Witchcraft is a subject that fascinates us all. Indeed, from childhood most of us develop some mental image of a witch - usually an old woman, mysterious and malignant. But why do witches still feature so heavily in our cultures and consciousness? From Halloween superstitions to literary references such as Faust and, of course, Harry Potter, witches seem ever-present in our lives.
In this Very Short Introduction, Malcolm Gaskill takes a long historical perspective, from the ancient world to contemporary paganism. This is a book about the strangeness of the past, and about contrasts and change; but it's also about affinity and continuity. He reveals that witchcraft is multi-faceted, that it has always meant different things to different people, and that in every age it has raised questions about the distinction between fantasy and reality, faith and proof. Delving into court records, telling anecdotes, and challenging myths, Gaskill re-examines received wisdom, especially concerning the European witch-hunts of the 16th and 17th centuries. He also explores the modern memory and reinvention of witchcraft - as history, religion, fiction, and metaphor.
In a hurry? Listen to more Very Short Introductions.
©2010 Malcom Gaskill (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
I read a lot. But I listen to books I either would never normally buy or would have a hard time getting through.
Yes this book has interesting sections that are worth hearing more then once.
He was very good narrator.
I am always up for a good book, regardless of genre.
This was a good listen. I haven't really heard a lot of audiobooks, so I really can't rank this fairly. This book was like sitting in a lecture given at college, if you like that sort of thing (and I do) you will like this book.
I really liked how the argument of how the modern view of witchcraft really cannot be applied to those who lived in the time where witches were a believable phenomenon. I also liked how the author/narrator demonstrated just how wrong our preconceived notions of witchcraft in the 14-18th century Europe are historically and statistically innaccurate.
He sounds a lot like the guy who narrated programs on the History Channel (way back when they actually had shows in history), but hearing him narrate about some of the atrocities of those times was heartbreaking.
There were many but here are the two that stand out in my mind: all the work that past historians did to get the actual numbers of witch trials right and that while we as Westerners may think that witchcraft is a joke, there are many countries that still kill and mutilate people because of witchcraft.
I think that anybody who listens to/or reads this book will be surprised at how little they know about the subject. This book made me want to read more about witchcraft in a historical context. If you go into this book with an open mind the preconceived ideas that you have at the beginning of the book will seem a little ridiculous when you get to the end of it.
Report Inappropriate Content