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The Witchcraft of Salem Village (Landmark Books) Paperback – June 12, 1987
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Top Customer Reviews
Each review has a context -- the background and personal bias of the reviewer. I'm a former history teacher, now a full time writer, and the Salem incident has fascinated me since childhood. Social history, especially the history of witchcraft and witchcraft accusations, is a particular interest. I have a library of several dozen books on the topic, and have read many more. The focus and clarity of this book made it stand out, even against this extensive background. The straightforward storytelling and lack of speculation and moralizing are refreshing, and a fine antidote to ponderous tomes. Historians often forget that storytelling lies at the heart of history; Ms. Jackson has not. Even if your interest is scholarly and you intend to delve into more detail, this book is well worth reading.
I recommend this book to a wide spectrum of readers. Middle readers will be able to absorb the story. Students looking for an overview will find this provides an excellent foundation. For teachers, librarians and parents seeking good nonfiction, this book is far superior to any other young reader treatment I've seen. History teachers who want to cover the subject and need a refresher on the facts -- and a lesson in style -- will find this book useful. In fact, persons of any age and education with an interest in this subject are likely to find this book worthwhile.
It is no wonder Shirley Jackson has chosen to write about this chapter in American history. Shirley Jackson, as her biography notes, was interested not only in witchcraft and the supernatural, but more in the power of the community, especially a small one, on an individual person. Jackson experienced this power as an evil force and she describes it as such in her work (a good example would be the book "We have always lived in the castle"). Several efforts were made to link Jackson's personal life with her work. After reading much of her work and biography one realizes how she must have sympathized with the accused in the Salem Witchcraft Trials, as a person who was also an outcast or a "strange" member of the community. It seems that the issue of the Salem Witchcraft Trials was more then just an historical chapter for Shirley Jackson.
But beyond the author herself, this is a description of a dead end situation for those wrongly accused of witchcraft and nothing they may possibly do could prove them innocent. Jackson does well in her effort to describe the political and religious atmosphere of the time before getting to the story itself. This is the horrible tale of a group of girls, who in their fear for themselves wrongly accuse other people in witchcraft. One event leads to another and pretty soon they are many steps beyond return. The atmosphere of the time enabled such misdeeds to happen.Read more ›
In 1692 in Salem Village, Massachusetts, a group of young girls claimed to have been mistreated by witches and wizards and began accusing members of their colony. The village elders, devoutly religious Puritans, were utterly in thrall to these girls because of the strictness of their beliefs and the real fear at the time of actual witches, and began arresting the women based on the girls' testimony, and started executing them. Eventually the arrests stopped as people became sick of the witch-hunt but the shocking madness that gripped this village is still a fascinating glimpse into early American life and the disturbing behaviour extreme religious views breeds.
This book is non-fiction but is written in the fluid narrative style of a novel making for easy understanding and reading of this strange story. Jackson writes beautifully and retells the events as closely to the facts as possible. It's amazing to read the way these girls were believed and that on the loosest of accusations by these children that an entire community of grown-ups chose to believe their nonsense and act upon it in such a heinous way. Jackson speculates that it was a convenient way for these grown-ups to work out their frustration over others, a kind of class warfare, but ultimately it comes down to the Puritan religion and the scaremongering that suited it's cause.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is one of Shirley Jackson's lesser known books. Written for her son, I found it an easy read and full of information that surprised me. Read morePublished 9 months ago by David G. Traeger
Kept you wanting to keep reading and find out what was the question surrounding the evidence.Published 9 months ago by Kathleen J. Imbriale
Nonfiction that reads like fiction from the one and only Shirley Jackson. Remember reading this in elementary school, before I knew who Jackson was-- delighted to find it again. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Evelyn M. Walsh
Informative but no new insights. Still amazing the power of mass hysteria even with children so young. Nice way to get ready for a visit to Salem.Published 23 months ago by Paul Rickert
I thought this would be interesting as a way of seeing what Jackson wrote about witchcraft, to which she was attracted, but it's a book ONLY for children with nothing of any depth.Published on May 21, 2014 by Mary Fisher
This is a great book about Salem Village and the power of witchcraft in their time a must read for all history lovers out therePublished on May 12, 2014 by Jbarrett
I liked the book a lot. There was a big portion of information too. Overall it was another one of those books that are eh.Published on November 16, 2013 by Mad's mom
I only knew of Salem 'witchcraft' in part. I wanted to find out more, because in my par, ish in Nigeria we had a primary school child who disrupted her family with witchcraft... Read morePublished on October 20, 2013 by Bob Dundon