The Witches

The Witches

Salem, 1692

Large Print - 2015
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The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Cleopatra analyzes the Salem Witch Trials to offer key insights into the role of women in its events while explaining how its tragedies became possible. It began in 1692, over an exceptionally raw Massachusetts winter, when a minister's daughter began to scream and convulse. It ended less than a year later, but not before 19 men and women had been hanged and an elderly man crushed to death.
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Company, 2015.
Edition: Large print edition.
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780316387743
Branch Call Number: LP 345.0288 SCHIFF
Characteristics: xxi, 789 pages (large print), 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (chiefly color), color map on endpages ; 25 cm
large print,rda
Alternative Title: Salem, 1692


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Feb 24, 2018

Back in 1692 - (Amongst all of the chaos, mayhem, and vicious accusations going on in Salem at the time) - There's one question that I'd say must have been on the lips of all the god-fearing "Puritans" living there. And, that question would be - "Which witch is which?"

Even though author, Stacy Schiff's "The Witches" was on the decidedly lengthy side (at 498 pages) - I'd definitely say that this exhaustive, true-account narrative of the Salem witch trials was certainly an intriguing, in-depth look at a very horrific chapter in American history.

This terrifying "real-life" tale was certainly an eye-opening example of blind hysteria, rampant finger-pointing, and religious extremism to the max.

In regards to all of these inhuman witch hunts - I found that one of the most surprising aspects of it all was that these "Puritans" were not peasants - No - They were all very well-educated people - But their actions in this matter certainly said otherwise.

This book also includes 16 pages of historical photographs.

Oct 20, 2017

A informative fun read on what went on during 1692 Salem. Fun for the simple reason of how the first sentence starts the journey. "In 1692, the Massachusetts Bay colony tried fourteen women, five men and two dogs for witchcraft."

Jan 04, 2017

I was so impressed with Schiff's "Cleopatra" that I expected more from this book. It's just as well researched, and for the most part well written. However, even with the list of major characters at the beginning, it's very hard to keep track of who's who, and even the chronology. I have ancestors who, two years before this event, were massacred by the French and Indians in New York, with no mention, in a great deal of reading, about witchcraft. So one reason for reading it was to learn why Salem, also "infested" by French and Indians, became the setting for witchcraft. I didn't learn the answer--it wasn't Schiff's question. I do think her focus on the power manifested during these few months by women and young girls is a valid one. Not a single accusation was against a father or a son, though every other family or social relationship was the target of an accusation. Interestingly, those who accused didn't hang, but those who were accused. And the after effects lasted for generations, even to the present day tourism in Salem. The fact, not trivial, that Massachusetts had the highest literacy rate in the world in 1692, is relevant, as is the fact that the Puritans had very few books to choose among besides the Bible. We don't read the Bible as demonic, but they did. The other relevant fact is that the Puritans, like the Pilgrims, a very different group, left England for New England because of religious persecution. They believed they had to behave a certain way in order to create a successful society. When that began to fall apart, who were they going to blame?

AL_LESLEY Nov 09, 2016

Not a rip-roaring ride, Witches is still a well written and researched historical treatise. Beginning with a summary, Schiff then dedicates most of the book to the available resources, which is quite surprising how dense it is considering the sources are somewhat limited to court documents and personal diaries. What can be occasionally quite dry, but nonetheless very informative becomes far more interesting when you get to Schiff's concluding chapters where finally her own voice and interpretations are offered.

The sensationalized topic is misleading, we are dealing with Puritans here. It's not exciting but if you like history it's worth a read.

Nov 06, 2016

Interesting book, however, it is too lengthy; the chapters are way too long! Many details could have been omitted to avoid repetition. The book wouldn't be as thick as it is otherwise. Good depiction of history, but there were others that were accused of witchcraft. Ms. Schiff could have skipped some personal details that I would not care about, such as the wife beating. Another cause of the hysteria of the girls was not explored by the author. I fell asleep reading this book several times. Her book, Cleopatra was excellent - one to rave about.

Jul 16, 2016

Very tedious reading. There are interesting historical details, but it is way too wordy. It is hard to get through it, and the only reason I am completing the book is that it was a gift from a family member, so I feel the need to make it to the end.

Jun 11, 2016

I was looking forward to the book after reading the article in the New Yorker. I should have stayed with just reading the article.

Apr 18, 2016

The author apparently did a lot of research but the writing style is so bloated and poorly organized that it's hard to follow the story of what actually happened. Too much irrelevant contemporary commentary accompanied by bits and pieces of the story, which is too disjointed to follow. Wanted to read the history of this event, and now I'm off to find a better account of it.

Apr 05, 2016

Long, wordy, somewhat pretentious - the author obviously likes using unusual and unfamiliar words to the general population. Timeline was somewhat confusing - hard to keep everyone straight. Despite those criticisms, I did enjoy the book, but it was slow and somewhat tedious at times to get through.

Mar 05, 2016

Wordy and confusing. Barely rescued by insightful witticisms.

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