In A Storm of Witchcraft, Baker tells the tragic tale of how Puritans in seventeenth-century New England betrayed their core values in a misguided attempt to protect themselves from what they regarded as a ghastly threat. Informed by a detailed knowledge of the political rivalries and social tensions of colonial Massachusetts and its eastern frontier in Maine, Baker demonstrates how economic hardship, Indian warfare, strained ties with England, a new royal charter, festering legal issues, the seeming decline of religious purity, a growing rebelliousness toward the leaders who had allowed such things to happen, and virulent village rivalries all conspired to create an environment in which witchcraft charges ran rampant and spread uncontrollably. In addition, Baker delves into the often-neglected aftermath of the trials. He examines the transition of Salem from history into memory, lingers over the participants’ difficulties reintegrating into a society that appeared to regard them as...

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