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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Academic Study
This is a well researched reference book on witchcraft in America. Although it uses the Salem Witch Trials in 1692 as a reference point, it considers witchcraft both before and after this time. The text is peppered with examples and points out that there were numerous deaths of supposed witches subsequent to Salem, but these were almost exclusively extra judicial with...
Published 23 months ago by Brett H

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More than Salem
This book shows the superstitions and persecutions that went on after Salem. The reasons for persecution seem ludicrous to us now. I think that probably the modern American likes to think that after the Salem witch trials ended, that was the end to similar injustices, but sadly this book illustrates that it was not.

With this book the author tells the story of...
Published on 21 Jun. 2013 by Amazon Customer


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Academic Study, 14 July 2013
By 
Brett H (Brighton) - See all my reviews
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This is a well researched reference book on witchcraft in America. Although it uses the Salem Witch Trials in 1692 as a reference point, it considers witchcraft both before and after this time. The text is peppered with examples and points out that there were numerous deaths of supposed witches subsequent to Salem, but these were almost exclusively extra judicial with people taking the law into their own hands. This has a lot to do with the liberal or lax, depending which way you view it, gun laws in the United States.

The book makes some good parallels in demonstrating that accusations of witchcraft were often linked with racism towards both the slave population unwillingly brought in, and the native Indian population. These had their own customs which it was easy to decide was witchcraft, when viewed by superstitious immigrants. It is interesting that examples of violence towards `witches' took place right up to nearly the modern day.

The final part of this study deals with attitudes towards witchcraft in modern day America. There has been a sea change in attitudes towards the supernatural fuelled by TV programmes such as Bewitched, Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Many young people have been tempted to dabble with a little attempted spell making in ways which would have got them into serious trouble in days gone by. However, since the introduction of Gardnerian Wiccan practices in the 1940s, it is fair to say that Wicca and Pagan practices have become fairly widely accepted as an alternative religion in a way which would have been hard to predict.

This is an interesting academic study which comes down to 225 pages - the rest is notes and references. However, it is fairly dense and not the sort of text which is easy to read cover to cover.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More than Salem, 21 Jun. 2013
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Amazon Customer "Angela" (Essex) - See all my reviews
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This book shows the superstitions and persecutions that went on after Salem. The reasons for persecution seem ludicrous to us now. I think that probably the modern American likes to think that after the Salem witch trials ended, that was the end to similar injustices, but sadly this book illustrates that it was not.

With this book the author tells the story of witchcraft across America, rather than one place. All the ethnic groups of the US found themselves embroiled in the witchcraft belief at some point or another and perhaps not quite such ancient history as they would like to believe. One of the more shocking stories was of a Woman in Delaware in the 1950's being tried for witchcraft. An unbelievable idea that such superstitions would still continue back in the 50's.

There are many anecdotes and stories to give you a perspective of witchcraft and persecution across the states. It can be a bit heavy at times as well, so I would recommend having a fiction book on the go at the same time to switch between fiction and non fiction as the mood takes you. It loses a star from me as it was not as well edited as it could have been and there were some grammatical mistakes which were surprising, considering the publishing house that it came from. This book could be a useful addition for anyone studying the subject of Witchcraft, especially from the perspective of the US.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Informative and well researched but not exciting and an effort to get through in parts, 30 July 2013
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G. Wake "gregwake" (Newcastle, UK) - See all my reviews
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I have learned much more from this book than I thought likely at the outset; it contains a wealth of information, it explains a great deal about the USA, its inhabitants, their origins and how witchcraft has affected the language and culture. It's a broad history covering a wide geographic area, about four hundred years and the major ethnic groups from European settlers and African-American slaves to Mexicans, Hispanics and various Native American peoples. Bizarrely and disappointingly it does stop towards the end of the twentieth century and entirely ignores the recent rise of witches, wizards and the like in US popular culture.

`America Betwitched' is, unfortunately, a good history wrapped in a not very good book. Context is severely lacking; it tells you about places, products and cash amounts without explaining where, what or how much they are in modern day equivalent. There are no maps, pictures are few and far between, odd words are used with little or sometimes no explanation and medicinal plants and products referred to with no explanation as to what they do. If you don't know what kind of places the panhandle of Alaska or the Ozarks are you might find some of the chapters confusing.

The topic is wonderful, the tales told thought provoking and fascinating but the writing lets it down quite badly. Paragraphs are huge and meandering, the author often flips back and forth between topics, the subject index is dire, the chapters not well organised and there are some sections that are simply dull. You will learn a great deal from this book though maybe not as much as you'd have thought.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting academic study of witchcraft in America..., 28 Jun. 2013
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John "John75222" (Leeds, Yorkshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This is a well-researched and scholarly review on witchcraft in the USA. Say witchcraft and America in the same breath and immediately the name Salem springs to mind. The Salem trials in 1692 are known for the savagery with which the accused were dealt with and most people believe that this was the end of the matter. However, this wasn't the case and as the author describes, the persecution of alleged witches continued into the twentieth century just not as vocally. Davis also points out that whilst Salem was a particularly gruesome example it wasn't the only one, just the most famous or I should say notorious.

Sometime after Salem the offence that witches were hauled into court over changed from being a criminal offence to a civil one: i.e. from a capital offence of `bringing forth the devil' to committing fraud by `claiming to perform witchery'. Davis's contention is that witchcraft didn't disappear from America after 1692 just that there is a gradual change in perception. To do this Davis uses decade's worth of court, census records and newspaper reports to provide background and understanding of the belief in witchcraft in America and how it developed and was treated after Salem, interestingly how details of lurid crime reported in newspapers was a front for charging someone believed to be a witch with an actual indictable crime.

Another argument that Davis explores is that as different immigrant groups arrived in America some of their religious practices were viewed by other immigrant groups as witchery. To a certain extent this allowed ethnic groups to be demonised as devil worshippers and therefore different to the god-fearing majority population and a way to keep them in check. Examples given are of the use of `folk' remedies used in treating illness. Even indigenous Americans were viewed with suspicion and accusations of witchcraft against them were commonplace.

This is a fascinating, well researched book on the history of witchcraft in America from Salem to the present day.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Keeper, 14 Aug. 2013
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Sile (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
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I have an interest in witchcraft and the occult, and there is a lot of misinformation floating about in relation to historical witches, so whenever I see a book that attempts to sort through historical records, I try to read it, since I have no time to sift through court trials, or translate other sources myself.

I have read one or two of Mr Davies books in the past and have not been disappointed. I have to say that, once again, I am happy with what Mr Davies has produced in America Bewitched: The Story of Witchcraft After Salem. This examination of the perception of witchcraft in America was an interesting, and enlightening read as I knew very little beyond the notion of Salem, past and present and the emergence of voodoo. There was certainly more to the history than I expected. What I particularly like about Mr Davies books, is that extensive footnotes and bibliographies included, so should one particular incident interest me, I can seek our further information myself from his source material.

America Bewitched: The Story of Witchcraft After Salem is not a page turner, being written in a very academic style, but that said, it is perfectly comprehended by this non-academic. I would recommend it as a starting point for someone delving into the historical aspects of witchcraft (occult?) in America.
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4.0 out of 5 stars interesting text about witches and witchcraft, 6 July 2013
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Su (England) - See all my reviews
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In August of 1612, under the rule of James I of England, 10 people from the Lancashire towns of Pendle and Samlesbury were executed for witchery.

80 years later came the events of Salem, Massachusetts, USA. All this was 400 years ago.

This book starts off after the Salem witch trials and charts the attempts of people to try to comprehend what happened and why as well as the changing face and use of the terms witch and witchcraft over the centuries since.

The authors have split the book into 9 chapters

- aftermath
- magic of a new land
- the law
- witches
- dealing with witches
- dealing with witch believers
- insanity
- witch killings up close
- times a changing

As with Pendle and Samlesbury this was an age of male domination and women were the easy targets for accusation - after all they were either the property of their husband or their father.

Salem is the perfect demonstration of how a child's made up story (or in this case children's story) can run out of control and ruin the lives of many people.

This book has some interesting and well researched information in it and it is easy to read. If you have an interest in the witch trials of Salem and the events that followed then you could do worse than start with this text.
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5.0 out of 5 stars utterly fascinating, 8 May 2013
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J. Turner (Wales) - See all my reviews
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This latest work of Owen Davies, social historian, is an important addition to his body of work on the subject of witchcraft. Detailing those cases that happened after the horrors of Salem, Davies reveals that America was not quite ready to give up its beliefs in such subjects as conjure, hoodoo and other forms of witchcraft and magic as practised by those who came to the new land. There is also reference to how the original indigenous population viewed 'witches' and how, indeed, they came to view them as their numbers shrank and they were forced onto reservations. Davies tells how the subject of witchcraft came to be seen as a joke, even while people were still being accused and, in some instances, dying, as a result of attacks on them by those who considered themselves under a spell. More modern forms of witchcraft also get a mention, including the inestimable Sybil Leek... Owen Davies is a common sense writer of the subject at hand, yet he does not seem to get the attention he deserves as a scholar and author on magic, unlike others in the public eye. This is a welcome addition to my library, and should be read by anyone remotely interested in social history, America or witchcraft. Recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very informative and interesting book, 13 May 2013
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`America Bewitched' opens with the notorious witch-hunt of 1692, but swiftly shifts to focus on the evidence of witchcraft beliefs and practices. Spread across 9 well researched chapters, the diverse topics include hypnosis and early psychiatry, Wicca (Pagan), mesmerism, and civil and criminal law. Davies also discusses local and immigrant traditions that form the foundation of witchcraft and supernatural beliefs. He demonstrates how these beliefs have changed attitudes, and provides explanations for evil deeds and misfortunes across the years. Interesting connections are made through a selection of reports between supernatural beliefs, magical thinking, witchcraft, and the occult. He concludes that whilst magic and witchcraft are discussed less frequently in the press in current years, the ideas are held in the public mind through modern films and criminal culture.

`America Bewitched' is best described as a record of highly detailed and well described instances of witchcraft and the occult. It highlights the influence of these areas on society today, and is a truly interesting read for those who would like to understand the history of witchcraft and the occult.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Read it for knowledge, not entertainment, and you'll be OK, 23 May 2013
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Glasgow Dreamer (Glasgow Scotland) - See all my reviews
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Definitely an academic account, rather being designed to entertain, this is an exceptionally well-researched and detailed account of the history of witchcraft in the "the colonies" since 1692, a time when widespread belief in such things was far more understandable, in retrospect. What is most surprising is how such beliefs have persisted, to the extent that a significant number of present-day Americans still believe in witchcraft in some form!

The academic style of the writing does make this a little hard-going at times, but stick with it, as it is well written, and is a rare chance to find out more about this subject area without being exposed to the sensationalism and titillation which often accompanies writing which concerns such matters. The author also considers the effects on wider society of some of the individual incidents, rather than limiting himself solely to the incidents themselves.

Overall, it's a rewarding read if you can stomach the academic style, but it may not "entertain" you.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting insight into American Witchcraft post-Salem., 13 July 2013
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Uncle Barbar (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
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This is a well-researched and written book by Owen Davies. He has explored many facets of witchcraft in the USA post-Salem and for that he is to be commended as this is a subject for which very little has been written.

I am fascinated by the Salem witch trials (I visited the town when I was over in Mass. a few years ago) - the trials with the hysteria and unfairness (!) of all of the accusations drew immediate parallels with the witch trials in Essex/Suffolk in the 1640s. And so I was interested to hear what post-Salem witchcraft information there was. And I was most surprised at just how late that "witches" (or the persecution of supposed-witches) was and continued to be right up until the 1950s. Also I was interested by his insights into the cultural and racial element here - that of Native Americans in particular.

It has to be that this is probably a niche book - but a fascinating one also for these even moderately interested in the witch phenomena.
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