Frances Hill,
A Delusion of Satan: The Full Story of the Salem Witch Trials
(Da Capo, 2002)

This is not what I would call a book that you "can't put down," but it is well worth the time spent. This comprehensive account of the Salem witch trials is concerned not only with the historical events, but also delves into the reasons behind what fueled the witch-hunt. The political forces at work are examined in detail, as well as the psychology behind what enabled this tragedy.

Through extensive research, the author reconstructs the environment of self-repression and religious extremism that defined the times. This account reads more like a narrative than a history book. The author includes many interesting asides, such as what the Puritans' days were like, what they ate for their meals and how they lived in general, giving a realistic feel for the era. Her detailed description of the dungeon experience gives you a real appreciation of the cruelty these victims endured.

This is not your tourists' Salem. If you are interested in the real story behind the witchcraft fury, this well researched account recreates the Puritan experience in detail. The summary of key persons, chronology and death toll at the end of the book serves as an excellent reference. Recommended reading for anyone interested in this era.

book review by
Lee Lukaszewicz

30 October 2010

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