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  • The Devil in the Shape of a Woman

  • Witchcraft in Colonial New England
  • By: Carol F. Karlsen
  • Narrated by: Jo Anna Perrin
  • Length: 9 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Confessing to "familiarity with the devils", Mary Johnson, a servant, was executed by Connecticut officials in 1648. A wealthy Boston widow, Ann Hibbens, was hanged in 1656 for casting spells on her neighbors. The case of Ann Cole, who was "taken with very strange Fits", fueled an outbreak of witchcraft accusations in Hartford a generation before the notorious events at Salem.

More than 300 years later, the question "Why?" still haunts us. Why were these and other women likely witches - vulnerable to accusations of witchcraft and possession? Carol F. Karlsen reveals the social construction of witchcraft in 17th-century New England and illuminates the larger contours of gender relations in that society.

©1998 Carol F. Karlsen (P)2018 Tantor

What listeners say about The Devil in the Shape of a Woman

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  • Audrey
  • 13-10-2019

Vital scholarship beautifully narrated.

Absolutely fascinating and complex. The narration is clear and pleasant to listen to and Karlsen’s scholarship is still deeply relevant. Her illumination of the social circumstances leading to early American conceptions of witchcraft is nuanced and refuses to be reductive, which is refreshing as so many will describe witchcraft trials and outbreaks as being only due to one or two cultural circumstances. Karlsen is a brilliant historian as well as a wonderful story teller. Absolutely excellent.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 26-09-2020

Infuriating

Haven’t even finished it yet but my god, it’s well-written, beautiful, and infuriating.
So little changes. So very little changes through time in the paradoxical, nonsensical ways we trap women in our society. It is heartbreaking to hear how so many women were accused and punished, and in some ways punished themselves, for wanting more out of their lives.

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  • B. McGee
  • 20-06-2021

Well researched

The author did such an efficient job researching material for her book. I loved the analytics, statistics, and percentages that resulted from diligent research giving the reader a nice overview of the people and the times.
One thing that puzzled me was pinpointing the author's main agenda. Was she saying the "accused" witches were all wrongfully accused, or was she saying that if they actually claimed or confessed to be witches they should not have been persecuted? I was a little confused.
I liked the book and truly admire the author's hard work in honoring and revitalizing these stigmatized forgotten women's lives.

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  • LCR
  • 02-03-2020

Insightful, Enraging and thorough.

This much needed female lens on The Witch Trials will enrage you with the inequality the women faced.
You get a very clear rundown of life in Puritan New England and how this utterly oppressive regime pushed women to breaking point.
There are times where the piece goes back to previously mentioned people and as often happens with history books there are the occasional run down of dates and names that can become confusing but that says more about my concentration than the work itself.
Possibly the most interesting are the parts on possessed witnesses. The author's insights of possession are particularly poignant.
The author also satisfyingly concludes the piece by giving their definition of the Witch Trials in a highly quotable sentence or two.
Stick around for the Afterword where the author offers clarification but, more enjoyably, a takedown of criticism of their work from a dismissive academic.
Overall, a thorough evaluation of The Witch Trials without fluff and without the sensationalism.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 22-01-2019

Great job

Great book. Made me look at this time in history in a new light. Thank you

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