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Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England Paperback – November 18, 2004
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"A book that will rank with the best, a book that shows how much we still may learn from these people. This is not simply a monograph on witchcraft but a major attempt to understand the kind of society and the kind of culture in which witchcraft had a place. Rich in insights."--The New York Review of Books
"A remarkable piece of scholarship. Vividly illustrates what made certain individuals vulnerable to charges of witchcraft."--The New York Times Book Review
"History in such capable hands becomes much more than a chronicle: it makes the past seem as vivid and dimensional, and every bit as compelling, as the present."--Newsweek
"With the publication of this book, the historical study of American witchcraft finally comes of age."--American Historical Review
"Beautifully written and exhaustively researched."--Virginia Quarterly Review
"Well written and easy to read.... More than a history of witchcraft. It is placed within the wider social context and is thus a history of early New England culture.... Very well documented."--History: Reviews of New Books
"A work that sets the stage for the eruption in Salem and promises to transform the terms in which we understand that extravagant episode.... A rewarding and fascinating achievement well worth reading."--American History Illustrated
"Demos has done an excellent job of researching a subject of great interest today."--William C. Viser, Ouachita Baptist University
"An ambitious, informative work."--Paul Tiverow, Missouri Southern State College
"Brilliant."--Herbert Cederberg, University of Wisconsin
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Top Customer Reviews
His ability to extract info from dry old records -- marriages, deeds, court cases, etc. -- and make us care about these people is astonishing. The tragic case of Rachel Clinton might actually put a lump in your throat: her voyage to America at age 6; her bitter mother who was eventually certified insane; her brother-in-law's successful hijacking of her father's substantial estate, leaving Rachel with virtually nothing; Rachel's miserable marriage to a sleazy opportunist; and her embittered old age on public assistance. At least she was reprieved, and did not hang after her witchcraft conviction, but it was just about the only break she ever got. If that case doesn't get to you, the description of Margaret Jones (one of the earliest to hang, in 1648), just indicted, and going to her best friend's house where the two women sat together "both of them crying" just might.
The book is rich with case histories, interspersed with intelligent analysis of Puritan psychology, sociology, and historical events. Not one to settle for simpleminded explanations, Demos shows how all these factors interacted to impact a community and increase, or decrease, the likelihood of witchcraft accusations.
Its description of colonial life is VERY detailled. If you like to read about the material goods and activities of earlier times (maybe if you enjoyed "Worldly Goods"), or if you like history brought to life through real human beings (as in "A Distant Mirror") you might enjoy this greatly. And it's a demonstration of the historical method at its best.
Part one examines the biographical nature of witches in seventeenth century New England. Using the examples of John Godfrey and Rachel Clinton, Demos organizes a considerable amount of historical records and court documents detailing the biographical characteristics of witches. Part two studies the psychology of those accused of witchcraft, those accusing others of being a witch, and examines the psychological structure of seventeenth century New England Puritan communities. The psychology of witchcraft is the strongest argument in the book. This was a new and thought-provoking analysis of the mass hysteria that flourished in New England over witches. A significant amount of research was done at the local level through archival documentation utilizing primary sources from court hearings and eyewitness accounts of those present during witchcraft accusations.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's a classic. A lot has been written about witchcraft in early New England, but few works are as comprehensive and well-researched as Demos's Entertaining Satan.Published 7 months ago by KillerBunny
The book could have been worse or better. Highlight is topics are covered in depth but on the other hand topics can be drawn out . Read morePublished 11 months ago by Brent V
A very modern and comprehensive attempt.
Demos writes a very encompassing and dynamic historical work that sheds more light on the topic of Salem than most others. Read more
I love the subject matter-- witchcraft in 17th century New England. The really good feature of this book is that the author gives accounts of smaller, lesser-known cases of... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Khowes74
This book was Better than I expected. It came in
as a hard copy and in great condition instead of a paper back
This is a very scholarly look at witchcraft in 17th century New England. It should be regarded as a text book. It is not suitable for light readingPublished on November 29, 2013 by Gina B
The book was interesting and helpful in my research on witchcraft and Early New England. It was a sad, strange time.Published on November 18, 2012 by Rondo