The Witches, Salem 1692 by Stacy Schiff
It is a thick historic read that Stacy Schiff offers us in her book The Witches, Salem 1692. If you think you know all about this period of history, have the skinny on the rumors and historic accounting, know full well what happened to a bunch of women (and men) way back in the early days of this country, think again.
What Schiff makes apparent from the outset is that there is very little record to take from in the cases of witch hysteria that swept the east coast of America’s countryside in the later part of the 1600’s. Even when there is some sort of written account, Schiff assures us we must move cautiously through conjecture, faulty eyewitness accounts, prejudice and most of all superstitions fed by faith.
And really, that last point is what this whole sad tale is about: How faith-and blind faith in many of the people living in this time-created a system of belief in the absolute evil of man over belief in his good. Left to our own devices, Schiff makes clear-and I believe we have never really evolved from this position-that man (and woman) can and always will do more harm than good. And with a belief system allowing for any number of possibilities ordained by a god, the evil one may do is limitless.
The Witches, Salem 1692 might reveal a moment in time, but the moment in mind still very much exists to this day.