Salem Story: Reading the Witch Trials of 1692 by Bernard Rosenthal - review by Randy Lee Cutler

Randy Lee Cutler

Tales of Perjury

Salem Story: Reading the Witch Trials of 1692

By

Cambridge University Press 275pp order from our bookshop
 

When, in 1982, Cibella Borges protested against her suspension from the police force for posing nude for a magazine, she insisted that her action had constituted no crime. 'She said she feared "the trial is just like the New England witch-hunt. They've made up their minds that I am a witch and they want to burn me."' In fact, none of the individuals convicted in 1692 were burned at the stake, although they were subjected to the theatricality of the gallows. With copious and detailed examples, Bernard Rosenthal argues that the constructed history of the Salem witch trials mirrors the perniciousness of the trials themselves.

A considerable and often exhausting part of Salem Story analyses the surviving primary documents and suggests that history is not supported by evidence. The players in this drama are brought centre stage and put on trial once again. This time around the accusers are denounced for perjury and the convicted

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