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A History of Witchcraft

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  216 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
For nearly thirty years, Jeffrey B. Russell's authoritative book has been the one illustrated history to which anyone interested in this subject could turn with confidence. Now, in collaboration with Brooks Alexander, who has himself conducted innovative research in the field, this classic book has been fully revised, with an updated introduction and bibliography, new info ...more
Paperback, Second Edition, 216 pages
Published March 26th 2007 by Thames & Hudson (first published January 1st 1980)
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(showing 1-30 of 860)
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Lisa M.
Mar 12, 2016 Lisa M. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
At places in the text, the author's bias shines out, which makes it hard to take the whole text without a grain of salt. He admits in the last chapter of the novel that he is not a neopagan or a witch. He does not have to be a neopagan or a witch to write a successful book on this topic (and to be honest, it is good he is not. Too many uninformed young neopagans think that they are linked to the witch-craze when they are not.) But, I shouldn't have been able to sense judgmental overtones through ...more
May 12, 2016 Chloe rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyable light summertime reading, with really lovely illustrations! I saw this book on the recently-returned book cart at my college library and jumped at the chance to read this before I left college forever. I recently took a class on the late medieval/Renaissance period and so I already knew a lot about the history, but this book goes more in depth about that era. I also knew nothing about more modern witchcraft/wiccan practices (aside from generally knowing that a ton of lesbian ...more
Steve Cran
Oct 01, 2012 Steve Cran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Magick and sorcery have been with mankind since the beginning. Witchcraft being the most popular branch of of has perked the curiousity of many people. This book give a real accurate accounting of it's developement spanning from man's humble beginnings up until the present. This book lays it out in a simple to understand format with the main ideas of the author expressed and then supported by trackable facts. There are a few details that are left out that those who are familiar with the modern c ...more
Seth Pierce
I read this book as part of researching connections of spiritualism/neo-paganism to neo-pentecostalism. the book is weak on its ancient practices and feels rushed. I would like more on the practices of those contemporary to ancient Israel. The author is also weak theologically stating that St. Paul was against women. However in his treatment of the stereotypical imagery that grew out of the "witch-craze" movements and the Malleus Malificarum he does quite well. He also succeeds in demonstrating ...more
Stephen Simpson
Mar 30, 2016 Stephen Simpson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
All in all, a pretty poor work. Much of the historical content can be found in better books and while the author freely dismisses many scholarly theories/opinions, he offers minimal evidence to support his position(s). He is, however, surprisingly gentle in his treatment of the nonsense that is the modern "wicca" movement, though he does do a pretty good job of underlining how much of it is basically made-up psuedohistorical nonsense.
Steve Wiggins
Jun 09, 2014 Steve Wiggins rated it liked it
A pretty good introduction to witchcraft that covers most of the history of the phenomenon. It has a good deal of information, and, as many Thames and Hudson volumes, copious illustrations. A good place to start getting information on the much misunderstood word "witchcraft." See more at: Sects and Violence in the Ancient World.
Megan Malinowski
Apr 28, 2015 Megan Malinowski rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book rather boring, and I was looking for more insight on Wicca, but I didn't really get that much reading this book. I didn't read it to the end because I found it hard to get through, and it's not an American book, so I wasn't used to the writing style.
I'm not familiar with the topic. it was intetesting to read and get a broad panorama of the issues dealt with . good selection of images. not much to say since i'm not a historian and havn't done research on the subjet.
Apr 04, 2016 Stella rated it liked it
Background reading prior to vvitch film release. Interesting reading.
Aug 01, 2012 Catriona rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is really a history of the idea of witchcraft, which avoids many of the more hysterical pitfalls of other books in this area. It charts how sorcery became associated with charges of heresy in the middle ages, and the rise of so called wicca in the modern era, which was largely made up in the early 20th Century! Burton Russell does a good job of pricking the bubble of hysteria that usually surrounds the subject and gives us a thorough going historical account.

Readable, lavishly illustra
Apr 10, 2009 Caleb rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is an extremely cheesy-looking book, but despite it's New Age bookstore-meets-junior high history book lay-out and design, it's a remarkably completely complete work, covering that which people call witchcraft from prehistory to the middle of this decade. Probably most intersting was the less covered stuff, like a quick overview of 20th century scholarship on the phenomenon, and the section devoted to modern witchcraft/wicca as an invented religion/tradition.
Feb 05, 2008 Leah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From what I read, this is a well-written well-researched book, that seemed to lack the heavier personal opinions that litter many of the books on this subject. Unfortunately, I checked this book out from the library and someone had cut out large chunks of chapters.
Miranda Hency
Feb 02, 2016 Miranda Hency rated it liked it
Shelves: own
I had to read most of this for a history class I was taking and then read the rest on my own. Very informative and interesting information. I learned so much about witchcraft that I didn't know before.
Oct 03, 2008 Lauren rated it really liked it
Shelves: pagan
Very detailed and extensive (with little tiny print). More than you might bargain for, but true to its title.
Jul 17, 2010 Kat rated it it was amazing
I read this in one night... I couldn't put it down.
Mills College Library
133.4309 R9643 2007
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Jeffrey Burton Russell is Professor of History, Emeritus, at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Besides UCSB, he has taught History and Religious Studies at Berkeley, Riverside, Harvard, New Mexico, and Notre Dame. He has published seventeen books and many articles, most of them in his special field, history of theology. He is most noted for his five-volume history of the concept of the ...more
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