During the bleak winter of 1692 in the rigid Puritan community of Salem Village, Massachusetts, a group of young girls began experiencing violent fits, allegedly tormented by Satan and the witches who worshipped him. From the girls' initial denouncing of an Indian slave, the accusations soon multiplied. In less than two years, 19 men and women were hanged, one was pressed to death, and over a100 others were imprisoned and impoverished.
This evenhanded and now-classic history illuminates the horrifying episode with visceral clarity, from the opportunistic Putnam clan, who fanned the crisis to satisfy personal vendettas and greed, to four-year-old "witch" Dorcas Good, who was chained to a dank prison wall in darkness till she went mad. By placing the distant period of the Salem witch trials in the larger context of more contemporary eruptions of mass hysteria and intolerance, the author has created a work as thought-provoking as it is emotionally powerful.
"Hill reminds us that 'witch-hunts are still with us'." (Booklist)
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A new take on the Witch Trials
Absolutely. In fact, I have had to listen to parts more closely a second time since I was driving while listening and needed to pay more attention.
I really enjoyed the different lens that Ms. Hill looks through to see the Witch Trials. Instead of looking at the more salacious details or the religious aspect, Ms Hill looks at the Witch Trials through the political and sociological values and events at the time. Ms. Hill is an historian, and her attention to detail comes through. I was fascinated throughout.
I particularly enjoyed the wry descriptions of the girl's behavior during the trials.
Don't blame the Devil, Blame the Putnams
The narrator was wonderful, articulating clearly and at a good pace.
- Jolene Correll
- Denis O'Brien Shannon