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Witch: A Tale of Terror Audiobook

Witch: A Tale of Terror

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Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (508 )
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Performance
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  •  
    A Stevens 02-25-17
    A Stevens 02-25-17
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    "An uncomfortable reminder of the power of belief "

    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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    aspidistra 02-25-17
    aspidistra 02-25-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "more Sam, please"
    What made the experience of listening to Witch: A Tale of Terror the most enjoyable?

    Sam's choices from the text, and delightful reading.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karl Boone 02-25-17
    Karl Boone 02-25-17
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    "Interesting and informative"
    If you could sum up Witch: A Tale of Terror in three words, what would they be?

    Shocking and horrifying


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Witch: A Tale of Terror?

    Covers in grim detail a dark and superstitious era in Europe that happened from the 12th to late into the 17th century.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    It's an informative book to listen to and Sam Harris does a great job imparting the information in the book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    azfatboy 02-28-17
    azfatboy 02-28-17
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    "Interesting content, but no analysis or conclusion"
    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    There really was no ending. Sam just stopped talking. It didn't feel like there was any closing thoughts.


    Any additional comments?

    There was definitely a missed opportunity here, perhaps in an epilogue by Sam himself, to analyze the "witch-hunt" mentality, and those aspects of religion that not only allowed it blaze uncontrollably just a couple centuries ago, to the exact same credulities that are not only alive, but thriving today. Indeed, that is what the entire focus of this book SHOULD HAVE BEEN. The history of the witch-hunts was interesting, but are there lessons learned from the past that can help us now? With the "witch-hunts" that are STILL GOING ON TODAY? Perhaps not, but this book has greatly missed it potential by forgoing the attempt.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jon 01-21-17
    Jon 01-21-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Couldn't stop listening!!!"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Oskar 01-18-17
    Oskar 01-18-17
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    "Very interesting. Perfectly narrated by Sam Harris"
    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    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.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacomien de Klerk Durban, South Africa 02-05-17
    Jacomien de Klerk Durban, South Africa 02-05-17 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Unconscionable Christianity - Burning Women"

    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.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fred 01-24-17
    Fred 01-24-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "People Are Frightening"

    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.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stew81 08-29-17
    Stew81 08-29-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Interesting short listen"
    Any additional comments?

    I really enjoyed that a lot of this was taken from actual newspaper articles, journals, and letters. I like the way people wrote back then and it makes the book that much more credible.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Marcus Kirby 08-03-17
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    "Amazing"

    I did not realize the extent to which people were arbitrarily murdered as ' witches '

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Lee
    Ireland
    4/5/17
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Well read and well worth a listen"

    Sam Harris provides a superb narration of a recap of the witch hunts in Europe, as written by Charles Mackay.

    If you've a passing interest in the history of witch craft or the hysteria surrounding it, this book prides a short by instructive introduction to the history and facts of the time

    It is well worth a listen, and while short, actually pretty well formed as a tight introduction.

    Very good - and Sam Harris is a great narrator.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • chris
    3/23/17
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    "brilliant, horrifying"

    had to listen in two sittings because it's heavy stuff, hilarious and depressing in equal parts! brilliantly read

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Robert Rawlins
    6/10/17
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    "Interesting history lesson"

    A really interesting history lesson on a topic I knew very little about, if not for for certain Monty Python sketches.

    Only real drawback for me was.that it didn't draw any relevant comparisons to modern day behaviour, or properly explore the phycology behind the phenomenon.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kieron
    3/23/17
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    "Very good"

    Interesting historical narrative. Well narrated by Sam Harris. Hope to hear more of this kind of audio book in the future.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Alfredo
    3/15/17
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    "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

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • TheAtheist
    3/14/17
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    "Great read."

    Hard to listen to, the descriptions sometimes, but another great choice, by the Jedi of Philosophy, Sam Harris.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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