Witches in America

ConversazioniHistory: On learning from and writing history

Iscriviti a LibraryThing per pubblicare un messaggio.

Witches in America

Questa conversazione è attualmente segnalata come "addormentata"—l'ultimo messaggio è più vecchio di 90 giorni. Puoi rianimarla postando una risposta.

Modificato: Ott 30, 2015, 11:39 am

Everyone has their own spheres of interest, and one of my main ones is the behavior of crowds, mobs, or even small groups. Maybe election time is an especially good time to take a look at crowd behavior past.

I have just started reading the
The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff.

Arthur Miller of course examined crowd behavior in The Crucible 1967 which was viewed by many as an allegory to the 1950s' anti-communist witch hunts.

Interesting background reading for the topic can be found at the following places

Salem trials

Salem witchcraft

In France, the Valais witch trials

Crowd psychology

Herd behavior


Ott 30, 2015, 1:57 pm

For a modern day study, Not in Kansas Anymore.

Ott 30, 2015, 5:55 pm

For another play on the point try Tom Stoppard's "The Lady's Not For Burning" Higher quality verbal fireworks in my opinion.

Nov 2, 2015, 2:25 pm

Well if anyone thinks that ergot induced hallucinations could have been involved you might want to read Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream. Of course if you have tried LSD or Ecstasy in the past you likely have enough background to decide.

Nov 2, 2015, 2:49 pm

The best book I've read on the Salem witch craziness was Salem Possessed, which examined the whole business from a socio-economic viewpoint--doing things like examining where accusers and the accused lived, what their relative wealth was, and so on and revealed a lot of very interesting information that might have been behind the accusations.

Modificato: Nov 2, 2015, 4:15 pm

I am just beginning to wade my way through this book and I should say at the outset that so far I believe the NYT had it right in its review...


We all have a tall enough stack of TBR as it is. At this point in time I would not suggest your adding this book to that stack.

I have not read the author's other books such as Cleopatra: A Life. Both this and that subject have very little primary source material, which did not in either case prevent her from carrying on with the chosen topic.

Her frequent glibness and flights of fancy may appeal to some although not to me.

Nov 2, 2015, 4:56 pm

>6 Marissa_Doyle: It looks like Salem Possessed might be the one I heard the author being interviewed. Very interesting about the commerce and land ownership relationships they discovered.

Nov 2, 2015, 5:36 pm

I saw Stacy Shiff interviewed on her book The Witches: Salem, 1692on CSPAN and she was very effective. In fact she was far more interesting than the book, so far.

Nov 2, 2015, 6:26 pm

>7 Urquhart: I read her article on Salem in The New Yorker a while back, and wasn't particularly impressed. Thank you for corroborating that impression--I think I'll skip this one.

Nov 2, 2015, 9:18 pm

My thanks to you as well.

I had such great hopes for this book and was on the library reserve request line a month early, prior to its publication.

Added to that disappointment is that I find the topic of crowd behavior cut short. It is such an important topic and it needs to be discussed, but this book simply is not the diving board for delving into this topic.

Nov 4, 2015, 9:50 pm

Salem Possessed has been on my TBR for a while after I got a chance to borrow a copy many years ago.

The topic is especially interesting because my mother's ancestors are from Salem Town and Salem Village, the latter being the site of the 1692 witch trials and hangings. According to family tradition, we're descended from the Putnam family portrayed in The Crucible, although I think it must have been another contemporary Salemite with the same name.