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Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England
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Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  236 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Focusing on witchcraft reports and trials outside of Salem and utilizing case histories and psychological analyses, this study evaluates the incidents and trials within the context of late-seventeenth-century New England.
Paperback, 560 pages
Published November 17th 1983 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published October 28th 1982)
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Katherine Addison
Possibly my favorite thing about this book is Demos's confession, in his preface, that he discovered in the course of researching this book that, yes, he is descended from those Putnams. But this is because trivia and the malice of serendipity fascinate and delight me.

This is an excellent, careful, thoughtful history of witchcraft in seventeenth-century New England, excluding Salem. Demos puts Salem in context, showing not only that it was an aberration, but how it was an aberration. More than t
Nov 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: American historians, witchcraft historians, witches
Recommended to Michael by: Serendipity
I am told that this remains an important study of New England witch trials, even more than thirty years after its publication. For me, it adds to work on European witchcraft, like Levack’s The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe, and helps to explain the differences between witch trials in the Old World and the New. In a European context, witch trials were on the decline by the Seventeenth Century, and the famous trials in Salem (1692-93) come very late in the cycle, which raises the question of w ...more
Christine Nicole
Freud interprets the Salem witch craze. Which would be interesting if Freudian psychology was still a valid scope.
Rick Maloney
Nov 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England by John Demos is a comprehensive study of the various influences surrounding witchcraft in the early American colonies. Diving the book into four sections: biography, psychology, sociology, and history, Demos uses “the four corners of one scholar’s compass” to provide a 360 degree perspective of early American witchcraft and culture (15). The primary focus of Demos’ research was on the social and psychological aspects of witchcr ...more
Mark Bowles
Aug 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
A. Summary: This book examines 4 particular areas of Salem witchcraft (biology, psychology, sociology, and historical) to answer such questions as; Who were the witches? (biography) What did the victims believe? (psychology) Why was witchcraft so potent in New Englander’s life? (sociology) Why did witchcraft occur where and when it did? (history)
B. Biography: Who was the typical witch?
1. Female, middle aged (40-60), English Puritan, married but with few or no children, low social position
2. Freq
Mark Valentine
Mar 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Clearly the definitive study of witchcraft in colonial America, Demos provides layers of research to create a rational portrait of the terror, blight and scourge that scarred so many lives. I picked this up in order to learn more about the background of the Salem witch tirals and specifically, the background behind Miller's play, "the Crucible," and in that respect I was disappointed--Demos gives that event only glancing treatment. But about all the other cases of witchcraft, it essentially work ...more
Dec 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
I liked it. An in depth look at the witchcraft culture endemic in New England at its founding. I was struck by how exhaustive the court records were for several of the witchcraft trials considering the frontier nature of these settlements and the litigious nature of Puritans that I was not aware of. I really enjoyed seeing the trends and conclusions the author drew from his compiling of the surviving court papers and town histories and how these fit into the larger witch scare movement winding d ...more
Jun 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
A detailed analysis of various factors surrounding witchcraft in the Colonies. If you were an older, childless woman who was often in conflict with your neighbors, you were more likely to be accused of witchcraft than others. If you were a young woman, being bewitched by a neighbor and subject to fits and other signs of demonic possession would bring you fame and recognition otherwise denied to those of your age and sex. If your town was involved in Indian wars and other strife, people were more ...more
Feb 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
Although the history narrated in this book is quite fascinating, it was impossible to get past the constant psychoanalysis of the people. There are other forms (and more accurate) of psychology and the use of Freud's outdated methods to identify with these figures makes this book one very difficult to read. I found myself constantly skipping entire pages looking for the historical accounts through all of the muck. If I had not been forced to read this for a class I would have out it down immedia ...more
Darcia Helle
Sep 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Being a Massachusetts native, I have always been fascinated by the witch trials in Salem. This book covers the subject in amazing detail. The research is in-depth and the writing thoroughly entertaining.
Jean Louise
Apr 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: history/witchcraft enthusiasts
Demos left me with a new perspective on the witchcraft crisis. I'm not sure that his use of Freudian analysis is valid, however his exploration on the role of pyschology was very interesting.
Andrea Rexilius
I especially like the title of this book. It's as if I am preparing to have Satan over for dinner, or it may be a description of Satan as jester, etc.
Jan 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent resource for those interested in the whys and hows of the witch trials in early New England.
Feb 24, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history-books
Too psyco-analytical for my taste, otherwise quite interesting.
Rebecca Dunbar
Nov 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Jan 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book contains a lot of information that is neatly organized and easy to follow. A good reference for those who need a basic look at the how's and why's of witchcraft trials in early New England.
Pj Reed martinez
I read this in high school many years ago, but it gives some interesting insight on the Salem Witch Trials and beliefs during that period of time.
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“Consider, too, the matter of display, the claims of “specialness” implicit in attack by witchcraft. Such claims were most vividly dramatized in full-blown “fits,” but, in a lesser measure, they may be imputed to all self-described victims: “The forces of evil have chosen me as their target. And you—the standers-by—must attend to me in my hour of affliction.” This” 0 likes
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