Synopses & Reviews
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Cleopatra, the #1 national bestseller, unpacks the mystery of the Salem Witch Trials.
It began in 1692, over an exceptionally raw Massachusetts winter, when a minister's daughter began to scream and convulse. It ended less than a year later, but not before 19 men and women had been hanged and an elderly man crushed to death.
The panic spread quickly, involving the most educated men and prominent politicians in the colony. Neighbors accused neighbors, parents and children each other. Aside from suffrage, the Salem Witch Trials represent the only moment when women played the central role in American history. In curious ways, the trials would shape the future republic.
As psychologically thrilling as it is historically seminal, The Witches is Stacy Schiff's account of this fantastical story-the first great American mystery unveiled fully for the first time by one of our most acclaimed historians.
"The Witches is the fullest and finest story ever told about Salem in 1692, and no one else could tell it with the otherworldly flair of Stacy Schiff." Joseph J. Ellis, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Quartet
"History in the hands of Stacy Schiff is invariably full of life, light, shadow, surprise, clarity of insight, and so it is again and then some in her latest work, The Witches. Few writers combine as she does superb scholarship and an exceptional gift for language with amazing reach and agility of mind. This is a superb book." David McCullough
"In this beautiful retelling of one of our ugliest tales, Schiff describes the sheer strangeness of the trials and the society from which they spring." Boston Globe, Best Nonfiction Books of 2015
"The hottest biographer on the block...She returns to give her dazzling IRL treatment to the Salem witch trials, and unlike the blatantly allegorical The Crucible, passing H. P. Lovecraft references, and Hocus Pocus, or any other pop-culture reference to Salem, Schiff's book is actually about the people who lived through the trials. Schiff is at her best, infusing a historical event with as much life, mystery, and tragedy of any novelist. The scariest book on the list, because everything in here actually happened." Vanity Fair
"Schiff brings to bear a sensibility as different from the Puritans' as can be imagined: gentle, ironic, broadly empathetic, with a keen eye for humor and nuance. Thanks to this, and to Schiff's narrative gifts, the present-day reader flits above New England's smoky chimneys and thatched rooftops... it is wizardry of a sort—in a flash of brimstone, a whole world made wondrously visible." The Atlantic
About the Author
Stacy Schiff is the author of Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov), winner of the Pulitzer Prize; Saint-Exupéry, Pulitzer Prize finalist; A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America, winner of the George Washington Book Prize; and Cleopatra: A Life.
Schiff has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the
National Endowment for the Humanities and an award in literature from
the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Named a 2011 Library Lion by
the New York Public Library, she lives in New York City.