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The Witches
Cover of The Witches
The Witches
Salem, 1692
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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...
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...
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Description-

  • 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.

About the Author-

  • Stacy Schiff is the author of Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov), winner of the Pulitzer Prize; Saint-Exupéry, a Pulitzer Prize finalist; A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America, winner of the George Washington Book Prize and the Ambassador Book Award; Cleopatra: A Life, winner of the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for biography; and most recently, The Witches: Salem, 1692. Schiff has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and named a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres by the French Government, she lives in New York City.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 7, 2015
    Pulitzer-winner Schiff (Cleopatra: A Life) applies her descriptive prowess and flair for the dramatic to the Salem witch trials. The book is packed with details and delivered with a punch, but it suffers from a dearth of nuance. Schiff’s passionate use of the active tense places the reader right in the midst of the action, about 15 miles north of Boston during the spring of 1692. However, this laudable effort also causes some confusion over place and time, and it’s hard to distinguish the facts from Schiff’s imaginative attempts at turning the trial reports into narrative action. There are disorienting shifts between passages in which the reader is immersed in the spooky, supposedly magical environment of Salem, and more prosaic sections describing what actually happened in the trials and town. Schiff provides background context for the events and focuses on the action, but her efforts to apply an overarching fairy tale theme miss their mark, and she avoids deep cultural, historical, and societal analyses of the trials. This retelling succeeds as a work of gripping popular nonfiction, but for those already familiar with the subject, it will serve only as light reading. Agent: Eric Simonoff, William Morris Endeavor.

  • Kirkus

    September 1, 2015
    The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer provides an account of a foundational American tragedy of mass hysteria and injustice. At its best, the latest work from Schiff (Cleopatra: A Life, 2010, etc.) ably weaves together all the assorted facts and many personalities from the 1692 Salem witch trials and provides genuine insight into a 17th-century culture that was barely a few steps away from the Dark Ages. Religious belief and superstition passed for reality, science had no foothold whatsoever, and both common folk and their educated ministers could believe that local women rode broomsticks, turned into cats, and had the power to be in two places at once. Furthermore, it was a world in which an accusation was as good as a conviction, where seemingly possessed girls flailed and contorted themselves in court, while judges bore down upon helpless defendants with loaded questions. The accused, under the spell of their own culture, could likewise turn on themselves-and not just to save their skin. "Confession came naturally to a people who believed it the route to salvation, who submitted spiritual biographies when they entered into church membership, who did not entirely differentiate sin from crime," writes the author. "By the craggy logic of the day, if you had been named, you must have been named for a reason. Little soul-searching was required to locate a kernel of guilt." While Schiff has marshaled the facts in neat sequential order, the book lacks either a sense of relevance or compelling narrative drive. The author writes in a sharp-eyed yet conversational tone, but she doesn't have anything new to say or at least nothing that would come as a revelation to even general readers, until the final pages. This is the type of book that yearns from the beginning for a fresh approach or a new angle. As history, The Witches is intelligent and reliable; as a story, it's a trudge over very well-trod ground.

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    May 15, 2015
    Pulitzer Prize-winning Schiff's recent "Cleopatr"a made 20 Best Books lists in 2010 and has sold 800,000 copies across formats, so what's next? Investigating one raw and awful year in the Massachusetts Bay Colony when a minister's daughter's fits led to barbed accusations of witchcraft. When it was over, 19 men and women had been hanged, which profoundly shaped the emerging republic. With a 300,000-copy first printing.

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Salem, 1692
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