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In the Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692 (2002)

av Mary Beth Norton

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
7351722,498 (3.99)47
In January 1692 in Salem Village, Massachusetts, two young girls began to suffer from inexplicable fits. Seventeen months later, after legal action had been taken against 144 people, 20 of them put to death, the ignominious Salem witchcraft trials finally came to an end. Mary Beth Norton gives us a unique account of the events at Salem, helping us to understand them as they were understood by those who lived through the frenzy. Describing the situation from a seventeenth-century perspective, Norton examines the crucial turning points, the accusers, the confessors, the judges, and the accused, among whom were thirty-eight men. She shows how the situation spiraled out of control following a cascade of accusations beginning in mid-April. She explores the role of gossip and delves into the question of why women and girls under the age of twenty-five, who were the most active accusers and who would normally be ignored by male magistrates, were suddenly given absolute credence. Norton moves beyond the immediate vicinity of Salem to demonstrate how the Indian wars on the Maine frontier in the last quarter of that century stunned the collective mindset of northeastern New England and convinced virtually everyone that they were in the devil's snare. And she makes clear that ultimate responsibility for allowing the crisis to reach the heights it did must fall on the colony's governor, council, and judges.… (mer)
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Visa 1-5 av 17 (nästa | visa alla)
2.5 stars

In addition to looking at the accusations and trials of the “witches” in the Salem, Mass. area in the late 17th century, this author looks at other things happening in the area at the time to see if there is a connection. Specifically, the First and Second Indian Wars happened in the years leading up to the witch accusations and trials.

I do find the Salem witches an interesting topic, but a number of nonfiction books I’ve read about it (including this one) have not held my interest. I do find it hard, sometimes, to read books with a lot of quotations from other sources, and this one (and other books on this topic) has a lot of that. ( )
  LibraryCin | Aug 6, 2020 |
Scholarly, thoughtful analysis reveals a larger pattern of who fell victim to the Salem Witch Hunt. ( )
  LaurelPoe | Dec 25, 2017 |
In In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692, Mary Beth Norton argues, “The witchcraft crisis of 1692 can be comprehended only in the context of nearly two decades of armed conflict between English settlers and the New England Indians in both southern and northern portions of the region” (pg. 12). She further writes, “As in no other event in American history until the rise of the women’s rights movement in the nineteenth century, women took center stage at Salem: they were the major instigators and victims of a remarkable public spectacle” (pg. 4). Returning to her argument, Norton writes, “The histories of King William’s War, King Philip’s War (its equally brutal predecessor in the 1670s), and the Salem witchcraft crisis are intricately intertwined. In the Devil’s Snare explicates those links through what has evolved into a dual narrative of war and witchcraft” (pg. 5). Discussing the interconnectedness of Massachusetts and Maine farmers, Norton writes, “Gossip thus serves as a leitmotif” (pg. 6). Responding to the historiography’s attempt to discuss the differences between Salem and other witchcraft crises, Norton writes, “To explain these anomalies it is necessary to abandon the intense focus on Salem Village common to most studies and to place the witchcraft crisis in the broader context of Essex County and northern New England” (pg. 11). Further, “The consequences were all the more devastating because they happened twice in quick succession: war broke out again just as refugees who had originally fled Maine in 1676 had successfully reestablished themselves and were once more expanding their settlements” (pg. 11). ( )
  DarthDeverell | Sep 18, 2017 |
This was very interesting but way too long and too scholarly for me. I wish it had been an article. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
This book was a fail for me. I'm sure that Mary Beth Norton is the master of her material, but she failed to present in a manner that would make her mastery accessible to the average reader.
She has masses of detail, which can be fine, but maybe a little bit more care in providing context and background would work better.
I fell off the horse about 10% through the book. Maybe I'll return when I have a lot of time and few books more attractive in the reading queue.
Partly read Sept 2016 ( )
  mbmackay | Oct 29, 2016 |
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In January 1692 in Salem Village, Massachusetts, two young girls began to suffer from inexplicable fits. Seventeen months later, after legal action had been taken against 144 people, 20 of them put to death, the ignominious Salem witchcraft trials finally came to an end. Mary Beth Norton gives us a unique account of the events at Salem, helping us to understand them as they were understood by those who lived through the frenzy. Describing the situation from a seventeenth-century perspective, Norton examines the crucial turning points, the accusers, the confessors, the judges, and the accused, among whom were thirty-eight men. She shows how the situation spiraled out of control following a cascade of accusations beginning in mid-April. She explores the role of gossip and delves into the question of why women and girls under the age of twenty-five, who were the most active accusers and who would normally be ignored by male magistrates, were suddenly given absolute credence. Norton moves beyond the immediate vicinity of Salem to demonstrate how the Indian wars on the Maine frontier in the last quarter of that century stunned the collective mindset of northeastern New England and convinced virtually everyone that they were in the devil's snare. And she makes clear that ultimate responsibility for allowing the crisis to reach the heights it did must fall on the colony's governor, council, and judges.

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