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Salem Possessed: The Social Origins Of Witchcraft

Salem Possessed Book Review
Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft is a concise, 231 page informational text by Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum. Published in 1974, it explores the economic and social conditions present in the Salem village during the 1600s that led to the hysteria surrounding witchcraft. Multiple graphs and illustrations are present, as well as an average sized font, an abundance of footnotes typically on the left page, and a prominent voice from the authors. The book was written to serve as a more comprehensive informational piece on the Salem witch trials due to the authors finding other pieces written about the same topic to be inaccurate. Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum wanted to create something that utilized
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Boyer and Nissenbaum believe the main cause of the hysteria was due to the villages divide into two factions: those who followed the Putnam family, who pushed for Salams autonomy, and those who followed the politically focused Porter family. Although their attempt to explain the numerous witchcraft accusations in Salem as a problem due in most part to socioeconomic and political factors is drawn upon a wider range of sources than most other texts at the time, their strict focus prevents them from being able to see the true impact of other factors, such as…show more content…
In the textbook, religion is portrayed as the main cause of Salem’s witch hysteria. In America Possessed, however, the main reason is told to be a result of social conflicts and a power struggle between the main groups of Salem. Although the textbook addresses different causes, as does Salem Possessed, there is never a mention of the two most influential groups of Salem having an impact on the witch trials. Perhaps this is due to a time limitation of the book, as including that much detail would require the textbook and course to be much

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