Monday, November 2, 2015

NY Times Review of The Witches: Salem 1692 Is Historically Insightful

It has been four years since I got my Kindle and I still love this easy-to-use digital reading device. I initially appreciated having the ability to carry around a multitude of reading options while travelling. It also seemed important to me to learn what Kindle readers would experience if I started publishing eBooks. (Four in 2011.) All this to say that this past year I have come to enjoy another feature of the Kindle, one that may be available elsewhere but is especially simple here, downloading the Sunday New York Times. And it’s only 99 cents.

Being Halloween weekend it must have seemed appropriate to the editors to include not one, but two book reviews dealing with witches. The first is a review of Alex Mar’s Witches of America by Merritt Tierce. Mar’s book is a who’s who of American practitioners of the occult. But the review that I found especially interesting and hope you'll read was Stacy Schiff’s review of Jane Kamensky’s The Witches: Salem, 1692.

After an opening paragraph that sums up Schiff's approach to the subject of the Salem witch trials, Schiff makes her position on the book known in this manner:

By almost any measure, Salem’s crisis is more gripping than it was important. “The Witches,” Schiff’s glib, compendious and often maddening account of the events of that fateful year, does a great deal to punch up the story, but little to explore and still less to understand its significance.

Schiff’s review shows why the Times, which appeared in the week leading up to Halloween and was included in the Sunday Times Kindle Edition, exemplifies excellence in the journalism field. The author demonstrates the deftness of an adept when presenting the manner in which Ms. Kamensky assaults the Salem community. Schiff skillfully presents the book’s problematic presentation, then contrasts the caricature with certain facts which many moderns have long forgotten, if they ever knew in the first place. In short, the review is a worthwhile and informative read which you can find here.

My interest in this period of American history stems from having kin who were part of those early years of the pre-republic. Researching the period helped stimulate the elements that assembled themselves into my short story "An Unremembered History of the World", which became cornerstone of my short collection of stories Unremembered Histories: Sis Stories with a Supernatural Twist. Available on both Kindle and in print.

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