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The Witches: Salem, 1692 af Stacy Schiff
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The Witches: Salem, 1692 (udgave 2015)

af Stacy Schiff (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
2,707685,481 (3.47)96
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 80-year-old man crushed to death. The panic spread quickly, involving the most educated men and prominent politicians in the colony. Neighbors accused neighbors, parents and children each other. Aside from suffrage, the Salem Witch Trials represent the only moment when women played the central role in American history. In curious ways, the trials would shape the future republic.As psychologically thrilling as it is historically seminal, THE WITCHES is Stacy Schiff's account of this fantastical story-the first great American mystery unveiled fully for the first time by one of our most acclaimed historians.… (mere)
Medlem:keithlaf
Titel:The Witches: Salem, 1692
Forfattere:Stacy Schiff (Forfatter)
Info:Little, Brown and Company (2015), Edition: First Edition, 512 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:***
Nøgleord:Ingen

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The Witches: Salem, 1692 af Stacy Schiff

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Viser 1-5 af 68 (næste | vis alle)
In 1692 when superstition was backed by religion, and made the rule of law, a logical defense didn't exist. Thankfully, for the most part, our judicial system has evolved since 1692. ( )
  TraSea | Apr 29, 2024 |
(3) This is a readable history of the Salem Witch trials of 1692. The author records from primary sources and contemporaneous accounts as well as puts it into historical perspective and reviews current events at the time which may have played a role such as barbaric encroachments by Native Americans onto 'the colonists' land in Maine and rebellion against the governor of the colony put in place by England (almost 100 year before the actual revolution) Most fascinating is her dissection of the afflicted teenage girls motivations which doesn't come until the end. With the advantages of time and science, it is so clear to see they were making shit up with likely collusion of their parents to settle old scores. It is amazing to me that even the most educated minds of the time could beielve in witchcraft and possession. But.. I guess some of that magical thinking still does persist today. The whole idea of powerful men taking teenaged girls so seriously would be funny if it hadn't resulted in innocents being hung and crushed with rocks...

So the subject matter is fascinating, especially as I am from Massachussetts and have been to all those towns. The book makes me want to go back and read more about the Puritans or perhaps re-read 'The Scarlett Letter' or 'The Crucible' this year. All that positive being said, it was a bit of a slog to read. Even with the cast of characters at the front, I kept forgetting who everybody was and the litany of crazy 'crimes' and outlandish testimony of flying on broomsticks, and Satan's little block party, etc. started to get old and repetitive. Continued exerts of famous ministers writings about things such as Cotton Mather were quite boring. So the book would often put me to sleep at night with only a few pages having been read. It was quite dense at times.

All and all, I am glad I read it - an easily readable history and I may add her Pulitzer Prize history of Cleopatra to my reading list. Seems to me it is time for a contemporary documentary style movie re-enactment of this story. Creepy how it was eventually brushed under the rug as an embarrassment and a mistake. But of course, the prosecutorss and justices never received any comeuppance or retribution for their fatal errors. ( )
  jhowell | Jan 20, 2024 |
Stacy Schiff's book, The Witches:Salem, 1692, is a complete accounting of the hysteria that enveloped not just Salem but much of New England at the time. Having a personal interest (don't we all?) I was excited that such a distinguished author had taken up the subject. If you are new to the Salem with phenomenon, this is the book for you, and it will certainly become the go-to one to read. However, Schiff is hampered by the fact that the most of the records that you would expect from the time were either destroyed or conveniently lost. She reconstructs an amazing amount of detail regardless; but, at times the detail can get both boring and a bit turgid. For some reason she and her editors eschewed maps and lists of people involved that might have helped in the navigation. Her commentaries are spot on, but lack punch. And while she nods in the final chapter to more current hysterias, she does not really explore the subject. A useful read--just not as good as I had hoped. ( )
  b00kdarling87 | Jan 7, 2024 |
The book relates how in 1692, the 9 year old daughter of Samuel Parris, the Salem Village minister, and his 11 year old niece Abigail Williams, start to throw fits and declare they can see 'spectres' - invisible presences comprising the spirits of living people - who torment them. Soon, the situation escalates when a well meaning neighbour instructs the male slave, John Indian, to make a witch-cake to reveal the witch afflicting them, and feed it to the household dog. It 'works' only too well, for the girls identify the villagers supposedly tormenting them, and soon others in the village join in the accusations, including John's wife, the Indian slave Tituba, who provides the authorities with a full confession implicating villagers.

Before long, the accusers include the mother and daughter of the wealthier Putnam family as well as a servant girl in their household, and the number of accusers grows daily as more and more girls and women, and eventually young men, are 'bewitched'. When villagers are brought for questioning to the judges appointed to look into the problem, the 'afflicted' as they are known, turn the enquiries and the later trials into a commotion of screaming and fitting as they act out seeing the spectres of the accused tormenting them. The justices suspend all disbelief and won't listen to protestations of innocence; they are only interested if the accused 'confess' to an increasingly farfetched story, by our standards at least. Anyone who expresses doubt ends up accused themselves, until the prisons in a number of New England towns and villages are full of prisoners living in festering, filthy conditions (at their own expense, as was normal for the time), with more and more people arrested daily.

Then the trials begin and it becomes clear that no one will be acquitted, no matter how many upstanding citizens are willing to sign a petition or testify that they are good Christian folk who cannot possibly be witches. The hangings start and one man who won't enter a plea is crushed to death with rocks, against a background of continuing arrests and trials, until the growing doubts around the witchcraft circus finally lead the Governor of the colony to call it to a halt. By that time, as well as those killed by the state, there are a number who have died from the prison conditions, and many families who have had their goods impounded, and their children left destitute or indentured as servants and apprentices.

This isn't the first book I've read on the Salem witchcraft hysteria but I'm afraid it isn't the best. It sets out to try to be modern and snazzy in its constant comparing of 17th century life with modern idioms and ways, with references to 'The Wizard of Oz', Harry Potter and umpteen other facets of 20th and 21st century living. These might be intended to make the situation more understandable to a modern reader but are anachronistic, because people from a Puritan background at that time and place didn't have the same mental frame of reference. It would have been far better to have given a lucid account of what people did actually believe and what their faith involved, to make it understandable why everyone believed in witches, even those accused or those who criticised the court proceedings.

The book treats the witch accounts as real, to the extent of an opening description of a broomstick flight by a couple of the women who later confess when the accusations start flying, which comes across as being a bit too arch and clever somehow. There is also a lot of speculation about how people thought/felt which doesn't actually have evidence underlying it, and some vagueness which seems unnecessary - for example, at one point it's said that someone sent to New York for opinions from ministers there, phrased as if it isn't known who, whereas another book on the subject I am currently reading clearly states their identity and the circumstances. If it's a key point, why not say who it was; otherwise, leave it out altogether.

Similarly, there's confusion about the building in which the Parris family live in 1692 - when the (later accused) minister George Burroughs brings his family to the village as the second minister to serve the community (Parris is the fourth), they have to live with the Putnams rather than moving into the minister's house. The author doesn't seem to know that the reason is that a house was being built for them - as another book makes clear, the original minister's house was given to the first incumbent who rented it out after eventually leaving the village, and the villagers have to donate more land and build another house for Burroughs and his family to occupy. Things like this make it seem as if the writer couldn't be bothered to read the sources.

There is some interesting information about the wars with the French and their Native American allies which formed a frightening background for the inhabitants of New England, as people were being killed in raids all during the period. The analysis of the political factions is also scene setting as is the conflict between Salem Villagers and their successive ministers. The writer gives us a lot about the way the famous Mathers, father and son, both ministers in Boston, had to tiptoe around the influential men who were the Justices so that even when they constantly cautioned them against accepting spectral evidence, the Mathers undercut their warnings by hedging them with statements that of course the judges were worthy, honest, pious men who couldn't possibly have got it wrong in listening to such testimony and sending people to the gallows. Cotton Mather in particular, who never attended the trials, comes across as very self serving and a lot of other authority figures do not cover themselves in glory either. So the book has something to commend it and provides some ideas of why the tragedy occurred, but the style of this thick tome, full of analogy to modern attitudes and cultural icons, means that it is quite difficult to draw this together in the reader's mind. ( )
  kitsune_reader | Nov 23, 2023 |
A very detailed history of the Salem witch trials of 1692. Lots of notes at the back, as well as a list of characters at the beginning to help the reader keep track of the names and relationships. Two sections of photos, mostly images of court documents and illustrations of witches from other books. ( )
  Pferdina | Oct 22, 2023 |
Viser 1-5 af 68 (næste | vis alle)
tilføjet af DoctorDebt | RedigerThe Independent, Arifa Akbar (Nov 5, 2015)
 
tilføjet af DoctorDebt | RedigerChicago Tribune, Amy Gentry (Nov 5, 2015)
 
These are upsetting tales and Schiff writes movingly as well as wittily; this is a work of riveting storytelling as well as an authoritative history. Schiff’s explanations for the events are convincing. She identifies the symptoms of the supposedly bewitched with those neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot listed in his studies of hysteria (twitching, stammering and grimacing) and she suggests that in a repressed, puritanical society, people found this an easy outlet both for boredom and for an uneasy conscience. There were also questions of power at stake: land disputes; sexual and professional rivalries. “Vengeance is walking Salem,” cries Miller’s John Proctor; “the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law!”
tilføjet af souloftherose | RedigerThe Guardian, Lara Feigel (Nov 2, 2015)
 

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I
The Diseases of Astonishment
We will declare frankly that nothing is clear in this world. Only fools and charlatans know and understand everything.
—Anton Chekhov

In 1692 The Massachusetts Bay Colony executed fourteen women, five men, and two dogs for witchcraft. The sorcery materialized in January. The first hanging took place in June, the last in September, a stark, stunned silence followed. What discomfited those who survived the ordeal was not the cunning practice of witchcraft but the clumsy administration of justice. Innocents indeed appeared to have hanged. But guilty parties had escaped. There was no vow never to forget; consigning nine months to obliviion seemed a more appropriate response. It worked, for a generation. We have been conjuring with Salem—our national nightmare, the undercooked, overripe tabloid episode, the dystopian chapter in our past—ever since. It crackles, flickers, and jolts its way through American history and literature.
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"A witch is one who can do or seems to do strange things, beyond the known power of art and ordinary nature, by virtue of a confederacy with evil spirits." - Joseph Glanvill
"Salem is in part the story of what happens when a set of unanswerable questions meets a set of unquestioned answers."
In the anxious murk, religion sometimes seemed a kind of halfway house between reason and superstition.
I observe the law to be very much like a lottery - great charge, little benefit.
Oh! You are liars, and God will stop the mouth of liars...I will speak the truth as long as I live. - Dorcas Hoar
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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 80-year-old man crushed to death. The panic spread quickly, involving the most educated men and prominent politicians in the colony. Neighbors accused neighbors, parents and children each other. Aside from suffrage, the Salem Witch Trials represent the only moment when women played the central role in American history. In curious ways, the trials would shape the future republic.As psychologically thrilling as it is historically seminal, THE WITCHES is Stacy Schiff's account of this fantastical story-the first great American mystery unveiled fully for the first time by one of our most acclaimed historians.

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