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Witchcraze: A New History of the European Witch Hunts Paperback – June 24, 1995
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"Anne Llewellyn Barstow has thought long and hard about witchcraft. To Witchcraze she brings a rich historical understanding of Europe during the period of the persecution of witches....The book is a gold mine of information." -- Ms.
"Barstow's careful and committed scholarship gives us a new and important geography of this woman-hating persecution. She recognizes the sadism and terror of the witch hunts while scrutinizing the economic and sociological dynamics that may have been crucial factors in the murders. Surely we must know what happened to these women and why. Witchcraze brings us closer to the truth." -- Andrea Dworkin, author of Intercourse
"Serious scholarship and accessible style combine here for fascinating reading--and for an important contribution to the history of women (and men). This may well be the first--and best--work to dare view The Burning Time through unashamedly feminist, and truthful, eyes." -- Robin Morgan
"Thought-provoking....Gripping." -- New York Times Book Review
Top Customer Reviews
I've read some of the reviews here and will say it's difficult for me to come to the conclusion if Barstow's book is nothing more than a feminist slant on a macabre period in European history. Her book, in my opinion, did tend to focus only on women who were accused of witchcraft. I can't say if this is right or wrong. I only have the unscientific knowledge of these events from Hollywood movies stored in my memory.
All I can say is I found the book's description of the women who were burned at the stake horrible and cruel. It just goes to show you man has changed very little and makes me more of a believer that "might makes right" which is why these atrocities have stopped.
Go ahead and read the book and judge for yourselves. I found it, at the minimum, to be a good primer on the subject.
The worst aspect of this book, though, is that it is chock-full of blatant ethnic and sexual stereotyping. Spain didn't kill many Witches because Spaniards are too chivalrous to do that. Doctors accused wise-women of Witchcraft because male and female healers are "natural enemies". (Barstow quickly glosses over the fact that wise-women did this too -- she certainly doesn't suggest that women were each other's "natural enemies"!) I strongly recommend people to avoid this book. Some of the information is accurate, but you can get better info -- without the stereotyping.
The Maleficius (handbook for persecuting witches) does not implicate male sexuality as a reason for torturing them, as it consistantly implicates women's sexuality. It does not mention how to 'recognize' male witches, but it begins from the premise that women 'live by the moon and so are able to draw the hearts of men toward the pagans,' and thus, witches are women because only they were 'weak' enough to fall prey to the devil. Interesting, isn't it, how the artists and writers of the period always portray witches as women, from Shakespeare to Holbein? Don't blame Anne Barstow, just look for the overwhelming pattern, as she has done.
That said, there are a few weaknesses in the book. One, although she tries to nail the number of those killed, she still comes up short. Anecdotally, I visited the town of Osnabruck, Germany, this summer and discovered their numbers of murders of women were around 400, give or take, from two eras of persecution in the 16th and 17th Centuries. I returned home to check Witch Craze, and Osnabruck never made it into the index. It's numbers of dead are not included, though it is common knowledge to anyone who visits the tourist center. Huh? What else was left out?
Nor does Barstow adequately plumb the numbers who were tortured and maimed and then released, or those who died in custody. She does not draw a line from the witch persecutions to the rise of the legal profession.Read more ›
Fortunatly, I picked up the book cheaply and didn't have to use it for a class. I think that the idea was appealing, but the execution of the work fell very short.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm a little disturbed by the reviews on here stating the obvious fact that this book is solely based on gender and that apparently is a problem? Read morePublished 11 months ago by Larissa Marcano
a eye awakening history of witchcraft as pertaining Europe. its part of my history searching topics that I am surrounded by and never knew the real story. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Lil Bear
Anne Llewellyn Barstow, Witchcraze (HarperCollins, 1994)
[originally posted 11Jul2001]
I mentioned on a discussion board a couple of weeks ago that I'd started this... Read more
excellent book, the stupid fools actually kept records of burning women that were witches in Europe, they killed women because they actually cured people, it's a book a transcriptsPublished on February 19, 2014 by Jennifer Ames
This book enlightens the truth and scandle of witchcraft accusations. It's a really good book about the issues women faced.Published on October 9, 2012 by M. Mayfield
I can't begin to explain my disappointment with this book. What was I thinking? Buying a book specifically written from a very vocal feminist's perspective is going to give one a... Read morePublished on July 22, 2007 by Lisa Marie
This was an interesting book and definitely got me started down the whole path of researching the european witch hunts. Read morePublished on July 7, 2007 by Heather
Barstow's history examines feminist concerns relating to the witch hunts without succumbing to a prejudicial bias. Read morePublished on October 23, 2006 by E. Carmichael