Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Non-Fiction: Death in Salem: The Private Lives Behind the 1692 Witch Hunt by Diane E. Foulds

In some ways Death in Salem (Globe Pequot) does not stand alone. There are more complete books -- and more scholarly ones -- on the Salem Witch Trials. That said, though, journalist Diane E. Foulds casts her eyes on the players rather than the play itself. It makes for interesting reading.

Over 150 people were arrested for the 1692 witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts. Twenty of those were executed. Author Foulds is one of an estimated 25 million Americans descended from that half score of individuals, which goes a long way toward explaining the ongoing fascination with the events that unfolded in 17th-century America. One of those moments in history that makes you wonder, “How did this happen?"

Foulds’ book answers that in no way at all. In fact, it doesn’t really answer anything. What it does is bring us portraits as intimate as possible from this historical distance of the participants. To further this, the book is broken into appropriate sections: The Accusers; The Victims; The Clergy; The Judges; The Elite. A final concluding section asks, “Did seventeenth-century living conditions predispose English settlers to witch hunts?” Though the question seems beside the point, Foulds does a credible job of answering it.

Those with an interest in this period and the events under discussion here will find a fresh and fascinating glimpse in Foulds’ book. ◊

Monica Stark is a contributing editor of January Magazine. She currently makes her home on a liveaboard boat somewhere in the North Pacific.

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1 Comments:

Blogger The Afflicted Girls said...

Hi Monica,
If you're interested in an explanation of this enduring historical mystery, my book (well-researched historical fiction) finally provides it: THE AFFLICTED GIRLS A Novel of Salem (ISBN: 978-0-615-32313-8). One Salem historian wrote that my novel fills in the gaps that have eluded historians for 300 years. One thing I have done is solved the mystery of what caused thse strange "afflictions", which initially triggered the witch hunt. This is a new theory that has not yet been considered. So I hope you'll take a look at my book. THE AFFLICTED GIRLS won the 2010 IPPY Silver Medal for Historical Fiction (Note: this is adult fiction for readers 17 and older). www.theafflictedgirls.com
Thank you,
Suzy Witten, Author

Tuesday, December 7, 2010 at 10:05:00 AM PST  

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