Most helpful critical review
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2012
To my knowledge, this is the only book dedicated exclusively to the Connecticut witch trials of 1692. I was unaware of these events - as opposed to the more famous events in Salem - until recently when I discovered that Elizabeth Clawson (Clayson) was an ancestor, which then sparked my interest.
This book was written for a popular audience and my major quibble with it is that, given the lack of footnotes, it became difficult to discern what statements/thoughts were based on actual documentary evidence and which ones were interpolations made by the author. This is physically small and textually relatively brief book - no doubt related to the relative scarcity of first hand accounts and documentation, but it does give a serviceable account of the accusations, events, and indictments/trials. However, there is not much depth here or insight - it's a narrative of events - not an analysis of motivations or greater social/historic events.
The last chapter contains the requisite (in academia) and tiresome analogy between the events in Connecticut and Joseph McCarthy and HUAC. Let me help with this: there were no witches (as popularly understood) in New England in the late seventeenth century, but there were communists and, more pertinent, communist spies and paid informants (as confirmed by Venona) in the U.S. State Department, U.S. Military, Hollywood, etc. in America during the 1950s. Why PhDs cannot make this distinction is really beyond me; one might almost suspect that it is ideological......