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The Enemy Within: A Short History of Witch-Huntingby John Demos
Synopses & Reviews
A cultural history of witch-hunting, from the Romans through McCarthy
The term awitch-hunta is used today to describe everything from political scandals to school board shake-ups. But its origins are far from trivial. Long before the Salem witch trials, women and men were rounded up by neighbors, accused of committing horrific crimes using supernatural powers, scrutinized by priests and juries, and promptly executed. The belief in witchcraft--and the deep fear of evil it instilled in communities--led to a cycle of accusation, anger, and purging that has occurred repeatedly in the West for centuries.
Award-winning historian John Demos puts this cultural paranoia in context. He takes readers from the early Christians persecuted in Rome through the Salem witch trials, McCarthyas hunt for communists, and the hysteria around child sex-abuse cases and satanic cults in the 1980s.
An original and fascinating look at the cultural, societal, and psychological practice of witch-hunts, The Enemy Within illuminates the dark side of communities driven to rid themselves of aevil, a no matter what the cost.
Award-winning historian Demos offers a cultural history of witch-hunting, from the Romans through the McCarthy era, in this original and fascinating work that illuminates the dark side of communities driven to rid themselves of evil, no matter what the cost.
With the vision of a historian and the voice of a novelist, prize?winning author John Demos explores the social, cultural, and psychological roots of the scourge that is witch-hunting, both in the remote past and today. The Enemy Within chronicles the most prominent witch-hunts of the Western world?women and men who were targeted by suspicious neighbors and accused of committing horrific crimes by supernatural means?and shows how the fear of witchcraft has fueled recurrent cycles of accusation, persecution, and purging. A unique and fascinating book, it illumines the dark side of communities driven to rid themselves of perceived evil, no matter what the human cost.
About the Author
"There is no one better qualified to tell these stories and write a general history of witch-hunting than John Demos."
-The Boston Globe
" No scholar has done more to illuminate the terrifying psychology of witchcraft in Western culture than John Demos. The Enemy Within is a masterful synthesis of this phenomenon."
-David Oshinsky, author of Polio: An American Story, winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in history
" Demos compresses events over two millennia . . . with minimal grisliness, a spirited style, and by hanging enough historical wallpaper for a newcomer to the subject to feel at home."
-The Seattle Times
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