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The Enemy Within: 2,000 Years of…

The Enemy Within: 2,000 Years of Witch-hunting in the Western World

by John Demos

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It is hard to believe a book about witch hunts could be so incredibly dry and boring.

The last chapter, about "modern witch hunts," is highly problematic as he addresses topics in a few pages that have had their own whole tomes written (Red Scare, McCarthyism, Satanic child abuse in day cares scare). As a result, all nuance is lost and even the accuracy of some claims seemed questionable.

Much better books have been written on this topic. Look elsewhere. ( )
  sparemethecensor | Aug 12, 2015 |
I don't know if I'll finish this one. After all, how many explicit instances does one need to read about before one understands the implicit principle?


It's official: I'm not going to finish it.
  KidSisyphus | Apr 5, 2013 |
"....The American side of witchcraft study has also been reinvigorated...."

*rolls eyes* If only.

Now, when I pick up a book like this, the first thing that I think is: it might make Montague Summers smile.

*Hugh Laurie voice* 'It might make him smile.'

So there's that.

Also, when dealing with the persecution, I rather prefer stuff that isn't anti-craft, and there's alot of that, not least among the "sympathetic" crap.

And it's true that this is something of an improvement over, say, "Harry Potter and History", or even "The Crucible", (with Daniel Day-Lewis from "The Last of the Mohicans"!), in a way, but....

I don't know; it's easy to talk about nothing. In anything like this, there's bound to be alot about clergy and stuff, that might make Marxists smile--

'It might make them smile'

.... if they even bother to care, which is not entirely a given. To them, even "The Crucible" about the 50s. The awful, *awful* 50s, back when *zero* witches were executed in England, and last Witchcraft Act was taken *off* the statute-books....

And, yeah, there's alot of stuff before 1951, sure.

I'm sure that I went through at least one or two books about this sort of thing, before I found this one, which at least rises to a certain level of mediocrity.... not unlike the 50s!

*'It's like a ray of sunshine, on a cloudy day.'*

(50s magazine: "Marriage is fun!" Space-age witch: *shrugs* Juno is my friend.)

.... It's just, so much about what, sometimes. So easy to write a book about the clergy, basically....

I don't know. It's a little scatter-brained and weird, at times. So much, just for the paper, and the ink.

*still Hugh Laurie voice* 'They could build, monuments, to your self-centeredness.'

And Heaven knows that there have never been any *inside sources* that were scatter-brained and weird....

And, without trying to make it sound like I'm tossing the ball to-- "Sunday Bloody Sunday with Daniel Day-Lewis"!-- there are some stories that can only be told from the inside....

From the outside, it's just....

Scatter-brained and weird, basically.

'But I would also like a chapter about doctors. If you can talk about Cotton Mather, then why not me?'

'Who da man? I da man'

'Oh snap.'

So, yeah. It's scatter-brained and weird. *But very neat*.

But I suppose that at an appropriate level of abstraction, it all makes sense.

{Scatter-brained, weird, scholar. *clapclapclap*}



In books like this, the preface is always the personal bit, I think....

But after that, it's usually pretty inconsiderate, and even careless, that skeptic's rudeness, you know, it sorta defaults to that....

".... with some indie record that's much cooler than mine...."

So that's disappointing.

Because even when they're not writing monographs, it's always.... I don't know. Milton Friedman's writing is somewhat better than most 'technical'-- in the broad sense, you know-- writing, but, I don't know.... I just get tired of it being like I'm listening to my brother's friend (whom I call) Matrix....

So that's disappointing.

So, yeah, I think that we're finally through, Clio.

"We, are never ever ever, getting back together....

You go to talk to your friends talk to my friends, talk to me....

We, are never ever ever, getting back together...."

And if you want to know about the persecution, if you want to know the truth, you ought to just go to listen "Bloodied Yet Unbowed", by Primordial.

{Mercury, that's funny, but it's still true....}

(7/10) ( )
  Tullius22 | Sep 30, 2012 |
A very solid history of witchcraft in America. In spite of the subtitle, the first 1600+ years of witch hunting are only lightly treated. Most of the focus of the book is on American witch hunting. The author does do a reasonably thorough treatment of the most famous, the Salem witch trials, but spends a good deal of time on earlier (and a few later) trials and "panics", as well. He is an entertaining writer, able to bring personality to the individuals involved, rather than just a dry recitation of details. He wraps up the account by looking at some more modern day "witch hunts", and evaluating where they converge and where they diverge from traditional witch hunts. Overall, an enjoyable read and a valuable history lesson. ( )
  Devil_llama | Sep 5, 2011 |
Looking back from the vantage point of the world today, it seems almost inconceivable that such things as witch-crazes and mass witch-hunting could still occur and the fact that they did occur is often puzzling. Yet if we delve a little deeper at what witch-hunting truly means and its role in society, it becomes clear that not only is it imaginable but also that it could reappear at any time. Witch-hunting is not simply the hunting of witches; it is the ousting of the other in our midst and the affirmation of what the current culture deems appropriate and desirable. Viewed in this way, we can see modern day examples of witches and their hunters by another name.

John Demos, a renowned history scholar, is particularly well-suited to process and synthesize the history of knowledge on witch-hunting and the more recent incarnations of the practice. Hunting witches, he tells readers, begins closest to home, and accusers are often neighbors of the accused. In a way, to designate someone as a witch is a simple way to call attention to their behaviors that are undesirable. To execute them is to execute that behavior found offensive.

The author chronicles the history of witch-hunting through this lens of extracting the other and establishing standards of society, and it becomes increasingly clear how these hunts and executions could have happened. After the Enlightenment, we may have moved away from using the term witch to castigate, but the practice of hunting down and ousting remains in many forms to the present time. Demos illustrates his point through more modern day hunts of the Freemasons, Bavarian Illuminati, Haymarket activism, the Great Red Scare, McCarthyism, and child sex-abuse cases. In the witch-hunting cases of the past as well as with the more modern examples, there are recurring themes that emerge that help us to make sense of these incidents: conspiracy, secrecy, large scope, fundamentally subversive ends, hidden contaminating means, apocalyptic danger, and negative emotional repercussions.
  Carlie | Nov 14, 2010 |
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To Pen and Tom
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June 1582. In the English town of Chelmsford, half a dozen elderly matrons carefully undress a sawyer's wife named Alice Glasscock and begin a search of her body for "the marks of a witch".
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670019992, Hardcover)

With the vision of a historian and the voice of a novelist, prize?winning author John Demos explores the social, cultural, and psychological roots of the scourge that is witch-hunting, both in the remote past and today. The Enemy Within chronicles the most prominent witch-hunts of the Western world?women and men who were targeted by suspicious neighbors and accused of committing horrific crimes by supernatural means?and shows how the fear of witchcraft has fueled recurrent cycles of accusation, persecution, and purging. A unique and fascinating book, it illumines the dark side of communities driven to rid themselves of perceived evil, no matter what the human cost.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:21 -0400)

A cultural history of witch-hunting, from the Romans through McCarthy. The term witch-hunt is used today to describe everything from political scandals to school board shake-ups. But its origins are far from trivial. Long before the Salem witch trials, women and men were rounded up by neighbors, accused of committing horrific crimes using supernatural powers, scrutinized by priests and juries, and promptly executed. The belief in witchcraft--and the deep fear of evil it instilled in communities--led to a cycle of accusation, anger, and purging that has occurred repeatedly in the West for centuries.… (more)

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