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

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

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by Diane Foulds
     
 

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Salem witchcraft will always have a magnetic pull on the American psyche. During the 1692 witch trials, more than 150 people were arrested. An estimated 25 million Americans—including author Diane Foulds—are descended from the twenty individuals executed. What happened to our ancestors? Death in Salem is the first book to take a clear-eyed look at

Overview

Salem witchcraft will always have a magnetic pull on the American psyche. During the 1692 witch trials, more than 150 people were arrested. An estimated 25 million Americans—including author Diane Foulds—are descended from the twenty individuals executed. What happened to our ancestors? Death in Salem is the first book to take a clear-eyed look at this complex time, by examining the lives of the witch trial participants from a personal perspective.  

 

Massachusetts settlers led difficult lives; every player in the Salem drama endured hardships barely imaginable today. Mercy Short, one of the “bewitched” girls, watched as Indians butchered her parents; Puritan minister Cotton Mather outlived all but three of his fifteen children. Such tragedies shaped behavior and, as Foulds argues, ultimately played a part in the witch hunt’s outcome. A compelling “who’s who” to Salem witchcraft, Death in Salem profiles each of these historical personalities as it asks: Why was this person targeted?

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)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780762766406
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
08/06/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
231,661
File size:
736 KB

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.

Meet the Author

Diane E. Foulds has spent almost a decade researching 17th-century Massachusetts. She is the author of three books: VERMONT: An Explorer's Guide (Countryman Press/Norton, 2004, 2009), CURIOUS NEW ENGLAND (University Press of New England, 2003, 2005; Bookscan RTD 6863 across both editions), and A GUIDE TO CZECH & SLOVAK GLASS (European Community Imports, Prague, 1993, 1995). She has worked as a foreign correspondent and White House reporter, lived in five European countries, and written extensively on New England topics for the Boston Globe. Her articles have appeared in UPI, The Washington Post, Yankee magazine, and numerous other publications, and she also has on-camera interview experience. She is a tenth-generation descendent of one hanged in Salem in 1692.

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Death in Salem: The Private Lives behind the 1692 Witch Hunt 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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)
Anonymous 11 months ago
I am a high school sophomore and I read this book for my English research project. I thought this book was very interesting in keeping my attention throughout. I thought it was very nice that the author went into great detail about the people that were involved in the trials. For example, I liked how the author did not only talk about what happened to the people involved at the time of the trials, but also what happened to them before and after the trials. I very much enjoyed the conclusion of the book. My only negative comment about the book was I wish the author had put more historical facts and information about the trials instead of just talking about what had happened to the people involved in the trials. I liked the fact that I didn't necessarily have to read the book in order and I could go back and easily find information. Overall, I am glad I chose this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago