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Witchcraft at Salem
ISBN 0807604925 / 9780807604922 / 0-8076-0492-5
Publisher George Braziller Inc
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Much has been written about the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692, and much misunderstood. "The more I studied the documents of what actually took place in the community," writes Chadwick Hansen, "the more I found myself in opposition to the traditional interpretations. It seemed to me that a serious consideration was in order." He argues, for instance, that witchcraft was actually practiced in seventeenth-century New England, as it was in Europe at the time. Moreover, the behavior of the afflicted persons was not fraudulent, as some have claimed, but pathological; these people were hysterics in the clinical rather than the popular sense of the term. Further still, the clergy did not inspire or take advantage of the witch hunts as has been charged; on the contrary, they were among the chief opponents of "mass hysteria." In "Witchcraft at Salem" Hansen provides a necessary and thoughtful reappraisal of this turbulent episode in American history. [via]