeli politics. This is the history that is told here in three parts. In Part I, we describe the origins of a religious movement that established Jewish settlements in the newly won territories of Gaza and the West Bank during the 1970s. In Part II, we recount how the most extreme elements of the settler movement began targeting not only Palestinians but also Israeli leaders who tried to make peace with them. And in Part III, we show how the most established members of Israel’s ultraright, unpunished for their crimes, gained political power in Israel, even as a more radical generation of settlers vowed to eliminate the Israeli state altogether.

Many Israelis who moved to the West Bank did so for reasons other than ideology, and among the settlers, there is a large majority who aren’t involved in violence or other illegal acts against Palestinians. And many within the Israeli government fought to expand the rule of law into the territories, with some success. But they also faced harsh pushback, with sometimes grave personal consequences. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s efforts in the 1990s, on the heels of the First Intifada, to make peace with Yasir Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, gave rise to a new generation of Jewish terrorists, and they ultimately cost him his life.

The disagreement over how to handle the occupied territories and their residents has bred a complex and sometimes opaque system of law enforcement. At its heart are two separate and unequal systems of justice: one for Jews and another for Palestinians.

The West Bank is under the command of the I.D.F., which means that Palestinians are subject to a military law that gives the I.D.F. and the Shin Bet considerable authority. They can hold suspects for extended periods without trial or access to either a lawyer or the evidence against them. They can wiretap, conduct secret surveillance, hack into databases and gather intelligence on any Arab living in the occupied territory with few restrictions. Palestinians are subject to military — not civilian — courts, which are far more punitive when it comes to accusations of terrorism and less transparent to outside scrutiny. (In a statement, the I.D.F. said, “The use of administrative detention measures is only carried out in situations where the security authorities have reliable and credible information indicating a real danger posed by the detainee to the region’s security, and in the absence of other alternatives to remove the risk.” It declined to respond to multiple specific queries, in some cases saying “the events are too old to address.”)

According to a senior Israeli defense official, since Oct. 7, some 7,000 settler reservists were called back by the I.D.F., put in uniform, armed and ordered to protect the settlements. They were given specific orders: Do not leave the settlements, do not cover your faces, do not initiate unauthorized roadblocks. But in reality many of them have left the settlements in uniform, wearing masks, setting up roadblocks and harassing Palestinians.

All West Bank settlers are in theory subject to the same military law that applies to Palestinian residents. But in practice, they are treated according to the civil law of the State of Israel, which formally applies only to territory within the state’s borders. This means that Shin Bet might probe two similar acts of terrorism in the West Bank — one committed by Jewish settlers and one committed by Palestinians — and use wholly different investigative tools.

In this system, even the question of what behavior is being investigated as an act of terror is different for Jews and Arabs. For a Palestinian, the simple admission of identifying with Hamas counts as an act of terrorism that permits Israeli authorities to use severe interrogation methods and long detention. Moreover, most acts of violence by Arabs against Jews are categorized as a “terror” attack — giving Shin Bet and other services license to use the harshest methods at their disposal.

The job of investigating Jewish terrorism falls to a division of Shin Bet called the Department for Counterintelligence and Prevention of Subversion in the Jewish Sector, known more commonly as the Jewish Department. It is dwarfed both in size and prestige by Shin Bet’s Arab Department, the division charged mostly with combating Palestinian terrorism. And in the event, most incidents of settler violence — torching vehicles, cutting down olive groves — fall under the jurisdiction of the police, who tend to ignore them. When the Jewish Department investigates more serious terrorist threats, it is often stymied from the outset, and even its successes have sometimes been undermined by judges and politicians sympathetic to the settler cause. This system, with its gaps and obstructions, allowed the founders of groups advocating extreme violence during the 1970s and 1980s to act without consequences, and today it has built a protective cocoon around their ideological descendants.

Some of these people now run Israel. In 2022, just 18 months after losing the prime ministership, Benjamin Netanyahu regained power by forming an alliance with ultraright leaders of both the Religious Zionism Party and the Jewish Power party. It was an act of political desperation on Netanyahu’s part, and it ushered into power some truly radical figures, people — like Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir — who had spent decades pledging to wrest the West Bank and Gaza from Arab hands . Just two months earlier, according to news reports at the time, Netanyahu refused to share a stage with Ben-Gvir, who had been convicted multiple times for supporting terrorist organizations and, in front of television cameras in 1995, vaguely threatened the life of Rabin, who was murdered weeks later by an Israeli student named Yigal Amir.

Now Ben-Gvir was Israel’s national security minister and Smotrich was Israel’s finance minister, charged additionally with overseeing much of the Israeli government’s activities in the West Bank. In December 2022, a day before the new government was sworn in, Netanyahu issued a list of goals and priorities for his new cabinet, including a clear statement that the nationalistic ideology of his new allies was now the government’s guiding star. “The Jewish people,” it said, “have an exclusive and inalienable right to all parts of the land of Israel.”

Two months after that, two Israeli settlers were murdered in an attack by Hamas gunmen near Huwara, a village in the West Bank. The widespread calls for revenge, common after Palestinian terror attacks, were now coming from within Netanyahu’s new government. Smotrich declared that “the village of Huwara needs to be wiped out.”

And, he added, “I think the State of Israel needs to do it.”

Birth of a Movement

With its overwhelming victory in the Arab-​Israeli War of 1967, Israel more than doubled the amount of land it controlled, seizing new territory in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. Now it faced a choice: Would the new land become part of Israel or be bargained away as part of a future Palestinian state? To a cadre of young Israelis imbued with messianic zeal, the answer was obvious. The acquisition of the territories animated a religious political movement — Gush Emunim, or “Bloc of the Faithful” — that was determined to settle the newly conquered lands.

Gush Emunim followers believed that the coming of the messiah would be hastened if, rather than studying holy books from morning to night, Jews settled the newly occupied territories. This was the land of “Greater Israel,” they believed, and there was a pioneer spirit among the early settlers. They saw themselves as direct descendants of the earliest Zionists, who built farms and kibbutzim near Palestinian villages during the first part of the 20th century, when the land was under British control. But while the Zionism of the earlier period was largely secular and socialist, the new settlers believed they were advancing God’s agenda.

The legality of that agenda was an open question. The Geneva Conventions, to which Israel was a signatory, forbade occupying powers to deport or transfer “parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” But the status of the territory was, in the view of many within and outside the Israeli government, more complex. The settlers sought to create what some of them called “facts on the ground.” This put them into conflict with both the Palestinians and, at least putatively, the Israeli authorities responsible for preventing the spread of illegal settlements.

Whether or not the government would prove flexible on these matters became clear in April 1975 at Ein Yabrud, an abandoned Jordanian military base near Ofra, in the West Bank. A group of workers had been making the short commute from Israel most days for months to work on rebuilding the base, and one evening they decided to stay. They were aiming to establish a Jewish foothold in Judea and Samaria, the Israeli designation for the territories that make up the West Bank, and they had found a back door that required only the slightest push. Their leader met that same night with Shimon Peres, then Israel’s defense minister, who told the I.D.F. to stand down. Peres would treat the nascent settlement not as a community but as a “work camp” — and the I.D.F. would do nothing to hinder their work.

Peres’s maneuver was partly a sign of the weakness of Israel’s ruling Labor party, which had dominated Israeli politics since the country’s founding. The residual trauma of the Yom Kippur War in 1973 — when Israel was caught completely by surprise by Egyptian and Syrian forces before eventually beating back the invading armies — had shaken citizens’ belief in their leaders, and movements like Gush Emunim, directly challenging the authority of the Israeli state, had gained momentum amid Labor’s decline. This, in turn, energized Israel’s political right.

By the late 1970s, the settlers, bolstered in part by growing political support, were expanding in number. Carmi Gillon, who joined Shin Bet in 1972 and rose by the mid-1990s to become its director, recalls the evolving internal debates. Whose responsibility was it to deal with settlers? Should Israel’s vaunted domestic security service enforce the law in the face of clearly illegal acts of settlement? “When we realized that Gush Emunim had the backing of so many politicians, we knew we shouldn’t touch them,” he said in his first interview for this article in 2016.

One leader of the ultraright movement would prove hard to ignore, however. Meir Kahane, an ultraright rabbi from Flatbush, Brooklyn, had founded the militant Jewish Defense League in 1968 in New York. He made no secret of his belief that violence was sometimes necessary to fulfill his dream of Greater Israel, and he even spoke of plans to buy .22 caliber rifles for Jews to defend themselves. “Our campaign motto will be, ‘Every Jew a .22,’” he declared. In 1971, he received a suspended sentence on bomb-making charges, and at the age of 39 he moved to Israel to start a new life. From a hotel on Zion Square in Jerusalem, he started a school and a political party, what would become Kach, and drew followers with his fiery rhetoric.

Kahane said he wanted to rewrite the stereotype of Jews as victims, and he argued, in often vivid terms, that Zionism and democracy are in fundamental tension. “Zionism came into being to create a Jewish state,” Kahane said in an interview with The Times in 1985, five years before he was assassinated by a gunman in New York. “Zionism declares that there is going to be a Jewish state with a majority of Jews, come what may. Democracy says, ‘No, if the Arabs are the majority then they have the right to decide their own fate.’ So Zionism and democracy are at odds. I say clearly that I stand with Zionism.”

A Buried Report

In 1977, the Likud party led a coalition that, for the first time in Israeli history, secured a right-wing majority in the country’s Parliament, the Knesset. The party was headed by Menachem Begin, a veteran of the Irgun, a paramilitary organization that carried out attacks against Arabs and British authorities in Mandatory Palestine, the British colonial entity that preceded the creation of Israel. Likud — Hebrew for “the alliance” — was itself an amalgam of several political parties. Kach itself was still on the outside and would always remain so. But its radical ideas and ambitions were moving closer to the mainstream.

Likud’s victory came 10 years after the war that brought Israel vast amounts of new land, but the issue of what to do with the occupied territories had yet to be resolved. As the new prime minister, Begin knew that addressing that question would mean addressing the settlements. Could there be a legal basis for taking the land? Something that would allow the settlements to expand with the full support of the state?

It was Plia Albeck, then a largely unknown bureaucrat in the Israeli Justice Ministry, who found Begin’s answer. Searching through the regulations of the Ottoman Empire, which ruled Palestine in the years preceding the British Mandate, she lit upon the Ottoman Land Code of 1858, a major effort at land reform. Among other provisions, the law enabled the sultan to seize any land that had not been cultivated by its owners for a number of years and that was not “within shouting distance” of the last house in the village. It did little to address the provisions of the Geneva Convention, but it was, for her department, precedent enough. Soon Albeck was riding in an army helicopter, mapping the West Bank and identifying plots of land that might meet the criteria of the Ottoman law. The Israeli state had replaced the sultan, but the effect was the same. Albeck’s creative legal interpretation led to the creation of more than 100 new Jewish settlements, which she referred to as “my children.”

At the same time, Begin was quietly brokering a peace deal with President Anwar Sadat of Egypt in the United States at Camp David. The pact they eventually negotiated gave the Sinai Peninsula back to Egypt and promised greater autonomy to Palestinians in the occupied territories in return for normalized relations with Israel. It would eventually win the two leaders a joint Nobel Peace Prize. But Gush Emunim and other right-wing groups saw the accords as a shocking reversal. From this well of anger sprang a new campaign of intimidation. Rabbi Moshe Levinger, one of the leaders of Gush Emunim and the founder of the settlement in the heart of Hebron, declared the movement’s purposes on Israeli television. The Arabs, he said, “must not be allowed to raise their heads.”

Leading this effort would be a militarized offshoot of Gush Emunim called the Jewish Underground. The first taste of what was to come arrived on June 2, 1980. Car bombs exploded as part of a complex assassination plot against prominent Palestinian political figures in the West Bank. The attack blew the legs off Bassam Shaka, the mayor of Nablus; Karim Khalaf, the mayor of Ramallah, was forced to have his foot amputated. Kahane, who in the days before the attack said at a news conference that the Israeli government should form a “Jewish terrorist group” that would “throw bombs and grenades to kill Arabs,” applauded the attacks, as did Rabbi Haim Druckman, a leader of Gush Emunim then serving in the Knesset, and many others within and outside the movement. Brig. Gen. Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, then the top I.D.F. commander in the West Bank, noting the injuries suffered by the Palestinian mayors under his watch, said simply, “It’s a shame they didn’t hit them a bit higher.” An investigation began, but it would be years before it achieved any results. Ben-Eliezer went on to become a leader of the Labor party and defense minister.

The threat that the unchecked attacks posed to the institutions and guardrails of Jewish democracy wasn’t lost on some members of the Israeli elite. As the violence spread, a group of professors at Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University in Jerusalem sent a letter to Yitzhak Zamir, Israel’s attorney general. They were concerned, they wrote, that illegal “private policing activity” against the Palestinians living in the occupied territories presented a “threat to the rule of law in the country.” The professors saw possible collusion between the settlers and the authorities. “There is a suspicion that similar crimes are not being handled in the same manner and some criminals are receiving preferential treatment over others,” the signatories to the letter said. “This suspicion requires fundamental examination.”

The letter shook Zamir, who knew some of the professors well. He was also well aware that evidence of selective law enforcement — one law for the Palestinians and another for the settlers — would rebut the Israeli government’s claim that the law was enforced equally and could become both a domestic scandal and an international one. Zamir asked Judith Karp, then Israel’s deputy attorney general for special duties, to lead a committee looking into the issue. Karp was responsible for handling the most delicate issues facing the Justice Ministry, but this would require even greater discretion than usual.

As her team investigated, Karp says, “it very quickly became clear to me that what was described in the letter was nothing compared to the actual reality on the ground.” She and her investigative committee found case after case of trespassing, extortion, assault and murder, even as the military authorities and the police did nothing or performed notional investigations that went nowhere. “The police and the I.D.F. in both action and inaction were really cooperating with the settler vandals,” Karp says. “They operated as if they had no interest in investigating when there were complaints, and generally did everything they could to deter the Palestinians from even submitting them.”

In May 1982, Karp and her committee submitted a 33-page report, determining that dozens of offenses were investigated insufficiently. The committee also noted that, in their research, the police had provided them with information that was incomplete, contradictory and in part false. They concluded that nearly half the investigations opened against settlers were closed without the police conducting even a rudimentary investigation. In the few cases in which they did investigate, the committee found “profound flaws.” In some cases, the police witnessed the crimes and did nothing. In others, soldiers were willing to testify against the settlers, but their testimonies and other evidence were buried.

It soon became clear to Karp that the government was going to bury the report. “We were very naïve,” she now recalls. Zamir had been assured, she says, that the cabinet would discuss the grave findings and had in fact demanded total confidentiality. The minister of the interior at the time, Yosef Burg, invited Karp to his home for what she recalls him describing as “a personal conversation.” Burg, a leader of the pro-settler National Religious Party, had by then served as a government minister in one office or another for more than 30 years. Karp assumed he wanted to learn more about her work, which could in theory have important repercussions for the religious right. “But, to my astonishment,” she says, “he simply began to scold me in harsh language about what we were doing. I understood that he wanted us to drop it.”

Karp announced she was quitting the investigative committee. “The situation we discovered was one of complete helplessness,” she says. When the existence of the report (but not its contents) leaked to the public, Burg denied having ever seen such an investigation. When the full contents of the report were finally made public in 1984, a spokesman for the Justice Ministry said only that the committee had been dissolved and that the ministry was no longer monitoring the problem.

A Wave of Violence

On April 11, 1982, a uniformed I.D.F. soldier named Alan Harry Goodman shot his way into the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem, one of the most sacred sites for Muslims around the world. Carrying an M16 rifle, standard issue in the Israeli Army, he killed two Arabs and wounded many more. When investigators searched Goodman’s apartment, they found fliers for Kach, but a spokesman for the group said that it did not condone the attack. Prime Minister Begin condemned the attack, but he also chastised Islamic leaders calling for a general strike in response, which he saw as an attempt to “exploit the tragedy.”

The next year, masked Jewish Underground terrorists opened fire on students at the Islamic College in Hebron, killing three people and injuring 33 more. Israeli authorities condemned the massacre but were less clear about who would be held to account. Gen. Ori Orr, commander of Israeli forces in the region, said on the radio that all avenues would be pursued. But, he added, “we don’t have any description, and we don’t know who we are looking for.”

The Jewish Department found itself continually behind in its efforts to address the onslaught. In April 1984, it had a major breakthrough: Its agents foiled a Jewish Underground plan to blow up five buses full of Palestinians, and they arrested around two dozen Jewish Underground members who had also played roles in the Islamic College attack and the bombings of the Palestinian mayors in 1980. But only after weeks of interrogating the suspects did Shin Bet learn that the Jewish Underground had been developing a scheme to blow up the Dome of the Rock mosque. The planning involved dozens of intelligence-gathering trips to the Temple Mount and an assessment of the exact amount of explosives that would be needed and where to place them. The goal was nothing less than to drag the entire Middle East into a war, which the Jewish Underground saw as a precondition for the coming of the messiah.

Carmi Gillon, who was head of Shin Bet’s Jewish Department at the time, says the fact that Shin Bet hadn’t learned about a plot involving so many people and such ambitious planning earlier was an “egregious intelligence failure.” And it was not the Shin Bet, he notes, who prevented the plot from coming to fruition. It was the Jewish Underground itself. “Fortunately for all of us, they decided to forgo the plan because they felt the Jewish people were not yet ready.”

“You have to understand why all this is important now,” Ami Ayalon said, leaning in for emphasis. The sun shining into the backyard of the former Shin Bet director was gleaming off his bald scalp, illuminating a face that looked as if it were sculpted by a dull kitchen knife. “We are not discussing Jewish terrorism. We are discussing the failure of Israel.”

Ayalon was protective of his former service, insisting that Shin Bet, despite some failures, usually has the intelligence and resources to deter and prosecute right-wing terrorism in Israel. And, he said, they usually have the will. “The question is why they are not doing anything about it,” he said. “And the answer is very simple. They cannot confront our courts. And the legal community finds it almost impossible to face the political community, which is supported by the street. So everything starts with the street.”

By the early 1980s, the settler movement had begun to gain some traction within the Knesset, but it remained far from the mainstream. When Kahane himself was elected to the Knesset in 1984, the members of the other parties, including Likud, would turn and leave the room when he stood up to deliver speeches. One issue was that the continual expansion of the settlements was becoming an irritant in U.S.-Israel relations. During a 1982 trip by Begin to Washington, the prime minister had a closed-door meeting with the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to discuss Israel’s invasion of Lebanon that year, an effort to force out the P.L.O. that had been heavy with civilian casualties. According to The Times’s coverage of the session, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, then in his second term, had an angry exchange with Begin about the West Bank, telling him that Israel was losing support in this country because of the settlements policy.

But Israeli officials came to understand that the Americans were generally content to vent their anger about the issue without taking more forceful action — like restricting military aid to Israel, which was then, as now, central to the country’s security arrangements. After the Jewish Underground plotters of the bombings targeting the West Bank mayors and other attacks were finally brought to trial in 1984, they were found guilty and given sentences ranging from a few months to life in prison. The plotters showed little remorse, though, and a public campaign swelled to have them pardoned. Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir also made the case for pardoning them, saying they were “excellent, good people who have erred in their path and actions.” Clemency, Shamir suggested, would prevent a recurrence of Jewish terrorism.

In the end, President Chaim Herzog, against the recommendations of Shin Bet and the Justice Ministry, signed an extraordinary series of pardons and commutations for the plotters. They were released and greeted as heroes by the settler community, and some rose to prominent positions in government and the Israeli media. One of them, Uzi Sharbav, now a leader in the settlement movement, was a speaker at a recent conference promoting the return of settlers to Gaza.

In fact, nearly all the Jews involved in terror attacks against Arabs over the past decades have received substantial reductions in prison time. Gillon, the head of the Jewish Department when some of these people were arrested, recalls the “profound sense of injustice” that he felt when they were released. But even more important, he says, was “the question of what message the pardons convey to the public and to anyone who ever thinks about carrying out acts of terror against Arabs.”

Operational Failures

In 1987, a series of conflicts in Gaza led to a sustained Palestinian uprising throughout the occupied territories and Israel. The First Intifada, as it became known, was driven by anger over the occupation, which was then entering its third decade. It would simmer for the next six years, as Palestinians attacked Israelis with stones and Molotov cocktails and launched a series of strikes and boycotts. Israel deployed thousands of soldiers to quell the uprising.

In the occupied territories, reprisal attacks between settlers and Palestinians were an increasing problem. The Gush Emunim movement had spread and fractured into different groups, making it difficult for Shin Bet to embed enough informants with the settlers. But the service had one key informant — a man given the code name Shaul. He was a trusted figure among the settlers and rose to become a close assistant to Rabbi Moshe Levinger, the Gush Emunim leader who founded the settlement in Hebron.

Levinger had been questioned many times under suspicion of having a role in multiple violent attacks, but Shaul told Shin Bet operatives that they were seeing only a fraction of the whole picture. He told them about raids past and planned; about the settlers tearing through Arab villages, vandalizing homes, burning dozens of cars. The operatives ordered him to participate in these raids to strengthen his cover. One newspaper photographer in Hebron in 1985 captured Shaul smashing the wall of an Arab marketplace with a sledgehammer. As was standard policy, Shin Bet had ordered him to participate in any activity that didn’t involve harm to human life, but figuring out which of the activities wouldn’t cross that line became increasingly difficult. “The majority of the activists were lunatics, riffraff, and it was very difficult to be sure they wouldn’t hurt people and would harm only property,” Shaul said. (Shaul, whose true identity remains secret, provided these quotes in a 2015 interview with Bergman for the Israeli Hebrew-language paper Yedioth Ahronoth. Some of his account is published here for the first time.)

In September 1988, Rabbi Levinger, Shaul’s patron, was driving through Hebron when, he later said in court, Palestinians began throwing stones at his car and surrounding him. Levinger flashed a pistol and began firing wildly at nearby shops. Investigators said he killed a 42-year-old shopkeeper, Khayed Salah, who had been closing the steel shutter of his shoe store, and injured a second man. Levinger claimed self-defense, but he was hardly remorseful. “I know that I am innocent,” he said at the trial, “and that I didn’t have the honor of killing the Arab.”

Prosecutors cut a deal with Levinger. He was convicted of criminally negligent homicide, sentenced to five months in prison and released after only three.

Shin Bet faced the classic intelligence agency’s dilemma: how and when to let its informants participate in the very violent acts the service was supposed to be stopping. There was some logic in Shin Bet’s approach with Shaul, but it certainly didn’t help deter acts of terror in the West Bank, especially with little police presence in the occupied territories and a powerful interest group ensuring that whoever was charged for the violence was released with a light sentence.

Over his many years as a Shin Bet mole, Shaul said, he saw numerous intelligence and operational failures by the agency. One of the worst, he said, was the December 1993 murder of three Palestinians in an act of vengeance after the murder of a settler leader and his son. Driving home from a day of work in Israel, the three Palestinians, who had no connection to the deaths of the settlers, were pulled from their car and killed near the West Bank town Tarqumiyah.

Shaul recalled how one settler activist proudly told him that he and two friends committed the murders. He contacted his Shin Bet handlers to tell them what he had heard. “And suddenly I saw they were losing interest,” Shaul said. It was only later that he learned why: Two of the shooters were Shin Bet informants. The service didn’t want to blow their cover, or worse, to suffer the scandal that two of its operatives were involved in a murder and a cover-up.

In a statement, Shin Bet said that Shaul’s version of events is “rife with incorrect details” but refused to specify which details were incorrect. Neither the state prosecutor nor the attorney general responded to requests for comment, which included Shaul’s full version of events and additional evidence gathered over the years.

Shaul said he also gave numerous reports to his handlers about the activities of yet another Brooklyn-born follower of Meir Kahane and the Jewish Defense League: Dr. Baruch Goldstein. He earned his medical degree at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and in 1983 immigrated to Israel, where he worked first as a physician in the I.D.F., then as an emergency doctor at Kiryat Arba, a settlement near Hebron.

In the years that passed, he gained the attention of Shin Bet with his eliminationist views, calling Arabs “latter-day Nazis” and making a point to visit the Jewish terrorist Ami Popper in prison, where he was serving a sentence for the 1990 murder of seven Palestinians in the Tel Aviv suburb Rishon LeZion. Shaul said he regarded Goldstein at the time as a “charismatic and highly dangerous figure” and repeatedly urged the Shin Bet to monitor him. “They told me it was none of my business,” he said.

‘Clean Hands’

On Feb. 24, 1994, Goldstein abruptly fired his personal driver. According to Shaul, Goldstein told the driver that he knew he was a Shin Bet informer. Terrified at having been found out, the driver fled the West Bank immediately. Now Goldstein was moving unobserved.

That evening marked the beginning of Purim, the festive commemoration of the victory of the Jews over Haman the Agagite, a court official in the Persian Empire and the nemesis of the Jews in the Old Testament’s Book of Esther. Right-wing Israelis have often drawn parallels between Haman and Arabs — enemies who seek the annihilation of Jews. Goldstein woke early the next day and put on his I.D.F. uniform, and at 5:20 a.m. he entered the Cave of the Patriarchs, an ancient complex in Hebron that serves as a place of worship for both Jews and Muslims. Goldstein carried with him his I.D.F.-issued Galil rifle. It was also the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and on that morning hundreds of Muslims crowded the hall in prayer. Goldstein faced the worshipers and began shooting , firing 108 rounds before he was dragged down and beaten to death. The massacre killed 29 Muslim worshipers and injured more than 100.

The killings shocked Israel, and the government responded with a crackdown on extremism. Kach and Kahane Chai, the two political organizations most closely affiliated with the Kahanist movement, were outlawed and labeled terrorist groups, as was any other party that called for “the establishment of a theocracy in the biblical Land of Israel and the violent expulsion of Arabs from that land.” Rabin, in an address to the Knesset, spoke directly to the followers of Goldstein and Kahane, who he said were the product of a malicious foreign influence on Israel. “You are not part of the community of Israel,” he said. “You are not partners in the Zionist enterprise. You are a foreign implant. You are an errant weed. Sensible Judaism spits you out. You placed yourself outside the wall of Jewish law.”

Following the massacre, a state commission of inquiry was appointed, headed by Judge Meir Shamgar, the president of the Supreme Court. The commission’s report, made public in June 1994, strongly criticized the security arrangements at the Cave of the Patriarchs and examined law-enforcement practices regarding settlers and the extreme right in general. A secret appendix to the report, containing material deemed too sensitive for public consumption, included a December 1992 letter from the Israeli commissioner of police, essentially admitting that the police could not enforce the law. “The situation in the districts is extremely bleak,” he wrote, using the administrative nomenclature for the occupied territories. “The ability of the police to function is far from the required minimum. This is as a result of the lack of essential resources.”

In its conclusions, the commission, tracing the lines of the previous decade’s Karp report, confirmed claims that human rights organizations had made for years but that had been ignored by the Israeli establishment. The commission found that Israeli law enforcement was “ineffective in handling complaints,” that it delayed the filing of indictments and that restraining orders against “chronic” criminals among the “hard core” of the settlers were rarely issued.

The I.D.F. refused to allow Goldstein to be buried in the Jewish cemetery in Hebron. He was buried instead in the Kiryat Arba settlement, in a park named for Meir Kahane, and his gravesite has become an enduring place of pilgrimage for Jews who wanted to celebrate, as his epitaph reads, the “saint” who died for Israel with “clean hands and a pure heart.”

A Curse of Death

One ultranationalist settler who went regularly to Goldstein’s grave was a teenage radical named Itamar Ben-Gvir, who would sometimes gather other followers there on Purim to celebrate the slain killer. Purim revelers often dress in costume, and on one such occasion, caught on video, Ben-Gvir even wore a Goldstein costume, complete with a fake beard and a stethoscope. By then, Ben-Gvir had already come to the attention of the Jewish Department, and investigators interrogated him several times. The military declined to enlist him into the service expected of most Israeli citizens.

After the massacre at the Cave of the Patriarchs, a new generation of Kahanists directed their anger squarely at Rabin for his signing of the Oslo agreement and for depriving them, in their view, of their birthright. “From my standpoint, Goldstein’s action was a wake-up call,” says Hezi Kalo, a longtime senior Shin Bet official who oversaw the division that included the Jewish Department at that time. “I realized that this was going to be a very big story, that the diplomatic moves by the Rabin government would simply not pass by without the shedding of blood.”

The government of Israel was finally paying attention to the threat, and parts of the government acted to deal with it. Shin Bet increased the size of the Jewish Department, and it began to issue a new kind of warning: Jewish terrorists no longer threatened only Arabs. They threatened Jews.

The warnings noted that rabbis in West Bank settlements, along with some politicians on the right, were now openly advocating violence against Israeli public officials, especially Rabin. Extremist rabbis issued rulings of Jewish law against Rabin — imposing a curse of death, a Pulsa Dinura , and providing justification for killing him, a din rodef .

Carmi Gillon by then had moved on from running the Jewish Department and now had the top job at Shin Bet. “Discussing and acknowledging such halakhic laws was tantamount to a license to kill,” he says now, looking back. He was particularly concerned about Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon, who were stoking the fury of the right-wing rabbis and settler leaders in their battles with Rabin.

Shin Bet wanted to prosecute rabbis who approved the religiously motivated death sentences against Rabin, but the state attorney’s office refused. “They didn’t give enough importance back then to the link between incitement and legitimacy for terrorism,” says one former prosecutor who worked in the state attorney’s office in the mid-1990s.

Shin Bet issued warning after warning in 1995. “This was no longer a matter of mere incitement, but rather concrete information on the intention to kill top political figures, including Rabin,” Kalo now recalls. In October of that year, Ben-Gvir spoke to Israeli television cameras holding up a Cadillac hood ornament, which he boasted he had broken off the prime minister’s official car during chaotic anti-Oslo demonstrations in front of the Knesset. “We got to his car,” he said, “and we’ll get to him, too.” The following month, Rabin was dead.


Yigal Amir, the man who shot and killed Rabin in Tel Aviv after a rally in support of the Oslo Accords on Nov. 4, 1995, was not unknown to the Jewish Department. A 25-year-old studying law, computer science and the Torah at Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv, he had been radicalized by Rabin’s efforts to make peace with Palestinian leaders and had connections to Avishai Raviv, the leader of Eyal, a new far-right group loosely affiliated with the Kach movement. In fact, Raviv was a Shin Bet informant, code-named Champagne. He had heard Amir talking about the justice of the din rodef judgments, but he did not identify him to his handlers as an immediate danger. “No one took Yigal seriously,” he said later in a court proceeding. “It’s common in our circles to talk about attacking public figures.”

Lior Akerman was the first Shin Bet investigator to interrogate Amir at the detention center where he was being held after the assassination. There was of course no question about his guilt. But there was the broader question of conspiracy. Did Amir have accomplices? Did they have further plans? Akerman now recalls asking Amir how he could reconcile his belief in God with his decision to murder the prime minister of Israel. Amir, he says, told him that rabbis had justified harming the prime minister in order to protect Israel.

Amir was smug, Akerman recalls, and he did not respond directly to the question of accomplices. “‘Listen,” he said, according to Akerman, “I succeeded . I was able to do something that many people wanted but no one dared to do. I fired a gun that many Jews held, but I squeezed the trigger because no one else had the courage to do it.”

The Shin Bet investigators demanded to know the identities of the rabbis. Amir was coy at first, but eventually the interrogators drew enough out of him to identify at least two of them. Kalo, the head of the division that oversaw the Jewish Department, went to the attorney general to argue that the rabbis should be detained immediately and prosecuted for incitement to murder. But the attorney general disagreed, saying the rabbis’ encouragement was protected speech and couldn’t be directly linked to the murder. No rabbis were arrested.

Days later, however, the police brought Raviv — the Shin Bet operative known as Champagne — into custody in a Tel Aviv Magistrate Court, on charges that he had conspired to kill Rabin, but he was released shortly after. Raviv’s role as an informant later came to light, and in 1999, he was arrested for his failure to act on previous knowledge of the assassination. He was acquitted on all charges, but he has since become a fixture of extremist conspiracy theories that pose his failure to ring the alarm as evidence that the murder of the prime minister was due not to the violent rhetoric of the settler right, or the death sentences from the rabbis, or the incitement by the leaders of the opposition, but to the all-too-successful efforts of a Shin Bet agent provocateur. A more complicated and insidious conspiracy theory, but no less false, was that it was Shin Bet itself that assassinated Rabin or allowed the assassination to happen.

Gillon, the head of the service at the time, resigned, and ongoing inquiries, charges and countercharges would continue for years. Until Oct. 7, 2023, the killing of the prime minister was considered the greatest failure in the history of Shin Bet. Kalo tried to sum up what went wrong with Israeli security. “The only answer my friends and I could give for the failure was complacency,” he wrote in his 2021 memoir. “They simply couldn’t believe that such a thing could happen, definitely not at the hands of another Jew.”

The Sasson Report

In 2001, as the Second Intifada unleashed a wave of Palestinian suicide bombings against Israeli civilians, Ariel Sharon took office as prime minister. The struggling peace process had come to a complete halt amid the violence, and Sharon’s rise at first appeared to mark another victory for the settlers. But in 2003, in one of the more surprising reversals in Israeli political history, Sharon announced what he called Israel’s “disengagement” from Gaza, with a plan to remove settlers — forcibly if necessary — over the next two years.

The motivations were complex and the subject of considerable debate. For Sharon, at least, it appeared to be a tactical move. “The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process,” his senior adviser Dov Weisglass told Haaretz at the time. “And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.” But Sharon was also facing considerable pressure from President George W. Bush to do something about the ever-expanding illegal settlements in the West Bank, which were a growing impediment to any regional security deals. In July 2004, he asked Talia Sasson, who had recently retired as the head of the special tasks division in the state attorney’s office, to draw up a legal opinion on the subject of “unauthorized outposts” in the West Bank. His instructions were clear: Investigate which Israeli government agencies and authorities were secretly involved in building the outposts. “Sharon never interfered in my work, and neither was he surprised by the conclusions,” Sasson said in an interview two decades later. “After all, he knew better than anyone what the situation was on the ground, and he was expecting only grave conclusions.”

It was a simple enough question: Just how had it happened that hundreds of outposts had been built in the decade since Yitzhak Rabin ordered a halt in most new settlements? But Sasson’s effort to find an answer was met with delays, avoidance and outright lies. Her final report used careful but pointed language: “Not everyone I turned to agreed to talk with me. One claimed he was too busy to meet, while another came to the meeting but refused to meaningfully engage with most of my questions.”

Sasson found that between January 2000 and June 2003, a division of Israel’s Construction and Housing Ministry issued 77 contracts for the establishment of 33 sites in the West Bank, all of which were illegal. In some cases, the ministry even paid for the paving of roads and the construction of buildings at settlements for which the Defense Ministry had issued demolition orders.

Several government ministries concealed the fact that funds were being diverted to the West Bank, reporting them under budgetary clauses such as “miscellaneous general development.” Just as in the case of the Karp Report two decades earlier, Sasson and her Justice Ministry colleagues discovered that the West Bank was being administered under completely separate laws, and those laws, she says, “appeared to me utterly insane.”

Sasson’s report took special note of Avi Maoz, who ran the Construction and Housing Ministry during most of this period. A political activist who early in his career spoke openly of pushing all Arabs out of the West Bank, Maoz helped found a settlement south of Jerusalem during the 1990s and began building a professional alliance with Benjamin Netanyahu, who was then the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations and would soon go on to his first term as prime minister. Years later, Maoz would be instrumental in ensuring Netanyahu’s political survival.

“The picture that emerges in the eye of the beholder is severe,” Sasson wrote in her report. “Instead of the government of Israel deciding on the establishment of settlements in the territories of Judea and Samaria, its place has been taken, from the mid-1990s and onward, by others.” The settlers, she wrote, were “the moving force,” but they could not have succeeded without the assistance of “various ministers of construction and housing in the relevant periods, some of them with a blind eye, and some of them with support and encouragement.”

This clandestine network was operating, Sasson wrote, “with massive funding from the State of Israel, without appropriate public transparency, without obligatory criteria. The erection of the unauthorized outposts is being done with violation of the proper procedures and general administrative rules, and in particular, flagrant and ongoing violation of the law.” These violations, Sasson warned, were coming from the government: “It was state and public agencies that broke the law, the rules, the procedures that the state itself had determined.” It was a conflict, she argued, that effectively neutered Israel’s internal checks and balances and posed a grave threat to the nation’s integrity. “The law-enforcement agencies are unable to act against government departments that are themselves breaking the law.”

But, in an echo of Judith Karp’s secret report decades earlier, the Sasson Report, made publicly available in March 2005, had almost no impact. Because she had a mandate directly from the prime minister, Sasson could have believed that her investigation might lead to the dismantling of the illegal outposts that had metastasized throughout the Palestinian territories. But even Sharon, with his high office, found himself powerless against the machine now in place to protect and expand the settlements in the West Bank — the very machine he had helped to build.

All of this was against the backdrop of the Gaza pullout. Sharon, who began overseeing the removal of settlements from Gaza in August 2005, was the third Israeli prime minister to threaten the settler dream of a Greater Israel, and the effort drew bitter opposition not only from the settlers but also from a growing part of the political establishment. Netanyahu, who had served his first term as prime minister from 1996 to 1999, and who previously voted in favor of a pullout, resigned his position as finance minister in Sharon’s cabinet in protest — and in anticipation of another run for the top job.

The settlers themselves took more active measures. In 2005, the Jewish Department of Shin Bet received intelligence about a plot to slow the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza by using 700 liters of gasoline to blow up vehicles on a major highway. Acting on the tip, officers arrested six men in central Israel. One of them was Bezalel Smotrich, the future minister overseeing civilian affairs in the West Bank.

Smotrich, then 25, was detained and questioned for weeks. Yitzhak Ilan, one of the Shin Bet officers present at the interrogation, says he remained “silent as a fish” throughout — “like an experienced criminal.” He was released without charges, Ilan says, in part because Shin Bet knew putting him on trial might expose the service’s agents inside Jewish extremist groups, and in part because they believed Smotrich was likely to receive little punishment in any case. Shin Bet was very comfortable with the courts when we fought Palestinian terrorism and we got the heavy punishments we wanted, he says. With the Jewish terrorists it was exactly the opposite.

When Netanyahu made his triumphant return as prime minister in 2009, he set out to undermine Talia Sasson’s report, which he and his allies saw as an obstacle to accelerating the settlement campaign. He appointed his own investigative committee, led by Judge Edmond Levy of the Supreme Court, who was known to support the settler cause. But the Levy report, completed in 2012, did not undermine the findings in the Sasson Report — in some ways, it reinforced them. Senior Israeli officials, the committee found, were fully aware of what was happening in the territories, and they were simply denying it for the sake of political expediency. The behavior, they wrote, was not befitting of “a country that has proclaimed the rule of law as a goal.” Netanyahu moved on.


The ascent of a far-right prime minister did little to prevent the virulent, anti-government strain inside the settler movement from spreading. A new generation of Kahanists was taking an even more radical turn, not only against Israeli politicians who might oppose or insufficiently abet them but against the very notion of a democratic Israeli state. A group calling itself Hilltop Youth advocated for the total destruction of the Zionist state. Meir Ettinger, named for his grandfather Meir Kahane, was one of the Hilltop Youth leaders, and he made his grandfather’s views seem moderate.

Their objective was to tear down Israel’s institutions and to establish “Jewish rule”: anointing a king, building a temple in place of the Jerusalem mosques sacred to Muslims worldwide, imposing a religious regime on all Jews. Ehud Olmert, who served as Israeli prime minister from 2006 to 2009, said in an interview that Hilltop Youth “genuinely, deeply, emotionally believe that this is the right thing to do for Israel. This is a salvation. This is the guarantee for Israel’s future.”

A former member of Hilltop Youth, who has asked to remain anonymous because she fears speaking out could endanger her, recalls how she and her friends used an illegal outpost on a hilltop in the West Bank as a base to lob stones at Palestinian cars. “The Palestinians would call the police, and we would know that we have at least 30 minutes before they arrive, if they arrive. And if they do arrive, they won’t arrest anyone. We did this tens of times.” The West Bank police, she says, couldn’t have been less interested in investigating the violence. “When I was young, I thought that I was outsmarting the police because I was clever. Later, I found out that they are either not trying or very stupid.”

The former Hilltop Youth member says she began pulling away from the group as their tactics became more extreme and once Ettinger began speaking openly about murdering Palestinians. She offered to become a police informant, and during a meeting with police intelligence officers in 2015, she described the group’s plans to commit murder — and to harm any Jews that stood in their way. By her account, she told the police about efforts to scout the homes of Palestinians before settling on a target. The police could have begun an investigation, she says, but they weren’t even curious enough to ask her the names of the people plotting the attack.

In 2013, Ettinger and other members of Hilltop Youth formed a secret cell calling itself the Revolt, designed to instigate an insurrection against a government that “prevents us from building the temple, which blocks our way to true and complete redemption.”

During a search of one of the group’s safe houses, Shin Bet investigators discovered the Revolt’s founding documents. “The State of Israel has no right to exist, and therefore we are not bound by the rules of the game,” one declared. The documents called for an end to the State of Israel and made it clear that in the new state that would rise in its place, there would be absolutely no room for non-Jews and for Arabs in particular: “If those non-Jews don’t leave, it will be permissible to kill them, without distinguishing between women, men and children.”

This wasn’t just idle talk. Ettinger and his comrades organized a plan that included timetables and steps to be taken at each stage. One member even composed a training manual with instructions on how to form terror cells and burn down houses. “In order to prevent the residents from escaping,” the manual advised, “you can leave burning tires in the entrance to the house.”

The Revolt carried out an early attack in February 2014, firebombing an uninhabited home in a small Arab village in the West Bank called Silwad, and followed with more arson attacks, the uprooting of olive groves and the destruction of Palestinian granaries. Members of the group torched mosques, monasteries and churches, including the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. A police officer spotted Ettinger himself attacking a herd of sheep belonging to an Arab shepherd. He stoned a sheep and then slaughtered it in front of the shepherd, the officer later testified. “It was shocking,” he said. “There was a sort of insanity in it.”

Shin Bet defined the Revolt as an organization that aimed “to undermine the stability of the State of Israel through terror and violence, including bodily harm and bloodshed,” according to an internal Shin Bet memo, and sought to place several of its members, including Ettinger, under administrative detention — a measure applied frequently against Arabs.

The state attorney, however, did not approve the request. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) documented 323 incidents of violence by settlers against Palestinians in 2014; Palestinians were injured in 107 of these incidents. By the following year, the Revolt escalated the violence by openly advocating the murder of Arabs.

The Shin Bet and the police identified one of the prominent members of the Revolt, Amiram Ben-Uliel, making him a target of surveillance. But the service failed to prevent the wave of violence that he unleashed. On the night of July 31, 2015, Ben-Uliel set out on a killing spree in a central West Bank village called Duma. Ben-Uliel prepared a bag with two bottles of incendiary liquid, rags, a lighter, a box of matches, gloves and black spray paint. According to the indictment against him, Ben-Uliel sought a home with clear signs of life to ensure that the house he torched was not abandoned. He eventually found the home of Reham and Sa’ad Dawabsheh, a young mother and father. He opened a window and threw a Molotov cocktail into the home. He fled, and in the blaze that followed, the parents suffered injuries that eventually killed them. Their older son, Ahmad, survived the attack, but their 18-month-old toddler, Ali, was burned to death.

It was always clear, says Akerman, the former Shin Bet official, “that those wild groups would move from bullying Arabs to damaging property and trees and eventually would murder people.” He is still furious about how the service has handled Jewish terrorism. “Shin Bet knows how to deal with such groups, using emergency orders, administrative detention and special methods in interrogation until they break,” he says. But although it was perfectly willing to apply those methods to investigating Arab terrorism, the service was more restrained when it came to Jews. “It allowed them to incite, and then they moved on to the next stage and began to torch mosques and churches. Still undeterred, they entered Duma and burned a family.”

Shin Bet at first claimed to have difficulty locating the killers, even though they were all supposed to be under constant surveillance. When Ben-Uliel and other perpetrators were finally arrested, right-wing politicians gave fiery speeches against Shin Bet and met with the families of the perpetrators to show their support. Ben-Uliel was sentenced to life in prison, and Ettinger was finally put in administrative detention, but a fracture was spreading. In December 2015, Hilltop Youth members circulated a video clip showing members of the Revolt ecstatically dancing with rifles and pistols, belting out songs of hatred for Arabs, with one of them stabbing and burning a photograph of the murdered toddler, Ali Dawabsheh. Netanyahu, for his part, denounced the video, which, he said, exposed “the real face of a group that poses danger to Israeli society and security.”

American Friends

The expansion of the settlements had long been an irritant in Israel’s relationship with the United States, with American officials spending years dutifully warning Netanyahu both in public and in private meetings about his support for the enterprise. But the election of Donald Trump in 2016 ended all that. His new administration’s Israel policy was led mostly by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who had a long personal relationship with Netanyahu, a friend of his father’s who had stayed at their family home in New Jersey. Trump, in a broader regional agenda that lined up perfectly with Netanyahu’s own plans, also hoped to scuttle the nuclear deal with Iran that Barack Obama had negotiated and broker diplomatic pacts between Israel and Arab nations that left the matter of a Palestinian state unresolved and off the table.

If there were any questions about the new administration’s position on settlements, they were answered once Trump picked his ambassador to Israel. His choice, David Friedman, was a bankruptcy lawyer who for years had helped run an American nonprofit that raised millions of dollars for Beit El, one of the early Gush Emunim settlements in the West Bank and the place where Bezalel Smotrich was raised and educated. The organization, which was also supported by the Trump family, had helped fund schools and other institutions inside Beit El. On the heels of the Trump transition, Friedman referred to Israel’s “alleged occupation” of Palestinian territories and broke with longstanding U.S. policy by saying “the settlements are part of Israel.”

This didn’t make Friedman a particularly friendly recipient of the warnings regularly delivered by Lt. Gen. Mark Schwartz, the three-star general who in 2019 arrived at the embassy in Jerusalem to coordinate security between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority. A career Green Beret who had combat deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq and served as deputy commander of the Joint Special Operations Command, the military task force with authority over U.S. counterterrorism special missions units, Schwartz wasn’t short on Middle East experience.

But he was immediately shocked by the landscape of the West Bank: settlers acting with impunity, a police force that was essentially nonexistent outside the settlements and the Israeli Army fanning the tensions with its own operations. Schwartz recalls how angry he was about what he called the army’s “collective punishment” tactics, including the razing of Palestinian homes, which he viewed as gratuitous and counterproductive. “I said, ‘Guys, this isn’t how professional militaries act.’” As Schwartz saw it, the West Bank was in some ways the American South of the 1960s. But at any moment the situation could become even more volatile, resulting in the next intifada.

Schwartz is diplomatic when recalling his interactions with Friedman, his former boss. He was a “good listener,” Schwartz says, but when he raised concerns about the settlements, Friedman would often deflect by noting “the lack of appreciation by the Palestinian people about what the Americans are doing for them.” Schwartz also discussed his concerns about settler violence directly with Shin Bet and I.D.F. officials, he says, but as far as he could tell, Friedman didn’t follow up with the political leadership. “I never got the sense he went to Netanyahu to discuss it.”

Friedman sees things differently. “I think I had a far broader perspective on acts of violence in Judea and Samaria” than Schwartz, he says now. “And it was clear that the violence coming from Palestinians against Israelis overwhelmingly was more prevalent.” He says he “wasn’t concerned about ‘appreciation’ from the Palestinians; I was concerned by their leadership’s embrace of terror and unwillingness to control violence.” He declined to discuss any conversations he had with Israeli officials.

Weeks after Trump lost the 2020 election, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Israel for a trip that delivered a number of gifts to Netanyahu and the settler cause. He announced new guidelines requiring that goods imported to the United States from parts of the West Bank be labeled “Made in Israel.” And he flew by helicopter to Psagot, a winery in the West Bank, making him the first American secretary of state to visit a settlement. One of the winery’s large shareholders, the Florida-based Falic family, have donated millions to various projects in the settlements.

During his lunchtime visit, Pompeo paused to write a note in the winery’s guest book. “May I not be the last secretary of state to visit this beautiful land,” he wrote.

A Settler Coalition

Benjamin Netanyahu’s determination to become prime minister for an unprecedented sixth term came with a price: an alliance with a movement that he once shunned, but that had been brought into the political mainstream by Israel’s steady drift to the right. Netanyahu, who is now on trial for bribery and other corruption charges, repeatedly failed in his attempts to form a coalition after most of the parties announced that they were no longer willing to join him. He personally involved himself in negotiations to ally Itamar Ben-Gvir’s Jewish Power party and Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionism Party, making them kingmakers for anyone trying to form a coalition government. In November 2022, the bet paid off: With the now-critical support of the extreme right, Netanyahu returned to office.

The two men ushered into power by this arrangement were some of the most extreme figures ever to hold such high positions in an Israeli cabinet. Shin Bet had monitored Ben-Gvir in the years after Yitzhak Rabin’s murder, and he was arrested on multiple charges including inciting racism and supporting a terrorist organization. He won acquittals or dismissals in some of the cases, but he was also convicted several times and served time in prison. During the Second Intifada, he led protests calling for extreme measures against Arabs and harassed Israeli politicians he believed were insufficiently hawkish.

Then Ben-Gvir made a radical change: He went to law school. He also took a job as an aide to Michael Ben-Ari, a Knesset member from the National Union party, which had picked up many followers of the Kach movement. In 2011, after considerable legal wrangling around his criminal record, he was admitted to the bar. He changed his hairstyle and clothing to appear more mainstream and began working from the inside, once saying he represented the “soldiers and civilians who find themselves in legal entanglements due to the security situation in Israel.” Netanyahu made him minister of national security, with authority over the police.

Smotrich also moved into public life after his 2005 arrest by Shin Bet for plotting road blockages to halt the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. He made Shin Bet’s Jewish Department a frequent target of criticism, complaining that it was wasting time and money investigating crimes carried out by Jews, when the real terrorists were Palestinians. His ultraright allies sometimes referred to the Jewish Department as Hamakhlaka Hayehudit — the Hebrew phrase for the Gestapo unit that executed Hitler’s Final Solution.

In 2015, while campaigning for a seat in the Knesset, Smotrich said that “every shekel invested in this department is one less shekel invested in real terrorism and saving lives.” Seven years later, Netanyahu made him both minister of finance and a minister in the Ministry of Defense, in charge of overseeing civilian affairs in the West Bank, and he has steadily pushed to seize authority over the territory from the military. As part of the coalition deal with Netanyahu, Smotrich now has the authority to appoint one of the senior administrative figures in the West Bank, who helps oversee the building of roads and the enforcement of construction laws. The 2022 election also brought Avi Maoz to the Knesset — the former housing-ministry official whom Talia Sasson once marked as a hidden hand of Israeli government support for illegal settlements. Since then, Maoz had joined the far-right Noam party, using it as a platform to advance racist and homophobic policies. And he never forgot, or forgave, Sasson. On “International Anti-Corruption Day” in 2022, Maoz took to the lectern of the Knesset and denounced Sasson’s report of nearly two decades earlier, saying it was written “with a hatred of the settlements and a desire to harm them.” This, he said, was “public corruption of the highest order, for which people like Talia Sasson should be prosecuted.”

Days after assuming his own new position, Ben-Gvir ordered the police to remove Palestinian flags from public spaces in Israel, saying they “incite and encourage terrorism.” Smotrich, for his part, ordered drastic cuts in payments to the Palestinian Authority — a move that led the Shin Bet and the I.D.F. intelligence division to raise concerns that the cuts would interfere with the Palestinian Authority’s own efforts to police and prevent Palestinian terrorism.

Weeks after the new cabinet was sworn in, the Judea and Samaria division of the I.D.F. distributed an instructional video to the soldiers of a ground unit about to be deployed in the West Bank. Titled “Operational Challenge: The Farms,” the video depicts settlers as peaceful farmers living pastoral lives, feeding goats and herding sheep and cows, in dangerous circumstances. The illegal outposts multiplying around the West Bank are “small and isolated places of settlement, each with a handful of residents, a few of them — or none at all — bearing arms, the means of defense meager or nonexistent.”

It is the settlers, according to the video, who are under constant threat of attack, whether it be “penetration of the farm by a terrorist, an attack against a shepherd in the pastures, arson” or “destruction of property” — threats from which the soldiers of the I.D.F. must protect them. The commander of each army company guarding each farm must, the video says, “link up with the person in charge of security and to maintain communications”; soldiers and officers are encouraged to cultivate a close and intimate relationship with the settlers. “The informal,” viewers are told, “is much more important than the formal.”

The video addresses many matters of security, but it never addresses the question of law. When we asked the commander of the division that produced the video, Brig. Gen. Avi Bluth, why the I.D.F. was promoting the military support of settlements that are illegal under Israeli law, he directly asserted that the farms were indeed legal and offered to arrange for us to tour some of them. Later, a spokesman for the army apologized for the general’s remarks, acknowledged that the farms were illegal and announced that the I.D.F. would no longer be promoting the video. This May, Bluth was nonetheless subsequently promoted to head Israel’s Central Command, responsible for all Israeli troops in central Israel and the West Bank.

In August, Bluth will replace Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox, who during his final months in charge of the West Bank has seen a near-total breakdown of law enforcement in his area of command. In late October, Fox wrote a letter to his boss, the chief of Israel’s military staff, saying that the surge of Jewish terrorism carried out in revenge for the Oct. 7 attacks “could set the West Bank on fire.” The I.D.F. is the highest security authority in the West Bank, but the military’s top commander put the blame squarely on the police — who ultimately answer to Ben-Gvir. Fox said he had established a special task force to deal with Jewish terrorism, but investigating and arresting the perpetrators is “entirely in the hands of the Israeli police.”

And, he wrote, they aren’t doing their jobs.

‘Only One Way Forward’

When the day came early this January for the Supreme Court to hear the case brought by the people of Khirbet Zanuta, the displaced villagers arrived an hour late. They had received entry permits from the District Coordination Office to attend the hearing but were delayed by security forces before reaching the checkpoint separating Israel from the West Bank. Their lawyer, Quamar Mishirqi-Assad, noting that their struggle to attend their own hearing spoke to the essence of their petition, insisted that the hearing couldn’t proceed without them. The judges agreed to wait.

The villagers finally were led into the courtroom, and Mishirqi-Assad began presenting the case. The proceedings were in Hebrew, so most of the villagers were unable to follow the arguments that described the daily terrors inflicted by settlers and the glaring absence of any law-enforcement efforts to stop them.

The lawyers representing the military and the police denied the claims of abuse and failure to enforce the law. When a judge asked what operational steps would be in place if villagers wanted to return, one of the lawyers for the state said they could already — there was no order preventing them from doing so.

The next to speak was Col. Roi Zweig-Lavi, the Central Command’s Operations Directorate officer. He said that many of these incidents involved false claims. In fact, he said, some of the villagers had probably destroyed their own homes, because of an “internal issue.” Now they were blaming the settlers to escape the consequences of their own actions.

Colonel Zweig-Lavi’s own views about the settlements, and his role in protecting them, were well known. In a 2022 speech, he told a group of yeshiva students in the West Bank that “the army and the settlements are one and the same.”

In early May, the court ordered the state to explain why the police failed to stop the attacks and declared that the villagers have a right to return to their homes. The court also ordered the state to provide details for how they would ensure the safe return of the villagers. It is now the state’s turn to decide how it will comply. Or if it will comply.

By the time the Supreme Court issued its rulings, the United States had finally taken action to directly pressure the Netanyahu government about the violent settlers. On Feb. 1, the White House issued an executive order imposing sanctions on four settlers for “engaging in terrorist activity,” among other things, in the West Bank. One of the four was Yinon Levi, the owner of Meitarim Farm near Hebron and the man American and Israeli officials believe orchestrated the campaign of violence and intimidation against the villagers of Khirbet Zanuta. The British government issued its own sanctions shortly after, saying in a statement that Israel’s government had created “an environment of near-total impunity for settler extremists in the West Bank.”

The White House’s move against individual settlers, a first by an American administration, was met with a combination of anger and ridicule by ministers in Netanyahu’s government. Smotrich called the Biden administration’s allegations against Levi and others “utterly specious” and said he would work with Israeli banks to resist complying with the sanctions. One message that circulated in an open Hilltop Youth WhatsApp channel said that Levi and his family would not be abandoned. “The people of Israel are mobilizing for them,” it said.

American officials bristle when confronted with the question of whether the government’s actions are just token measures taken by an embattled American president hemorrhaging support at home for his Israel policy. They won’t end the violence, they say, but they are a signal to the Netanyahu government about the position of the United States: that the West Bank could boil over, and it could soon be the latest front of an expanding regional Middle East war since Oct. 7.

But war might just be the goal. Ehud Olmert, the former Israeli prime minister, said he believes that many members of the ultraright in Israel “want war.” They “want intifada,” he says, “because it is the ultimate proof that there is no way of making peace with the Palestinians and there is only one way forward — to destroy them.”

Additional reporting by Natan Odenheimer.

Top photograph: A member of a group known as Hilltop Youth, which seeks to tear down Israel’s institutions and establish ‘‘Jewish rule.’’ Photograph by Peter van Agtmael/Magnum, for The New York Times.

Read by Jonathan Davis

Narration produced by Anna Diamond

Engineered by David Mason

Peter van Agtmael is a Magnum photographer who has been covering Israel and Palestinian territories since 2012. He is a mentor in the Arab Documentary Photography Program.

Ronen Bergman is a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine, based in Tel Aviv. His latest book is “Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations,” published by Random House. More about Ronen Bergman

Mark Mazzetti is an investigative reporter based in Washington, D.C., focusing on national security, intelligence, and foreign affairs. He has written a book about the C.I.A. More about Mark Mazzetti

Our Coverage of the Israel-Hamas War

News and Analysis

Israel said that it would send more troops to Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza and the current focal point in the war between Israel and Hamas. Fighting in the city has closed off a vital border crossing, forced hundreds of thousands to flee  and cut off humanitarian aid.

President Biden is pushing for a broad deal that would get Israel to approve a Palestinian nation  in return for Saudi recognition of Israel. But officials need to overcome Israeli opposition.

The Arab League called for a United Nations peacekeeping force to be deployed in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank until a two-state solution can be negotiated , in a statement that also called for the U.N. Security Council to set a time limit for that process.

FIFA Delays a Vote: Soccer’s global governing body postponed a decision to temporarily suspend Israel  over its actions in Gaza, saying it needed to solicit legal advice before taking up a motion submitted by the Palestinian Football Association.

PEN America’s Literary Gala: The free-expression group has been engulfed by debate  over its response to the Gaza war that forced the cancellation of its literary awards and annual festival. But its literary gala went on as planned .

Jerusalem Quartet Will Perform: The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, one of the world’s most prestigious concert halls, said that it would allow the Jerusalem Quartet to perform , two days after it had canceled the ensemble’s concerts amid security concerns.

A Key Weapon: When President Biden threatened to pause some weapons shipments to Israel if it invaded Rafah, the devastating effects of the 2,000-pound Mark 84 bomb  were of particular concern to him.


2023 Ford F-150 Lightning XLT Yearlong Test: Off to a Bumpy Start with "RangeLiar"

EV life in the Midwest is nothing like EV life in Southern California, and we’re gaining a keen appreciation for Middle America’s reluctance to go electric.

Frank Markus Writer Andi Hedrick Photographer Jun 06, 2023

how can you start off a book report

See All 76 Photos

If you're sensing déjà vu, don't distress. This is indeed MotorTrend 's secondyearlong Ford F-150 Lightning arrival story. The Lariat model you've already read about is the one we specced, built, and paid for after dropping a $500 deposit on the day of its public launch. This more modestly equipped F-150 Lightning XLT model is the one Ford is loaning us for 12 months after winning Truck of the Year . If you're wondering how on earth we'll find enough to say about two such similar long-termers, fear not. We're already off to a starkly different experience with our new Michigan-based Lightning, and America's Water-Winter Wonderland will present entirely different opportunities and experiences than our Los Angeles-based Lariat.

Off to a Bumpy Start

This F-150 Lightning awaited us at the airport on a late March evening following a winter vacation in the tropics, but it warmed us quickly. The next morning, battery topped off at home with the cabin preconditioned, the range meter predicted 315 miles—way more than enough for a 130-mile drive north to retrieve our pooch from Grandma's house. We drove with traffic at the prevailing Michigan speed (10 mph over the 70-mph limit) and arrived with less than 120 miles of range remaining—nowhere near enough to get home. Grandma's house lacks a charger, and her town of Midland boasts just four—all of them 6.5-kW Level 2 chargers.

We talked ourselves into a perch dinner in nearby Bay City to avail ourselves of an Electrify America station boasting four 350-kW chargers, one of which got us from 31 to 67 percent charge (199 miles) in 24 minutes at a peak charging rate of 155 kW (though we've observed as high as 182 kW in our SoCal truck). Surely that's plenty? Nope. Driving 10 over the 75-mph limit on US-10 for the 15 miles back to grandma's consumed 49 miles of indicated range. Our attempt to creep home at 70 mph, traffic streaking by on the left, failed, forcing a stop at a 125-kW ChargePoint station curiously located inside the short-term parking lot at the Flint airport. It haltingly dispensed 20 miles of range in 10 minutes before faulting out, forcing us to complete the 58-mile run at 65 mph, arriving on electronic "fumes." Had I just purchased this $85,779 truck, I'd be asking for my money back.

how can you start off a book report

Nickname: "RangeLiar"

For the first few weeks I made a point of noting the range estimation before various trips and then noting the range remaining at the end of the trip. Every trip consumed more miles of estimated range than miles traveled. Remember when you screwed up as a kid, deflected blame, and your parents told you, "It's not what you did, it's lying about it that disappointed us"? I'm that parent here, and in this age of machine learning and artificial intelligence, I'm disappointed that Ford is either unable or unwilling to give me the bad news about how far this truck will actually travel on a charge—especially when destinations are entered into the native navigation system. And yes, it was late winter, and we were running some heat . But we're also operating 20 miles from Ford's engineering headquarters, so this climate should be no surprise to the truck's computers. When pressed on the subject, Ford admitted programming the system to present EPA best-case range when charging via Level 2 chargers like we've got at home and the office, but an upcoming Intelligent Range feature coming via over-the-air update might soon change this.

Aerodynamic Brick

We get it (now). We're shoving a big barn door through the air. Because Ford repurposed its gas F-150 for EV duty, there wasn't much opportunity to optimize the Lightning for aero the way Rivian did its R1T . Drag force varies with the square of the speed and the added horsepower required to overcome that drag varies with the cube of speed, so while the difference in drag between 70 and 80 mph is 31 percent for any vehicle, the change in actual drag force and horsepower as speeds rise is dramatically higher for the Lightning than in other long-term EVs our Michigan staff has experienced. And we Michiganders drive fast—posted freeway limits are 70 mph right through much of the Detroit metroplex, rising to 75 out in the sticks.

how can you start off a book report

Our Truck's Specifications

The Lighting XLT starts off at $65,369 , but heaven help the truck buyer who passes on the $12,500 extended-range battery, which adds 33 kWh of usable capacity, 80 miles of range, and 128 peak horsepower. Of the other gear (listed in the specs) a noteworthy one is the tonneau cover. At $595, our soft tri-folding one is the cheapest of three offered (rigid folding is $1,200, retractable runs $2,200). It's noticeably lighter and easier to remove and store than the one we ran on our most recent yearlong Ram 2500 HD, but the spring-loaded latches at the rear seem cheap and fragile. Sadly, the chip shortage robbed our truck of the onboard scales feature .

Find a car near you

Pure Michigan

Now that we've internalized the potentially counterproductive effects of high speeds (you'll arrive a lot later if that extra 10 mph forces an additional charging stop), we're starting to appreciate the quiet cabin, the creamy-smooth (for a pickup) ride quality, and the Sync 4 user interface. So far 65 percent of our charging has been Level 2 AC, resulting in lower per-mile energy costs than for our predominantly DC-fast-charged California Lightning ($0.17 versus $0.20). We'll be running to the lakes, using that Pro Power Onboard energy to power lawn and construction projects—not to mention the MotorTrend tailgate-party trailer—and lots more. The big question is, will we take it on enough long trips to accrue 20,000 miles, given that everybody in this office dreads the prospect of traveling around the nation's midsection, where chargers are fewer, farther between, and frequently FUBAR? Stick with us to find out.

MotorTrend Recommended Stories

how can you start off a book report

We’re Paying $650/Year to Subscribe to Our Ford F-150 Lightning

Christian Seabaugh | May 23, 2023

how can you start off a book report

For Us, It’ll Cost $18K to Power a House With Our Ford F-150 Lightning

Christian Seabaugh | Jan 27, 2023

how can you start off a book report

The Ford F-150 Lightning Is the 2023 MotorTrend Truck of the Year

Scott Evans | Dec 13, 2022

how can you start off a book report

We Just Bought a Ford F-150 Lightning

Christian Seabaugh | Dec 8, 2022

how can you start off a book report

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Pro First Test: The Future of Basic Looks Fun

Scott Evans | Nov 28, 2022

how can you start off a book report

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Platinum First Test: The Revolution Will Be Quick and Quiet

Eric Tingwall | Jul 15, 2022


  1. 💌 How to start a book report introduction. How to Write an Introduction

    how can you start off a book report

  2. 💌 How to start a book report introduction. How to Write an Introduction

    how can you start off a book report

  3. 💐 How to start a book report introduction. ᐉ How to Start a Book Report

    how can you start off a book report

  4. 💋 How to make a good book report. Writing a Book Report in Seven Steps

    how can you start off a book report

  5. What 5 Teach Me: Simple Book Report for Kids

    how can you start off a book report

  6. 😝 Ways to start a book report. ᐉ How to Start a Book Report ☑️ Book

    how can you start off a book report


  1. How Can I Effectively Outline My Book?

  2. 4 Strategies for Launching a Book

  3. How To Create Book Report Presentation on Microsoft Powerpoint

  4. How to Structure a Non Fiction Book Chapter

  5. How to Get Reviews by using Booksprout

  6. 6 Simple Tricks to Unstick Your Novel & Start Writing Again!


  1. How to Write a Book Report: A Step-by-Step Guide

    Include the title and author in your intro, then summarize the plot, main characters, and setting of the book. Analyze the author's writing style, as well as the main themes and arguments of the book. Include quotes and examples to support your statements. Part 1.

  2. How to Write a Book Report

    Develop the body: You can follow your outline or a book report template to write the body of your report. Discuss each element (plot, characters, themes, etc.) in separate paragraphs or sections. Conclude your report: Summarize your main points and offer your final thoughts and evaluation of the book. Review and revise: Finally, review and ...

  3. How to Write the Perfect Book Report (4 easy steps)

    Step 2. Once you have finished reading the book and have taken thorough notes, it is time to start organizing your thoughts. Create an outline to structure your report like the one in the example above. Make sure you over all the necessary components.

  4. How to Start a Book Report

    2. Summarize the Content and Provide Details. A book report is meant to discuss the contents of the book at hand, and your introductory paragraph should give a little overview. This isn't the place to delve into details, but draw off your hook to share a little more information that is crucial to the storyline.

  5. How to Write a Book Report

    The body paragraphs of your book report accomplish several goals: they describe the plot, delve more deeply into the characters and themes that make the book unique, and include quotations and examples from the book. Below are some resources to help you succeed in summarizing and analyzing your chosen text.

  6. Writing a Book Report in Seven Steps

    3. Organize your notes and create an outline. Gather your notes and arrange them into categories. Once you've completed this, write an outline and organize the categories to become the paragraphs of your book report. Jot down bullet points on what each paragraph will include and what part of the book can support it.

  7. How to Write a Book Report: 9 Simple Steps

    Step 1: Choose the Book. To learn how to write a report, you must first pick up a book. When choosing a book, many options are available, especially from American book writers. Look for authors who have made significant contributions to literature and have a writing style that resonates with you. Consider the genre and subject matter that you ...

  8. How to Write a Book Report (+ Book Report Example)

    2. Identify the main elements of the book. Scrutinize the book's primary components, including its main themes, characters, setting, and plot. These elements will form the basis of your report. 3. Formulate a thesis statement. Compose a thesis statement that encapsulates your personal perspective about the book.

  9. How to Write a Book Report

    Our top tips include: Check the assignment instructions so you know what you need to do. Read the book, making notes as you go. Plan your book report and create an essay outline. Write up your report, using examples and quotes to support your points. Revise and proofread your work to eliminate errors. In the rest of this post, we look at how to ...

  10. How To Write A Book Report (Step-by-Step Guide)

    1. Choose the Book. The first step is to select a book on which you want to write a report. It's important to choose a book that is appropriate for the assignment's requirements and aligns with your interests or the subject matter. 2.

  11. 10 Steps to Writing a Successful Book Report

    Develop paragraph ideas. Each paragraph should have a topic sentence and a sentence that transitions to the next paragraph. Try writing these first, then filling out the paragraphs with your examples (symbols). Don't forget to include the basics for every book report in your first paragraph or two. Review, re-arrange, repeat.

  12. How to Write a Book Report

    Writing a high school book report includes the following steps: Read the book thoroughly and with purpose. Make an outline before writing the report as a pre-writing step. Follow the guidelines and the given format to create the title page for your report. Add basic details in the introduction of your book report.

  13. How to write a book report

    A book report template you can use for any book report If you find yourself stuck on how to start a book report, here's a handy book report template you can use to get things off the ground. Simply use this structure and start filling it in with the specifics of the book you are writing your report on.

  14. How to Write a Book Report in 4 Easy Steps

    Start as soon as possible once you're given the assignment. As soon as you pick your book,, factor in at least two weeks for writing and wrapping up your report. Divide the number of pages by the remaining days: that will be the number of pages you will have to read per day. Practice narration.

  15. How to Write a Great Book Report

    The start of your book report provides an opportunity to make a solid introduction to the material and your own personal assessment of the work. You should try to write a strong introductory paragraph that grabs your reader's attention. Somewhere in your first paragraph, you should also state the book's title and the author's name.

  16. Book Reports

    They are similar to book reviews but focus more on a summary of the work than an evaluation of it. Book reports commonly describe what happens in a work; their focus is primarily on giving an account of the major plot, characters, thesis, and/or main idea of the work. Most often, book reports are a K-12 assignment and range from 250 to 500 words.

  17. How to Start a Good Book Report

    Give the book's title and author, as well as an interesting fact about the book or a reason why you chose to read it. Provide a short summary of the book, no longer than two sentences, based on the summary you came up with earlier. Write your thesis statement in one clear sentence, and place it after the summary.

  18. How to Write a Book Report

    Full Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLALQuK1NDrh9HgAQ22wep8X18Fvvcm8R--Watch more How to Write Essays and Research Papers videos: http://ww...

  19. ᐉ How to Start a Book Report ☑️ Book Report Introduction

    After all, the book is the entire point of your report. Mention the book's title and author early in your introduction—in the first sentence, if possible. This means that your reader will know from the start what the focus of your report is. Example 1: J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings is arguably the most influential piece of ...

  20. 6 Easy Steps to Writing a Book Report

    What are the steps to writing a book report that will earn you an A? Check out these helpful tips from tutor Natalie S.!

  21. Non Fiction Book Report: A Student's Brief Guide to Writing Them

    The information in the description portion of a nonfiction book report includes background on the author and relevant information on the creation of the book. State how the book has been assembled or organized, especially if it takes a unique genre form. This includes the author's intention with the book as a thesis or a statement of purpose.

  22. Easy Ways to Start Writing a Report (with Pictures)

    Start fleshing your outline into a full report. Go section by section as you begin drafting your report. First, use the thesis you've written and place it at the end of your introductory paragraph. Build your first paragraph around this main purpose, and guide the reader through the main themes of the report.

  23. Hello GPT-4o

    Prior to GPT-4o, you could use Voice Mode to talk to ChatGPT with latencies of 2.8 seconds (GPT-3.5) and 5.4 seconds (GPT-4) on average. To achieve this, Voice Mode is a pipeline of three separate models: one simple model transcribes audio to text, GPT-3.5 or GPT-4 takes in text and outputs text, and a third simple model converts that text back to audio.

  24. Money blog: 'Extremely worrying' mortgage trend revealed in new report

    By Ollie Cooper, Money team. Estate agent fees are one of the big expenses in selling a house - but rule changes and the rise of private sale websites have made it more common for people to go it ...

  25. Trump trial recap: Cohen says Trump approved Stormy Daniels payment

    The court is publishing daily transcripts of proceedings, so you can read key testimony from more than a dozen witnesses, including Stormy Daniels and former top Trump aide Hope Hicks.

  26. When can you catch red snapper? TPWD announces season start date

    0:01. 0:25. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced Thursday the private recreational angler red snapper season in federal waters will open in June 1 of this year. Red snapper fishing is ...

  27. Sean 'Diddy' Combs seen physically assaulting Cassie Ventura in 2016

    A 2016 surveillance video obtained exclusively by CNN shows Sean "Diddy" Combs grab, shove, drag and kick his then-girlfriend Cassie Ventura during an altercation that matches allegations in a ...

  28. Law firms kicked off 2024 with strong demand and profits, report finds

    May 6 (Reuters) - Law firms are off to a strong start in 2024 after a lackluster 2023 that saw weak client demand and declining collections on billed work, new financial data shows. Demand for ...

  29. How Extremist Settlers Took Over Israel

    Judith Karp led a 1982 internal government investigation that found Israeli authorities unwilling or unable to confront settler crimes. "We were very naïve," she now recalls. Peter van ...

  30. 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning XLT Yearlong Test: Off to a Bumpy Start with

    Our Truck's Specifications. The Lighting XLT starts off at $65,369, but heaven help the truck buyer who passes on the $12,500 extended-range battery, which adds 33 kWh of usable capacity, 80 miles ...