During the bleak winter of 1692 in the rigid Puritan community of Salem Village, Massachusetts, a group of young girls began experiencing violent fits, allegedly tormented by Satan and the witches who worshipped him. From the girls' initial denouncing of an Indian slave, the accusations soon multiplied. In less than two years, nineteen men and women were hanged, one was pressed to death, and over a hundred others were imprisoned and impoverished. This evenhanded and now-classic history illuminates the horrifying episode with visceral clarity, from the opportunistic Putnam clan, who fanned the crisis to satisfy personal vendettas and greed, to four-year-old "witch" Dorcas Good, who was chained to a dank prison wall in darkness till she went mad. By placing the distant period of the Salem witch trials in the larger context of more contemporary eruptions of mass hysteria and intolerance, the author has created a work as thought-provoking as it is emotionally powerful.
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This compelling study of the horrific Salem Witch Trials--the first of its kind in over forty-five years--draws strength from new psychological insights into the roots of the hysteria that spurred the witch hunts of the late 1600s, and links them to the contemporary "witch hunts" of the twentieth century.
For more than three hundred years, the hysteria that gripped Massachusetts during the Salem witch trials of the late 1600s has fascinated readers worldwide. Now acclaimed British writer Frances Hill has applied contemporary psychology to the Salem phenomenon and come up with startling results. Why were nearly all of the "afflicted" people women? What kind of mentality did the Puritans possess to place a four-year-old child in prison? What were the politics behind the witch hunts and trials, and what similarities exist in the witch hunts of the twentieth century (for example, the "witch hunts" of the McCarthy era)? In A Delusion Of Satan, Frances Hill answers these questions and many more in a conversational and frighteningly realistic narrative as she maps out details of the witch trials and subsequent hangings-information never revealed before. Discipline, morality, and intellectual rigor-these are all attributes that Puritanism bequeathed to the New World. Unfortunately, along with them came a tendency to regard an enemy as beneath empathy and deserving destruction. A Delusion Of Satan reminds the reader that these impulses, lurking in all people, can only be countered by constant reminders of common humanity.About the Author:
Frances Hill, an accomplished journalist and novelist, has written The Salem Witch Trials Reader and Deliverance from Evil. She lives in London but visits the United States regularly, spending every summer in Connecticut.
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Book Description Penguin, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0140257942