For centuries in Europe, innocent men and women were murdered for the imaginary crime of witchcraft. This was a mass delusion and moral panic, driven by pious superstition and a deadly commitment to religious conformity. In Witch: A Tale of Terror, best-selling author Sam Harris introduces and reads from Charles Mackay's beloved book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.
Public Domain (P)2016 Sam Harris
Sam's choices from the text, and delightful reading.
I'd like to encourage Sam to do more short audiobooks like this where he excerpts some of his favorite books, does a preface, and then reads selections. I'd buy them all.
This well-produced audiobook is introduced and read by author & neuroscientist, Sam Harris, who is also host of the very popular 'Waking Up' podcast. Harris' experience as a podcast host, reader of the audiobook versions of several of his own books and leading light across a diverse field of important public conversations and debates shines through in his measured yet compelling reading.
The subject material concerns the 'Witch Mania' of Early Modern Europe, as described by Charles Mackay in his seminal 1841 book, 'Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds'. The quality of Mackay's writing is excellent and the detailed picture he paints of this extraordinarily tragic (and often gruesome) period (which for Mackay - and even, to some extent, for us now - was relatively recent) conveys in almost palpable terms the ability of individuals and societies to drive themselves into an ever-deeper ditch of terrible suffering when the wheels of their beliefs (which drive their behaviour and much of their experience of the world) run-off the rails of reason.
Shocking and horrifying
Covers in grim detail a dark and superstitious era in Europe that happened from the 12th to late into the 17th century.
What really surprised me was that the crusaders were charged for witch craft, and later Joan of Arc. Along with the inhumanly way self-proclaimed morale people treated those accused of a non-crime. Along with the ways they used a "holy" book to justify their cruelty.
It's an informative book to listen to and Sam Harris does a great job imparting the information in the book.
Sam Harris found this and reads it to illustrate a point - how presumably good people do the most terrible things in the name of their religious beliefs. Shocking, mortifying, stomach-turning, and more relevant than ever in these theocratic times. Five stars on every count.
Well written, well read, overall - great work!
I think it is very important to keep these accounts of suffering in the name of superstition available to our society, in an effort to rid our species of these atrocities in the future.
Once again, Sam Harris has produced an account of factual evidence that so clearly demonstrates the power of belief.
This book is funny in parts but overall the context and content of the stories of witch hunt in Europe are fantastically tragic. The elaborate voice of Sam Harris is perfect for this absurd tale of superstition.
The cruelty that humans have endured is beyond depressing. We've come along way, but this book shows what humans are capable of. The recent support for Donald Trump is baffling, but less so after listening to this book. Reason is not always the strongest impulse.
The story gets a bit repetitive as it documents many cases of bizarre barbaric stupidity. I’m not sure how much Harris edited the language, but the writing is great, and Harris is well-suited to read it.
there are and were many ignorant people in the world. unfortunately those people killed a lot of innocent people there was a lot of Senseless violence the end. very very boring book
If you listen to Sam's podcast, or have listened to his other narrations, this audio edition is a must. Sam's voice, with the weight of all his previous words, paints a new layer on MacKay's work; reminding us that cultural superstitions still exist.
MacKay draws us through time to a place filled with mass hysteria. The horror is absurd in the amount of blood shed, the justifications used to shed it, and the length and depth it saturated Christian cultures.
The story told throughout these chapters is incredible, and without this audiobook, it's unlikely would have experienced it. Sam Harris gives an excellent narration, letting the language flow naturally despite the source material being nearly two centuries old. The breadth and duration of the witch hysteria in Europe, as well as the absurdity of it all, is truly extraordinary.
Interesting historical narrative. Well narrated by Sam Harris. Hope to hear more of this kind of audio book in the future.
had to listen in two sittings because it's heavy stuff, hilarious and depressing in equal parts! brilliantly read
"not bad but not what I was expecting"
I didn't do a thorough research on the contents of this book and thought it was going to be more like a reflection on the subject and analogies with the present, which is what I was mistakenly expecting. It's's more like a very descriptive encyclopedia of the horrors of witch-hunts. in that sense I can't give a relevant review as I'm not fond of the subject
Hard to listen to, the descriptions sometimes, but another great choice, by the Jedi of Philosophy, Sam Harris.
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