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Publisher's Summary

Why have societies all across the world feared witchcraft? This book delves deeply into its context, beliefs, and origins in Europe's history.

The witch came to prominence - and often a painful death - in early modern Europe, yet her origins are much more geographically diverse and historically deep. In this landmark book, Ronald Hutton traces witchcraft from the ancient world to the early modern state. This book sets the notorious European witch trials in the widest and deepest possible perspective and traces the major historiographical developments of witchcraft. Hutton, a renowned expert on ancient, medieval, and modern paganism and witchcraft beliefs, combines Anglo-American and continental scholarly approaches to examine attitudes on witchcraft and the treatment of suspected witches across the world, including in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, Australia, and North and South America, and from ancient pagan times to current interpretations. His fresh anthropological and ethnographical approach focuses on cultural inheritance and change while considering shamanism, folk religion, the range of witch trials, and how the fear of witchcraft might be eradicated.

©2017 Ronald Hutton (P)2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A little bit dry, but worth the time.

I think a hard copy of this book might have been preferable since it would make a great reference source.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Meticulously researched, dry but great.

The author of this book did their homework. The Witch is thoroughly researched and takes pains to make sure it is as clear and deliberate as possible in its approach to the history of witchcraft. This can lead to the text being a little dull at times. The entire beginning of the book is simply defining terminology, which was hard to get through, but demonstrated the seriousness with which the subject was approached. Though sometimes the writing can be a little dry, the sheer amount of information and detail that is gone into this book made the attention it demands worth it. The book covers many of the now common tropes of witches, searching through history to find their origins. It also covers regional customs and beliefs and the roles they played in shaping the conception of a witch, as well as actual accounts of witch trials throughout history. Occasionally the author will go on detailed but interesting tangents about other magical beliefs that only vaguely relate to witchcraft, for example exploring shamanism in Siberia and Faerie lore in the British Isles. The book is not for a casual listener, but for anyone interested in the history of magic or witches, this book is both information dense and non-biased in it's approach. I highly recommend it.

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  • Ms. N. J. Andrews
  • 02-02-18

Not engaging

It's not that this is bad as such, it's just misrepresented. This is, for the most part, a history of the study of OTHER studies on witchcraft, rather than itself an original study. So, so many citations and quotations and references that it stopped being engaging (although you have to respect the author's study of said studies). Just too dry for me.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Rebecca
  • 11-12-17

Dull narrator

looked forward to listening to this as witchcraft was covered on my degree course but I couldn't listen to the narrator, he made it all sound so very dull....I'm afraid I had to give up. It's a shame the author couldn't have narrated. A disappointment as I'm sure I would have found it really interesting.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-05-18

Brilliantly challenges previous ideas.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it really put to bed alot of unproven theory's which I had inadvertently picked up from new age sources. Great to be informed by such a brilliant mind.
The nuration and tone of voice was perfect for the subject matter and really gave a tricky subject at points great staying power.
I Higly recommend this to anyone with an interest in anything like witchcraft and or neo paganism.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Angela Baikie
  • 04-08-18

Enjoyed this

Enjoyed this but had to listen in small snippets as it contained so much information and research. That said it is an easy listen as written in plain English.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • J. Wexler
  • 03-27-18

Dry littany of facts

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

This could have been fascinating. Cearly an author with a breadth of research material at their disposal, but a dry listing of facts. I.e. among the Ibu they do x, among ojibway they do Y. On and on and on. No attempt at flow or to even pique interest in the reader.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

There are no "scenes"

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Useable for research into specific cultural details.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Sue Power
  • 01-21-18

well read

I thought this was a story rather than a history of The Witch well read

1 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Blair
  • 07-26-18

Boring and not what it seemed

This book is so dry and touches on the most boring and useless parts of this dynamic and fascinating history. Even worse you can’t return it so please read this before buying it like I did and wasted my money. The book is like a light guide to things anyone who has the vaguest interest in the witch trials liked but only in very small areas and a very certain time. It’s just not worth the waste of money and time. The reader is not interesting and even as someone who is a history nerd he fills the stories with useless citations and explanations on why he uses certain words that aren’t needed. The book has no flow and is frankly annoying. I am so mad I gave this person money.