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The Devil in Massachusetts: A Modern Enquiry…
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The Devil in Massachusetts: A Modern Enquiry into the Salem Witch Trials (1949)

by Marion L. Starkey

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3.25 stars

This book was originally published in 1949, and looks at the trials of the Salem witches in 1692.

The book was pretty good. Unfortunately, it just didn't make me want to pick up the book and keep reading. There were times when it was just a little dry for me, even though I am interested in the topic. There are just so many people and events (and accusations!) to keep straight! I think the research was very well done, though. ( )
  LibraryCin | May 3, 2013 |
A modern look at the Salem witch trials. First written in 1949, there is nothing about this book that feels dated except the typeface. The author writes history that reads like a novel, and even though it is a history that many have written before and since, she still brings a new voice and some new information. The dry wit and frequent use of what can only be read as sarcasm actually enhances the book. She focuses a great deal more on the character of the 'witches' than on the accusers, but she does spend a little time building up the tale to its onset with the first calling out of a witch, perhaps with a bit more interpolation than is acceptable in a purely scientific or historical work, as she makes assumptions about what is going through the mind of young Abigail Williams. After the first chapter, though, she pieces together most of her information from the copious records kept of the hearings, the diaries of people in the town, and other contemporary sources, only occasionally straying inside the psyche of the long-dead, and then usually with a disclaimer about what they "might" be thinking or feeling. Overall, a decent way to spend a few days of my reading time. ( )
  quantum_flapdoodle | Apr 4, 2013 |
Religion is dangerous. So are teenage girls. This seems to be the main theme of this book. Starkey has gathered myriad sources on the Salem Witch Trials and managed to put together a cohesive account which is neither dry nor dense. Though written in 1949, it is comprehensible to the modern reader and also fascinating. Starkey has taken great care not to fabricate action or dialogue in order to add drama to her tale; she hardly needs to. She has copied entire sections of dialogue from court reports and detailed diaries of eyewitnesses to the trials.
Starkey also claims in her introduction that she has tried to apply some 'modern psychology' to the major players in the conflict, but I saw little evidence of that. There was definitely some borderline personality disorder among the 'afflicted girls,' most notably Abigail Williams.
Overall, an engaging and informative non-fiction work. ( )
5 vote EmScape | Sep 10, 2009 |
Reviewed July 2006

I never really knew much about this subject but felt I should get some background also it appears to e a required book for SJSU in the colonial history class. I found this book to be very difficult to read not because of the writing style but more because it was extremely difficult to believe that people could be so stupid. They even hung the “guilty” based on no evidence at all. Also difficult to follow are the Quaker names, tons of Mary’s throughout the story, Also the author uses Goody a lot, I think it is a term like Mr. or Mrs. probably has something to do with the word ‘godly’. This is a good book to explain the situation so it is understandable. i would have like a hand-out with the main characters on it just so I could go back and reference them as they enter and exit the story. To imagine that what happened here is mile compared to what Europe had already gone through is difficult to fathom.
16-2006 ( )
  sgerbic | May 8, 2008 |
Starkey uses the now rather dated technique of Freudian analysis (which she cops to right in her title) to inspect the hysteria surrounding the Salem witch trials of 1692. Whether or not this was an appropriate way to study a sordid tale from Puritan times (I don't believe it was), I got the feeling she was trying to inject drama into a story that already had plenty of drama. I would have gotten more out of it had she talked more about the link between Puritans and their homeland of England, and the demons and spirits they brought with them overseas. ( )
  freddiefreddie | Feb 9, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385035098, Paperback)

This historical narrative of the Salem witch trials takes its dialogue from actual trial records but applies modern psychiatric knowledge to the witchcraft hysteria. Starkey's sense of drama also vividly recreates the atmosphere of pity and terror that fostered the evil and suffering of this human tragedy.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:02:48 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Reviews the history of Salem witchcraft in light of modern studies in psychology and spiritualism.

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