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The Devil in the Shape of a Woman

Witchcraft in Colonial New England
Narrated by: Jo Anna Perrin
Length: 9 hrs and 10 mins
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

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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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  • 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