Top critical review
6 people found this helpful
a useful introduction to a complex and bewildering subject
on 28 July 2011
I was looking for a book which would provide an introduction to this topic, of which I knew nothing beyond a dim memory of a production of Arthur Miller's play 'The Crucible' (about 50 years ago). So I needed, at least a narrative of the events, but preferably also a broader perspective of the historical context - Puritanism, American frontier life in the 17th century, government and society in Massachusetts, etc. Truth to tell, I guessed that it was wishing for the moon to expect all that in one, digestible, book. This book does however supply quite a lot of that, probably as much as can reasonably be expected in a single monograph. I felt confident too that the author has done her research thoroughly, for there is plenthy of evidence of that in the text. I read the earlier chapters closely, but it was hard work getting a wider view among the (necessary) mass of specific detail, and in later chapters I had to resort to speed-reading - skimming - so as not to get bogged down. That's not the author's fault - she set out to do her job thoroughly and she does that - but I think other readers may find it helpful to be aware that it is that kind of book, so as to get value from it and not be disappointed.