Top critical review
41 people found this helpful
on 19 March 1997
"Witchcraze" has been justly ignored by the academic community. It's a testament to the human mind's ability to ignore data. Most of Barstow's information is reasonably accurate (though her listing of the death tolls in various countries is severely flawed -- some areas are omitted, others counted twice, and several of the numbers are inaccurate). Unfortunately, Barstow doesn't USE her data! Her theory is that Witch-hunting was caused by misogyny. Her own data shows that a country's level of misogyny bears no correlation to the intensity of its Witch-hunting. Misogyny won't explain where or when Witch-hunting occurred, but Barstow ignores this. She also ignores any evidence that doesn't support her theories. Example: she claims that Iceland didn't persecute Witches. In fact, Iceland killed more Witches than Russia and Ireland, two countries that Barstow does discuss. The difference is, in Iceland 95% of the victims were men. Since Barstow thinks that Witch hunting was women-hunting, she carefully deletes Iceland from the picture.
The worst aspect of this book, though, is that it is chock-full of blatant ethnic and sexual stereotyping. Spain didn't kill many Witches because Spaniards are too chivalrous to do that. Doctors accused wise-women of Witchcraft because male and female healers are "natural enemies". (Barstow quickly glosses over the fact that wise-women did this too -- she certainly doesn't suggest that women were each other's "natural enemies"!) I strongly recommend people to avoid this book. Some of the information is accurate, but you can get better info -- without the stereotyping.