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Six Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the…
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Six Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the Accused and Their Accusers in… (2013)

by Marilynne K. Roach

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Absolutely fascinating. The sheer amount of research in here must have taken a lifetime of work from the author. Roach manages to bring the townships, hamlets and all their population to life. I can honestly say that I have never read anything so deeply researched that brings the era alive in all its frightening glory. Resentments and squabbles between the townsfolk resulted in many people, some of them devoted, old folk being brought to trial for witchcraft. The way these people are dealt with is frightening from the speed of prosecution to the gullibility of the jury. An horrific and tragic period of American history seems to play out before the readers eyes as Roach describes each persecutor, accuser and accused in chilling detail. If you have any interest in the Salem witch trials at all, read this book. I am in awe of Roach's research skills. ( )
  bibliobeck | Apr 29, 2014 |
I love knowing the facts along with the fiction. Six Women of Salem is written in this fun way. We follow the history of six of the women inundated with the trials, Tituba, Rebecca Nurse, Ann Putnam, Mary Warren, Bridget Bishop and Mary English.
I loved that there were bits of fiction mixed in with the historical facts in this book. Marilynne took the liberty to write the women's thoughts at certain points to intersect with the historical records. A lot of research was done for this book from the remaining records. This was insightful and intriguing, seeing quotes from the accused, accusers and judges. I knew some of the political troubles that might have spurred some accusations, but this book goes farther into personal squabbles, religious issues, war, women's rights, racial issues and possible physiological issues that might have spurred the hysteria. I was really interested in the story of Tituba; the historical records are quite different than most fictional accounts. Overall, a great historical record of the Salem Witch Trials for anyone who would like to dig deeper into the subject. ( )
  Mishker | Apr 20, 2014 |
Six Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the Accused and Their Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials by Marilynne K. Roach is a 2013 De Capo Press publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book is a non- fiction account of six of the most commonly known people mentioned during the Salem Witch Trials. With the unique idea of spotlighting the accused and the accusers as well one that fell into both categories, the book details the personal lives of those involved and outlines the type of thinking and superstitions of the era. A short story written in italics begins each chapter and those short pieces are fictional. However, the trials are at the core of the book and most of focus in on this area of history.
The first part of the book is a little dry with a lot of dates and geneology which could be very interesting for hardcore history enthusiast. For those who would rather just get to the juicy parts, you really could skip over part one and start on part two . From that point on the story flows much easier and is very interesting. I have always found this period of time fascinating and I keep my eyes peeled for books that are reputable and well researched that deal with this topic. It is very clear this author wanted to move away from the Hollywood themes and did an incredible amount of research. I don't know if I have read an account like this one before. So much focus is on the girls making the accusations, the reasons why they made them, and the absolute hysteria that followed, that the trials only get a cursory glance, so I found the book educational and revealing.
It is hard for many of us to read history books that are written in this manner. I wonder if the author added the brief fictional stories in an effort to off set the classroom history type format the rest of the book contained. It can get a little dull at times and it has taken me a while to get through this one. I just put it down and read something else for day or so and then picked this one back up. I'm glad I was allowed access to this book via Netgalley and I do wish more books written on this subject had less of the "Crucible" type focus and placed more emphasis on this type of material. This is such a strange time in our history and it's still so shocking. I would like to say we learned something from The Salem Witch Trials, but sadly it seems history has repeated itself in one form or another in this same way.
This one is a 4 star rating. ( )
  gpangel | Apr 18, 2014 |
The accused and the accusers

Six Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the Accused and Their Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials by Marilynne K. Roach (Da Capo Press, $18.99)

I’ve read a number of histories of the Salem witch trials—not to mention an equal number of literary works that addressed the accusation and trials—over the years. Some examine the rise of religious tribalism as a response to the presence of non-Puritan religious groups nearby; some take a feminist look at the power structure; I recall one that looked at the connections between property ownership by women and which women were accused of witchcraft and several that examined Salem through the perspective of other historical outbreaks of mass hysteria.

As for literary approaches, I’ve read everything from Arthur Miller’s famous parable about paranoia to several novels that take for their premise the presence of actual witches/demons (but not among the accused, usually!), and a recent book that suggested an outbreak of ergot poisoning to explain the witch hunt.

What Marilynne K. Roach has done is narrow the focus to only six members of the community, women who number among the accused and the “victims” of witchcraft. This allows readers to see some subtle differences in their places in the community and the various stressors on them. She also adds first-person narration, constructed from what she imagines the women in question to have experienced. This could be dicey—and it certainly presumes an ability to shed contemporary bias—but it works, and makes this an interesting addition to the books available on this historical chapter.

(Published on Lit/Rant on 1/26/2014: http://litrant.tumblr.com/post/74597590554/the-accused-and-the-accusers-six-wome...) ( )
  KelMunger | Mar 10, 2014 |
This book explores the lives of six women involved in the Salem witch trials. I had a hard time enjoying this book. I found Part 1 to be a bit dry and boring. The author would begin by telling one story and then drift off into another before getting back to the original person. I found this a bit maddening and highly annoying. The storytelling aspects of the story were great, but unfortunately that was only a small part of each chapter. ( )
  JanaRose1 | Oct 28, 2013 |
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Book description
Six Women of Salem is the first work to use the lives of a select number of representative women as a microcosm to illuminate the larger crisis of the Salem witch trials. By the end of the trials, beyond the twenty who were executed and the five who perished in prison, 207 individuals had been accused, 74 had been “afflicted,” 32 had officially accused their fellow neighbors, and 255 ordinary people had been inexorably drawn into that ruinous and murderous vortex, and this doesn't include the religious, judicial, and governmental leaders. All this adds up to what the Rev. Cotton Mather called “a desolation of names.”

The individuals involved are too often reduced to stock characters and stereotypes when accuracy is sacrificed to indignation. And although the flood of names and detail in the history of an extraordinary event like the Salem witch trials can swamp the individual lives involved, individuals still deserve to be remembered and, in remembering specific lives, modern readers can benefit from such historical intimacy. By examining the lives of six specific women, Marilynne Roach shows readers what it was like to be present throughout this horrific time and how it was impossible to live through it unchanged.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0306821206, Paperback)

Six Women of Salem is the first work to use the lives of a select number of representative women as a microcosm to illuminate the larger crisis of the Salem witch trials. By the end of the trials, beyond the twenty who were executed and the five who perished in prison, 207 individuals had been accused, 74 had been “afflicted,” 32 had officially accused their fellow neighbors, and 255 ordinary people had been inexorably drawn into that ruinous and murderous vortex, and this doesn’t include the religious, judicial, and governmental leaders. All this adds up to what the Rev. Cotton Mather called “a desolation of names.”

The individuals involved are too often reduced to stock characters and stereotypes when accuracy is sacrificed to indignation. And although the flood of names and detail in the history of an extraordinary event like the Salem witch trials can swamp the individual lives involved, individuals still deserve to be remembered and, in remembering specific lives, modern readers can benefit from such historical intimacy. By examining the lives of six specific women, Marilynne Roach shows readers what it was like to be present throughout this horrific time and how it was impossible to live through it unchanged.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:03 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"What was it like to be there and, if you were lucky, to live through it? In a compelling combination of narrative and groundbreaking historical research, Salem Witch Trial scholar Marilynne K. Roach vividly brings the terrifying times to life while skillfully illuminating the lives of the accused, the accusers, and the afflicted."--Back cover.… (more)

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