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The Witch

A History of Fear, from Ancient Times to the Present
Written by: Ronald Hutton
Narrated by: Gildart Jackson
Length: 16 hrs and 21 mins
4 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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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.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2017-09-13

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.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Matthew T Shank
  • 2018-09-21

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.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful