Witchcraft in Early North America.

Alison Games, Rowman & Littlefield, $36.95 (205p) ISBN 978-1-4422-0357-0
The slenderness of this volume belies its author's ambition: an introduction to European, African, and Native American witchcraft before and after European contact. In cogent prose, Games has done a remarkable work of synthesis, bringing together dozens of sources and a hundred pages of primary text to create a compelling and entertaining overview of witchcraft history. She puts witch hunts into political and religious context, noting how colonial life laid fertile ground for sorcery and rebellion. While her editorial skills are admirable (included are transcripts of famous witch "confessions," the poisoning of one of Thomas Jefferson's slaves by a conjurer, and more), her own work may be of more interest. Games actively interprets, framing each document with a background sketch and leading questions ("What—or who—might have saved Mary Lee from murder?"), but ambition can come at a cost; overviews of belief systems are generalized, conclusions can come from questionable sources, and the writing at times recalls a textbook. But for students and history buffs who seek a larger context for the Salem outbreak, this is an admirable volume. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 11/08/2010
Release date: 10/01/2010
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 232 pages - 978-1-4422-0358-7
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