A Delusion of Satan: The Full Story of the Salem Witch Trials Hill, F. 1995

From Booklist
*Starred Review* Almost everyone knows something about the infamous Salem witch trials, but few are privy to the chilling details that Hill, a British novelist and journalist turned scholar, reveals in her superb and boldly analytical study. Hill documents every grim particular of this travesty of justice and terrifying example of the power of suggestion, from the very first accusations to the last brutal executions. As Hill tells the all but unbelievable tale about how a group of girls accused innocent women from all walks of life of practicing witchcraft, thus instigating a year of mass hysteria and causing the death of 25 people, she emphasizes the harshness, sterility, and repressiveness of seventeenth-century New England Puritan life. It’s no coincidence, Hill asserts, that Betty Parris, Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam, and Elizabeth Hubbard began having their dramatic fits in the dead of winter and in the wake of serious political and economic conflicts. The mystery is why allegedly responsible adults eagerly embraced and ruthlessly acted on their wild claims. Hill’s astute psychological insights offer cogent explanations for this moral breakdown, but no interpretation can diminish the horror. And Hill reminds us that “witch-hunts are still with us.”

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