It's difficult to review a book without reviewing it, and yet that is just what Palmer does, and what he admits to doing.
Rickless' book is an interpretation of the Parmenides, and, if you consult its TOC, you'll see that its pages 53 to page 250 (the last page) are dedicated to that task.
This is the bulk of the argument of the book, and whether the book succeeds or not, depends upon whether it succeeds at this task. In fact, since Rickless claims that his interpretation is the first which allows a reader to understand each particular twist and turn of the complex deductions of the dialogue, then presumably that claim at least needs to be considered. (That is, if someone is reviewing this book. If such a task seems unpleasant or too onerous, then one ought to decline to review it.)
Yet if you examine the review, you'll find that the following, extremely superficial sketch, is just about all that Palmer says about this main burden of the book:
Chapter 2 considers how Parmenides' criticisms suggest this theory needs to be modified. Chapter 3 articulates a view of the method Parmenides recommends that enables one to read it "as a direct and rational response to the problems raised in the first part of the dialogue" (95). Chapters 4 through 7 then run through the arguments in Parmenides' demonstration of this method to reveal what Rickless takes to be the Parmenides' fundamental lesson, namely, that certain principles of the high and higher theories of forms are to be abandoned.Then, strangely, he says the following:
It will not be necessary further to summarize Rickless's understanding of Parmenides' criticisms of Socrates' theory and of the response to them indicated in the dialectical exercise, for he has himself done so at length in his article on the Parmenides for the web-based Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.That is, Palmer declares that he isn't going to explain--or, presumably, examine critically--the main argument of the book he is reviewing.
Now I don't know what it means to summarize something at length. Rickless' SEP entry is 18,000 words long, or about 55 double-spaced pages. Imagine that instead of referring us to the encyclopedia, Palmer at this point in his review had said, "First I'll summarize the argument of the book; then I'll criticize it", and he proceeded to give an 18,000 word summary. How would that have been adequate, as a review? A fortiori.
But then the encyclopedia article does not present itself as a summary of a book, so if a reviewer were to explain the book by the article, he'd need to say how the book differs, and which parts of the article represent the book. And then of course after doing all this, he would need to give a judgment on whether the book or the article is better, and how. (To bring in a separate article actually implies more work for a reviewer, not less.)
There's also a question of whether a reviewer isn't shirking the responsibility of giving his own judgment if he, in effect and in his own mind, allows the author to summarize the book for him.
Palmer's reply might be that in examining only the first chapter of the book (which is what he does), he says enough to undermine the presuppositions of Rickless' interpretation, which therefore makes a consideration of the rest of the book unnecessary. The reference to the SEP article was a mere courtesy.
I'd be more inclined to accept the integrity of such a strategy, if it didn't also turn out that it's much easier to examine chapter 1 than the rest of the book.
But, be that as it may, I'll look at the success of Palmer's approach in another post.