- Series: Critical Issues in World and International History
- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (December 28, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0742533875
- ISBN-13: 978-0742533875
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #764,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Magic and Superstition in Europe: A Concise History from Antiquity to the Present (Critical Issues in World and International History)
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Michael Bailey has written a sweeping, broadly accessible account of magic, religion, and 'superstition' over the past two thousand years. He has not only read deeply but also pondered the way in which our traditions have stigmatized especially those beliefs and practices that seem most closely threatening to us. This book deserves to be widely read. (H. C. Erik Midelfort, University of Virginia)
Bailey's style of writing is captivating and the results of his archival research are impressive...useful guide for a wide audience and for any folklorists dealing with the topic of magic and superstition in cultural context. (Svitlana P. Kukharenko, University of Alberta)
Michael D. Bailey's Magic and Superstition in Europe: A Concise History from Antiquity to the Present successfully accomplishes the author's expressed aim of convincing readers that magic has always been, and continues to be, an important aspect of European history. Based on an impressive command of the vast (and constantly expanding) scholarship of the history of magic, the book skillfully weaves together seemingly disparate, and chronologically distant, stages in the history of Europe's magical traditions into intrinsically related parts of a coherent, comprehensive narrative. It should be welcomed as a masterful survey of major trends in European intellectual and religious history, explored through the prism of common magical traditions and (especially) learned magical practices and attitudes toward the occult. (Magic, Ritual and Witchcraft)
An ambitious survey of the history of magic from the ancient world to the modern West. The broad scope of the book gives readers a useful comparative perspective on how different Western societies viewed and categorized magic and superstition, and how magical traditions changed and adapted to different historical circumstances. . . . Bailey . . . shows admirable command and understanding of a wide range of material. (The Catholic Historical Review, July 2009)
This is a reliable, enjoyable and admirably lucid book from which students and experts alike will benefit. (European History Quarterly, Volume 40.1)
Michael Bailey has chosen a subject of enormous significance in European civilization―its dark but alluring ‘other.' Magic and superstition have always been essential to the drawing of cultural and social boundaries and to perceptions of backwardness and modernity. Wisely declining to give them abstract definitions, Bailey allows them to appear instead as categories of separation and refusal in many different historical contexts. This is an ambitious but conceptually secure study. (Stuart Clark, University of Wales Swansea)
Bailey lays the groundwork for fruitful classroom discussions. (Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture)
About the Author
Michael D. Bailey is assistant professor of history at Iowa State University.
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The author is true to his word, in the sense that readers must not expect anything in the way of theory or philosophy, and very little in the way of description (full details of what magic entailed during every period under consideration). The book is more an example of what a history can be in its narrowest and least rewarding sense: a list of names and dates.
Even within these self-imposed limits there are perplexing holes in the account. The author does not include words like `grimoire', and `Zohar', but manages to include mention of Newton, Diderot and Hobbes.
The low point of the book for me is the central section describing the witch trials. The author's attention is devoted entirely to a history of the beliefs and practices of the authorities of the inquisitions, and shirks the effort of attempting a fuller description of the accused and their beliefs and practices, i.e. a history of magic and superstition in Europe.