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The Ruin of All Witches
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The Ruin of All Witches (2021)

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2604104,596 (3.96)6
"A gripping story of a family tragedy brought about by witch-hunting in Puritan New England that combines history, anthropology, sociology, politics, theology and psychology. In Springfield, Massachusetts in 1651, peculiar things begin to happen. Precious food spoils, livestock ails, property vanishes, and people suffer convulsions as if possessed by demons. A woman is seen wading through the swamp like a lost soul. Disturbing dreams and visions proliferate. Children sicken and die. As tensions rise, rumours spread of witches and heretics and the community becomes tangled in a web of distrust, resentment and denunciation. The finger of suspicion soon falls on a young couple with two small children: the prickly brickmaker, Hugh Parsons, and his troubled wife, Mary. Drawing on rich, previously unexplored source material, Malcolm Gaskill vividly evokes a strange past, one where lives were steeped in the divine and the diabolic, in omens, curses and enchantments. The Ruin of All Witches captures an entire society caught in agonized transition between superstition and enlightenment, tradition and innovation"--… (mais)
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The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World de Malcolm Gaskill (2021)

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Exibindo 4 de 4
An account of a community's stresses and strains in the early years of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, specifically the town of Springfield in the Connecticut valley. A particular man, Hugh Parsons, was a difficult person to get on with and gradually his neighbours came to believe he was a witch and had cursed them in various ways. He had a troubled relationship with his wife Mary who probably suffered mental health issues. Eventually both were accused and arrested. The book doesn't focus totally on this however as it also deals with the religious beliefs of the town's founder and his clash with the authorities in Boston because his beliefs - which sound harmless from a modern day perspective - were perceived as heresy.

Unfortunately for what was potentially an interesting subject, came across to me as rather dry and I found it not a very engaging read. For that reason, I rate it as an OK 2 stars. ( )
  kitsune_reader | Nov 23, 2023 |
Absolutely gripping story from early Puritan New England of a society riven by the cognitive dissonance between its hyper-religiosity and interpersonal greed and envy, which manifests as a fear of witches. Very interesting. ( )
  Helen.Callaghan | Aug 28, 2023 |
One of the best books on witch trials. Unlike most, which tend to resemble general surveys, this book offers a detailed analysis of one small town and certain of its inhabitants. As such, it gives the reader a finer insight into the real-world experiences of witch allegations. The work is presented objectively and makes clear that most claims of witchcraft were not sanctioned by the court system.

While enjoyable, there were times when the book read a bit more slowly than I would have preferred. Still, a worthwhile read. ( )
  la2bkk | Dec 27, 2022 |
Hugh and Mary Parsons were perhaps the most miserable couple in Springfield, Massachusetts circa 1650. Mary suffered from severe, untreated mental illness, and cantankerous brick maker Hugh managed to alienate everyone in town. The pair quarreled constantly and each accused the other of witchcraft. Moreover, the residents of Springfield attributed all kinds of misfortunes, from bad milk to mysterious illnesses, to the devilish actions of Goodman and Goodwife Parsons, and were all too delighted to testify against them. As the reader can imagine, this tale does not end well.

Author Malcolm Gaskell does a good job of showing the reader just how difficult life was for American colonists in the demon-haunted seventeenth century. All in all, this is a thoroughly researched account of an obscure time period.

I received an electronic pre-publication copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way. ( )
  akblanchard | Nov 7, 2022 |
Exibindo 4 de 4
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Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Malcolm Gaskillautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Peirse, SheenaFotógrafoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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Always and everywhere, human beings have felt the radical inadequacy of their personal existence, the misery of being their insulated selves and not something else, something wider. -Aldous Huxley, The Devils of Loudon, 1952 Appendix
A house, a city, a kingdom, divided against itself cannot stand... Therefore if division do inevitably bring destruction to a kingdom, to a city, how shall one poor family divided subsist without destruction? -Robert Burnam, A Remonstration, 1645, the year Hugh Parsons and Mary Lewis were married in New England
One reason who she doth suspect you of being a witch is being you cannot abide that anything be spoken against witches... this expression of your anger was because she wishes the ruin of all witches. -William Pynchon. interrogating Hugh Parsons about his wife Mary, 1651, the year their marriage ended
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This is a true story about witchcraft in mid-seventeenth century New England. -Introduction
Once, beside a great river at the edge of a forest, there stood a small town. -Chapter 1, A Voice that Said 'Death'
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"A gripping story of a family tragedy brought about by witch-hunting in Puritan New England that combines history, anthropology, sociology, politics, theology and psychology. In Springfield, Massachusetts in 1651, peculiar things begin to happen. Precious food spoils, livestock ails, property vanishes, and people suffer convulsions as if possessed by demons. A woman is seen wading through the swamp like a lost soul. Disturbing dreams and visions proliferate. Children sicken and die. As tensions rise, rumours spread of witches and heretics and the community becomes tangled in a web of distrust, resentment and denunciation. The finger of suspicion soon falls on a young couple with two small children: the prickly brickmaker, Hugh Parsons, and his troubled wife, Mary. Drawing on rich, previously unexplored source material, Malcolm Gaskill vividly evokes a strange past, one where lives were steeped in the divine and the diabolic, in omens, curses and enchantments. The Ruin of All Witches captures an entire society caught in agonized transition between superstition and enlightenment, tradition and innovation"--

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