|| A Delusion of Satan
|| Francis Hill
|| Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., ©1995
Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.
New York, NY 10036
In 218 pages the author, a journalist, covers the Salem witch trials
in great detail. His research is very extensive and this book may well
be one of the best written on the Salem, Massachusetts witch trials.
this dark era of history, a group of children began to tell each other's
fortunes; but this soon turned to hysterical fits where neighbors were
accused of being witches. Before the end, 19 persons were hung, one was
killed with heavy stones, and over 100 were jailed, where many were
tortured and lost their minds.
Many who fought for their innocence were acquitted, but one was hung
for recanting. Most were presumed guilty before their trials.
Afterwards, the families of those hung by mistake were denied
restitution and officials refused to expunge their records. Judges,
and bailiffs closed ranks and refused to accept blame. Eventually, the
death of 20 innocent persons was blamed on the "delusion of
Satan" (p.216) in an hysterical community.
The comparison to the current day care hysteria is unsettling and
disturbing. In the introduction the author observes that witch trials
are a form of civil war and that a "sense of injustice. . . can
fester and explode into destructive violence" (p. x). He sees
modern witch hunts as the most savage in history.
The book closes with a good set of footnotes, good references, and a
useful index and is highly recommended.
Reviewed by LeRoy G. Schultz, Professor Emeritus, West