The tercentennial of the Salem witchcraft trials--1992--will surely generate a demand for materials on this topic. Robinson supports the current theory involving ``highly placed'' conspirators in the political and religious leadership of Salem, as well as in Boston. The work, however, focuses not on the theory, but rather on the people. It is alive with individuals bursting with emotions, foibles, and hidden agendas. To read this book is to dwell as one amongst them. There is one caveat: the lengthy descriptions of alliances and extended family ties can get overly involved and confusing. Scholars may prefer Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum's Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft ( LJ 8/74) or their Salem Witchcraft Papers (Da Capo, 1977). This book will appeal to the general public who may wish to learn and be entertained without the boring trial accounts or gory details. Recommended for public libraries.-- Suzanne C. Garrison-Terry, Dowl ing Coll. Lib., Oakdale, N.Y.
Three centuries ago in Puritan Massachusetts nearly 200 people were imprisoned, 20 were executed, and eight died in jail during a year of mounting terror. As Robinson shows, a small group of men in Salem Village started the witch hunt as a personal vendetta, after which, with the collusion of high office holders in Boston, the scope of the trials was extended to uphold rigid Puritan religious and moral codes in an age of dawning scientific enlightenment. Fascinating. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)