It began in 1692, over an exceptionally raw Massachusetts winter, when a minister's daughter started 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. The panic spread quickly, involving the most educated men and prominent politicians in the colony. Neighbours accused neighbours, parents accused children, husbands accused wives, children accused their parents, and siblings each other.
Vividly capturing the dark, unsettled atmosphere of 17th-century America, Stacy Schiff's magisterial history draws us into this anxious time. She shows us how a band of adolescent girls brought the nascent colony to its knees and how quickly the epidemic of accusations, trials, and executions span out of control. Above all, Schiff's astonishing research reveals details and complexity that few other historians have seen.
Every detail of colonial life just decades after the first landing - family, farming, praying, housekeeping, dangers of life at wilderness's edge, estrangement from England, the pressures of a life dominated by Biblical thought - is rendered with a clarity that makes almost inconceivable events comprehensible. As psychologically thrilling as it is historically seminal, as magnificently written as it is deeply researched, The Witches breathes new life into one of history's most enduring mysteries.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2015 Stacy Schiff (P)2015 Hachette Audio
I felt there was no plot or main characters to cling to. Way too many footnotes. It should remain a reference book. I have no doubt the author has managed to collate every fact there is to know about Salem, but it for any make for an enjoyable read.
"Thorough and compelling, if somewhat meandering"
For a single-volume history of the Salem witch trials, you probably couldn't pick a better book. Thoroughly researched and soberly presented, Schiff manages to explore what feels like all angles at work, including of course how the trials effected and were affected by the place of women and other powerless groups in this strange and unsettling society. And yet, in true academic fashion, she never explicitly endorses any single interpretation of the events (apart from the obvious, that witches aren't real). I found this a very satisfying book.
However, whereas a straight academic work would probably opt for a purely chronological order, Schiff adopts a more rhetorical structure, which can be bamboozling in audio format, though it probably makes for compelling reading. So keep your wits about you as you listen.
"One of America's maddest and saddest moments"
The Witches is a factual account of the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. It describes the backgrounds of the girls and men and women who made the accusations, and also of the accused. A riveting story of how the constraints of puritan society, politics, and contempt for outsiders ripped a community apart.
I didn't really have a favourite character - there were people who I felt deeply sorry for, particular the first group of women who were taken to the scaffold.
I'm not sure where her accent is from but it matched the account very well. Although it was a factual description, her telling made it more of a story. She brought the characters to life.
Firstly when the women were taken to be hanged. Later there was a very sad description of a pastor who was crushed to death. Both moved me to tears.
"Depressing but really good!"
This is not an easy read at all, but if you have time and are not easily upset, try reading this book. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did. Plus, the AudioBook version is great presentation in itself, and has some extra material added. This is a study of an endurance known to most people as a historical fact. It is done with diligence and attention. In the end, it is not only educational but both emotional and thought provoking.
I love story's about witches. but think maybe if someone else had read the story I would have enjoyed it better, I'm going to read it myself to see if it's any better.
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