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Death in Salem: The Private Lives behind the 1692 Witch Hunt

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Exploring the tragic personal side of Salem's witchcraft frenzy The 1692 Salem witch trials will always have a magnetic pull on the American psyche. The accusations against more than 150 people that year, and the execution of twenty, have come to epitomize mass hysteria, and the episode has become a prism through which we have sought to understand modern-day "witch hunts." It is a moment in history all of us know—or do we? An estimated twenty-five million Americans—including author Diane E. Foulds—are descended ...
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Death in Salem: The Private Lives behind the 1692 Witch Hunt

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Overview

Exploring the tragic personal side of Salem's witchcraft frenzy The 1692 Salem witch trials will always have a magnetic pull on the American psyche. The accusations against more than 150 people that year, and the execution of twenty, have come to epitomize mass hysteria, and the episode has become a prism through which we have sought to understand modern-day "witch hunts." It is a moment in history all of us know—or do we? An estimated twenty-five million Americans—including author Diane E. Foulds—are descended from those executed. What really happened to our ancestors? Death in Salem takes a uniquely clear-eyed look at this complex time, by examining the grueling and often tragic personal lives of the leading players—from the "bewitched" girls to the innocents they charged, the pastors who encouraged them, and the magistrates who believed them. . .
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A 10th-generation descendent of one of the victims of the 1692 witch trials, Foulds (Curious New England) adds to an already well-stocked repertoire in this who's-who of Salem witchcraft. Heavy on facts, though light on narrative flair, Foulds breaks her account into sections of each group involved in the hunts, from the accusers to the clergy and judges. These biographical sketches of recorded participants are laid out in personal detail, each one building upon and backing up its predecessor. Readers will learn how neglected 17-year-old girls planted a fear that reached to the spiritual and judicial leaders of their community. Together, these compact portraits paint a familiar picture of a repressed and paranoid society in the midst of chaotic change. Unfortunately, while the introductions to each section provide comprehensive background information, the entries devoted to describing the Salem villagers' lives tend to devolve into lists of marriages, political connections, pending civil suits, and familial lore, leaving the narrative feeling fragmented. The author's inability to weed out the unessential details can make for a frustrating read, but those interested in the subject will be fascinated by the close look into the lives of the players who shaped this chaotic time in our history. (Aug. 2010)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762759095
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/3/2010
  • Edition description: First
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Diane E. Foulds, a tenth-generation descendent one of those hanged in Salem in 1692, is the author of three books, including Curious New England and Vermont: An Explorer’s Guide. Her articles have appeared in the Boston Globe, Washington Post, and Yankee magazine.
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Read an Excerpt

Death in Salem

The Private Lives behind the 1692 Witch Hunt
By Diane E. Foulds

Globe Pequot

Copyright © 2010 Diane E. Foulds
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780762759095

From chapter 1, “The Accusers”
With so much resting on intangibles, it’s little wonder that the young women of Salem Village indulged in occasional fortune-telling. . . .
So what a relief it must have been in 1692, when a physician cleared them of guilt by proclaiming them the victims of sorcery. . . . Girls who had been bored and neglected now found themselves pitied and awed, even deferred to, until the game got out of hand. Before they knew it, distracted children were sending innocents to their deaths.
. . . What had started with a few tremulous girls evolved into a cathartic exorcism engaging every segment of the community. As the following profiles reveal, the pent-up hostilities that fueled it went far deeper than anyone might have guessed.

Continues...

Excerpted from Death in Salem by Diane E. Foulds Copyright © 2010 by Diane E. Foulds. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2011

    WISH I'D FOUND THIS SOONER!

    I just finished reading this excellent book and it will save me from reading dozens of others. I have a relative who was involved in the Salem mess, but I never really understood the dynamics of the whole affair. This book lays it all out and gives a lot of satisfying information about the players involved, including my ancestor. I've done enough general reading on the subject to appreciate how well researched this is. It is full of hard to find facts. I read it cover to cover, but it occurs to me that is an excellent reference book and can be read a bit at a time, and not necessarily in order. A real find and a keeper. (Joss Wald)

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2013

    Great book, sad story

    The witch trials were the result of christian ignorance. They were the true evil in Salem. Maybe someday there will no longer be christians..........I hope the human race progresses beyond the need for religion.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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