Award-winning historian Mary Beth Norton reexamines the Salem witch trials in this startlingly original, meticulously researched, and utterly riveting study.
In 1692 the people of Massachusetts were living in fear, and not solely of satanic afflictions. Horrifyingly violent Indian attacks had all but emptied the northern frontier of settlers, and many traumatized refugees—including the main accusers of witches—had fled to communities like Salem. Meanwhile the colony’s leaders, defensive about their own failure to protect the frontier, pondered how God’s people could be suffering at the hands of savages. Struck by the similarities between what the refugees had witnessed and what the witchcraft “victims” described, many were quick to see a vast conspiracy of the Devil (in league with the French and the Indians) threatening New England on all sides. By providing this essential context to the famous events, and by casting her net well beyond the borders of Salem itself, Norton sheds new light on one of the most perplexing and fascinating periods in our history.
About the Author
Mary Beth Norton, the Mary Donlon Alger Professor of American History at Cornell University, received her B.A. from the University of Michigan and her Ph.D. from Harvard University. She teaches courses in the history of exploration, early America, women's history, Atlantic world, and American Revolution. Her many books have won prizes from the Society of American Historians, Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, and English-Speaking Union. Her book, FOUNDING MOTHERS & FATHERS (1996), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. In 2011 her book SEPARATED BY THEIR SEX: WOMEN IN PUBLIC AND PRIVATE IN THE COLONIAL ATLANTIC WORLD was published. She was Pitt Professor of American History at the University of Cambridge in 2005-2006. The Rockefeller Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, and Huntington Library, among others, have awarded her fellowships. Professor Norton has served on the National Council for the Humanities and is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has appeared on Book TV, the History and Discovery Channels, PBS, and NBC as a commentator on Early American history.
“Stunning. . . . A rabble-rouser of a book.” –The New York Times Book Review
“Fresh and persuasively argued. . . . Norton builds her case with the precision of a criminal prosecutor. . . . Her conclusion is forceful.” –Boston Globe
“The freshest, and most detailed account . . . that we have had in a decade. . . . A landmark achievement. It may well herald a new golden age in American history.” –Los Angeles Times