A Junior Library Guild selection.
Synopses & Reviews
Salem, Massachusetts, 1692.
In a plain meetinghouse, a woman stands before her judges. The accusers, girls and young women, are fervent, overexcited, just on the edge of breaking out into convulsions. The accused is a poor, unpopular woman who had her first child before she was married. As the trial proceeds, the girls begin to wail, tear their clothing, and scream that the woman is hurting them. Some of them expose wounds to the horrified onlookers, holding out the pins that have stabbed them -- pins that have appeared as if by magic. Are the girls acting, or are they really tormented by an unseen evil? Whatever the cause, the nightmare in Salem has begun: The witch trials will eventually claim twenty-five lives, shatter the community, and forever shape the American social conscience.
Acclaimed historian Marc Aronson sifts through the facts, myths, half-truths, misinterpretations, and theories around the Salem witch trials to present us with a vivid narrative of one of the most compelling mysteries in American history. Witch-Hunt is a brilliant book that will stimulate and challenge readers to come to their own conclusions about what really happened during those terrifying months of accusations, trials, and executions.
"Readers will be swept up in this complex mystery and may ultimately be surprised by some of the detective work involved in understanding history." Publishers Weekly
"This is excellent history writing that involves the reader in the excitement of discovery and the thrill of recreating the past." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] legitimate piece of original scholarship that is at the same time an interesting narrative....[T]his bold book cautions that while readers' interpretations will vary and are valid, conclusions may not even be possible." School Library Journal
"The subject will undoubtedly attract readers, but this is not for those in search of spoon-fed fact; rather, it's for teens who love to debate and to dig into what's between the pages of their history books." Stephanie Zvirin, Booklist
"[C]urious and fascinating....In short, this is not an easy book. It requires thought. That in itself makes it very welcome." Kathleen Karr, Children's Literature
"Translating the most recent scholarship into accessible prose, Aronson never 'talks down' to his audience in the course of creating a gripping, sophisticated narrative that establishes the contemporary relevance of his oft-recounted tale. A brilliant appendix discussing the relationship of the historical events to Arthur Miller's The Crucible will be of great interest to readers of all ages." Mary Beth Norton, author of In the Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692
Includes bibliographical references (p. 256-260) and index.
About the Author
Marc Aronson is the author of the critically acclaimed Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado, winner of the ALA’s first Robert L. Sibert Information Book Award for nonfiction and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award. He has won the LMP Award for editing and has a Ph.D. in American history from NYU. He lives with his wife and son in Maplewood, New Jersey. Stephanie Anderson lives in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Her first picture book was Weaving the Rainbow, by George Ella Lyon, in which her art was praised by Kirkus Reviews as "exquisite."
Table of Contents
Note to the Reader
A Note About the Images in This Book
On Spelling, Word Usage, and Dates in This Book
INTRODUCTION: Of Dark Forests and Midnight Thoughts
"The Queen of Hell"
Two Familiar Fairy Tales
Belief or Fraud?
PROLOGUE: Boston, 1688: The Possession of the Goodwin Children
Mather vs Glover
Of Meetinghouses and the Blood of Wolves: The Puritan Journey
Testing a Witch
Exploring the Invisible World
Lessons and Warnings
CHAPTER I: Two Salem Families, 1641-1692
The Putnams and the Porters
A Minister's Warnings
CHAPTER II: Two Mysteries
The First Mystery
The Second Mystery
The Second Mystery Deepens
CHAPTER III: The Mysteries End and the Hearings Begin
The Usual Suspects
CHAPTER IV: The Accuser: Ann Putnam Jr.
Biting, Pinching, and Choking
Of Tests and Wishes
CHAPTER V: The One and the Many
"Confess and Give Glory to God"
CHAPTER VI: From Hearings to Trials
"Alas, Alas, Alas, Witchcraft"
To Hear and Decide
One Dead: Bridget Bishop
CHAPTER VII: The Man in Black
Two Men in Black
CHAPTER VIII: "Choosing Death with a Quiet Conscience"
"If I Would Confess, I Should Have My Life"
A Confused Jury
"Till the Blood Was Ready to Come Out of Their Noses"
CHAPTER IX: "That No More Innocent Blood Be Shed"
"It Was All False"
"I Do Most Heartily,Fervently, and Humbly Beseech Pardon"
CHAPTER X: "A Great Delusion of Satan"
Ann Putnam Jr. Speaks
Wheels Within Wheels
EPILOGUE: Explaining Salem
Fraud, Witches, Hysterics, Hallucinators
APPENDIX: The Crucible, Witch-Hunt, and Religion: Crossing Points of Many Histories
Timeline of Milestones in Puritan History
Important Dates in Puritan History Before 1692
Chronology of Events in the Salem Witch Crisis
Notes and Comments