SALEM POSSESSED

Front Cover
Harvard University Press, Jan 1, 1976 - History - 254 pages
Tormented girls writhing in agony, stern judges meting out harsh verdicts, nineteen bodies swinging on Gallows Hill. The stark immediacy of what happened in 1692 has obscured the complex web of human passion which climaxed in the Salem witch trials From rich and varied sources—many neglected and unknown—Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum give us a picture of the people and events more intricate and more fascinating than any other in the massive literature. It is a story of powerful and deeply divided families and of a community determined to establish an independent identity—beset by restraints and opposition from without and factional conflicts from within—and a minister whose obsessions helped to bring this volatile mix to the flash point. Not simply a dramatic and isolated event, the Salem outbreak has wider implications for our understanding of developments central to the American experience: the disintegration of Puritanism, the pressures of land and population in New England towns, the problems besetting farmer and householder, the shifting role of the church, and the powerful impact of commercial capitalism.
 

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User Review  - setnahkt - LibraryThing

Everybody knows about the Salem witch trials – if for no other reason than their constant use as a metaphor for everything from the McCarthy hearings to the War on Terrorism. However, that knowledge ... Read full review

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User Review  - 9inchsnails - LibraryThing

Read for graduate Historiography. Honestly, the Salem Witch Trials have never been of historical or academic interest to me; I was surprised to enjoy this as much as I did. Well-researched and lively. Read full review

Contents

What Happened in 1692
1
Some New Perspectives
22
2 In Quest of Community 16391687
37
3 Afflicted Village 16881697
60
The Dynamics of Factional Conflict
80
The Porters and the Putnams
110
A Story of the Putnam Family
133
A Pilgrim in Bethlehem
153
8 Witchcraft and Social Identity
179
To the Eighteenth Century
217
Index
223
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