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The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World by Malcolm Gaskill

The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World by Malcolm Gaskill

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In the frontier town of Springfield in 1651, peculiar things begin to happen. Precious food spoils, livestock ails and property vanishes. People suffer fits and are plagued by strange visions and dreams. Children sicken and die. As tensions rise, rumours spread of witches and heretics, and the community becomes tangled in a web of spite, distrust and denunciation. The finger of suspicion falls on a young couple struggling to make a home and feed their children: Hugh Parsons the irascible brickmaker and his troubled wife, Mary. It will be their downfall.

The Ruin of All Witches tells the dark, real-life folktale of witch-hunting in a remote Massachusetts plantation. These were the turbulent beginnings of colonial America, when English settlers' dreams of love and liberty, of founding a 'city on a hill', gave way to paranoia and terror, enmity and rage. Drawing on uniquely rich, previously neglected source material, Malcolm Gaskill brings to life a New World existence steeped in the divine and the diabolic, in curses and enchantments, and precariously balanced between life and death.

Through the gripping micro-history of a family tragedy, we glimpse an entire society caught in agonized transition between supernatural obsessions and the age of enlightenment. We see, in short, the birth of the modern world.

REVIEWS

"A bona fide historical classic ... Historical writing of the very highest class, impeccably researched and written with supreme imagination and wisdom. -- Dominic Sandbrook." ― Sunday Times

"Unforgettable ... Whether you read 
The Ruin of All Witches for a startling insight into another age, or see its portrait of mob hysteria and witch-hunts as darkly analogous to our own uneasy times, this is one of those rare history books that stays with you and haunts you long after you have turned the last page. Superb. -- Christopher Hart." ― Sunday Times

"The genius of Gaskill's book lies in his meticulous piecing together of daily life in New England ... Gaskill tells this deeply tragic story with immense empathy and compassion, as well as historical depth. A compelling study that offers a chilling insight into human nature in an age of superstition."― 
The Guardian

"Breathtaking ... a great story, exquisitely told. I had to reread certain sentences aloud, just to savour their insight and cadence ... This book is history at its illuminative best." - ― 
The Times

"The narrative is as compelling as a campfire story ... This is deeply atmospheric writing, carefully sourced ... As with the best history, the lessons of Springfield's past may serve to inform the citizens of a still-divided and conflicted nation. -- Erica Wagner." ― 
Financial Times

PRODUCT DETAILS
Paperback
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 978-0141991481
Pages: 336