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Tituba, Reluctant Witch of Salem: Devilish Indians and Puritan Fantasies (American Social Experience) Hardcover – December 1, 1995


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Tituba, Reluctant Witch of Salem: Devilish Indians and Puritan Fantasies (American Social Experience) + Root of Bitterness: Documents of the Social History of American Women
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Product Details

  • Series: American Social Experience (Book 35)
  • Hardcover: 270 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press (December 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814712274
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814712276
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,405,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Breslaw (history, Univ. of Tennessee) provides a fascinating account of Tituba, an American Indian slave woman whose confession inspired much of the 1692 Salem witch trials. Breslaw reveals Tituba as a South American (not an African, as 19th- and 20th-century writers supposed) who was sold into slavery in Barbados and came to Salem with the Reverend Samuel Parris, her owner. Tituba skillfully used her knowledge and storytelling ability to save her own life and to express defiance of her master both in her confession and in her subsequent recantation. Highly recommended for scholars in American history and literature as well as general readers.
Carolyn M. Craft, Longwood Coll., Farmville, Va.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

“A fascinating theory about the origins of the witch hunt that is sure to influence future historians. . . . a valuable probe of how myths can feed hysteria”
-The Washington Post Book World

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“An imaginative reconstruction of what might have been Tituba's past.”
-Times Literary Supplement

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“A fine example of readable scholarship.”
-Baltimore Sun

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kimberly Wells on January 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
This text retells the story we think we know about Tituba of Salem-- you know, the black slave woman who got all that trouble started with her voodoo-esque witchery... this book traces the historical evidence for Tituba actually being a Native American, and the path she would have taken to get to Salem at the time, as well as the story of what happened after she was swept up in the drama of the Puritans' search for the devil in the New World. It's a well-written historical account that is academic, but not so academic that those who are studying this period for fun will be alienated.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Brady Crytzer on September 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
Unlike most biographies of the time period, Elaine Breslaw does not simply elaborate on the life of a historically significant figure in Tituba: Reluctant Witch of Salem. In this biographical work Breslaw establishes a clear mission to shed light on the life of a vastly misunderstood individual by dismissing common misconceptions and elaborating on accepted fact. Despite the fact that there is a brevity of sound biography on Tituba, Breslaw succeeds in creating a most complete and convicining portrayal of Massachusettes most infamous 17th century witch.

In the section one Breslaw highlights the cultural and national origins of Tituba, focusing primarily on her Arawak roots on the island of Barbados. Described by the author as an "Amerindian slave," Tituba's journey to the new world is laid in a precise and well documented manner through the employment of colonial records. Breslaw asserts her claims in the second chapter as she reasserts that there exists no other reference to any persons of the name Tituba in any colonial record. Next, the author claims that Tituba most likely arrived in Barbados via South America courtesy of the booming slave trading industry just prior to the time that Samuel Parris returned to America. The third chapter of the biography focuses on slave and plantation life in Barbados at the time of Samuel Parris' stay. Breslaw recalls that African-culture had permeated plantation life, supplying Tituba ample opportunity to observe traditional practices of witchcraft. The author however believed that no amount of time could have given the slave girl a strong enough grasp of the traditions she would be later accused of.

The remainder of the biography focuses on Tituba in the context of 17th century Massachusetts.
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By E. Carmichael on October 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
An interesting, complex and scholarly analysis of Tituba's role in the Salem Witch Trials. Breslaw writes well but has a tendency to try to reinforce her points through repetition -- often at great length -- rather than the presentation of supporting information. She also sometimes presents speculation as fact, without sufficient documentation to support such an approach. Overall, however, the book is quite readable and informative. The appendices are extremely valuable, and the book would benefit from the addition of an appendix addressing the presentation of Tituba in literature, particularly as many readers will first come into contact with her via Arthur Miller's play The Crucible.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Istariel on April 30, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Had to drop out of class due to health problems and unable to finish the book, but what was read was educational.
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