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A Delusion of Satan: The Full Story of the Salem Witch Trials (1995)

by Frances Hill

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381352,731 (3.7)15
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.… (more)
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In 1692, hundreds of people in Massachusetts were accused of witchcraft. 18 were hanged for it, and one was pressed to death when he refused to speak at his own trial. Frances Hill takes a close look at exactly what happened in this Puritan-settled area to allow this to happen.

This was really good. There is so much detail in this book. It starts off by describing the kind of world these Puritans lived in, the politics that was happening at the time as Salem Village was trying to separate from Salem Town, and more. There is quite a bit of information Hill brings forth about the “afflicted” girls and their lives and families, as well as the lives of the accused, some of whom were elderly and/or very upstanding members of the community and in the church. With so many people (afflicted and accused) added as it goes on, it can get a little confusing as to who’s who later in the book, but overall, it’s still very good and well worth the read. ( )
  LibraryCin | Jul 15, 2019 |
This is an excellent account of the Salem Witch Trials, a book I would recommend to anyone interested in the subject. Beyond recording and analyzing the events of 1692/1693, the author draws interesting paralles to our modern-day witch hunts. There is a timeline at the back of the book (perhaps this should be in the front), which is helpful as Hill tends to skip back and forth in time, which might be confusing for some readers, although it didn't bother me. My one criticism is that while there are copious notes, they are not annotated, a pet hate of mine; otherwise I would have rated it higher. ( )
  SabinaE | Jan 23, 2016 |
This was a pretty good book. Inclusive. Tended to skip around a bit, which was really confusing when you were in the middle of the trials and suddenly had to stop to hear the life story of Reverend So-and-so, but it provided thorough, logical reasoning and was overall a good resource. She kept referencing other books I had never heard of, which was kind of annoying, but it proved she had done her research! ( )
  jerenda | Jan 20, 2016 |
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Frances Hillprimary authorall editionscalculated
Armstrong, KarenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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