Good Information, Dull Writing.

The Witches: Salem, 1692 - Stacy Schiff

For some reason an ad for this book suddenly started appearing on Youtube. An ad that seemed to imply it was just coming out when, in fact it has been out for almost a year. Either way, the ad, which was an interview with the author, got me very interested to know more.

Non-fiction books must be very hard to write. You have to stick to the facts as they are known, and if you are speculating, you have to make it clear that what you think may not be true. Stacy Schiff was good at this. What she wasn't good at was making the book interesting. Here is this book, discussing the Salem witch trials, content that is, in its own right, very interesting, but the way it's talked about makes it seem dull. I did learn more about the witch trials then I'd ever known before, and I did get quite a bit of interesting information from the book, but I was dreadfully disappointed that it was not presented better.

The book also had frequent anti-Catholic statements, which I was only willing to excuse because I think that it was intended to be presented as what the Puritans thought of Catholics, but sometimes it wasn't phrased that way so it could have been interpreted to have been the author's opinions.

The strongest parts of this book was when the author was discussing the accused witches, especially those who were killed in the frenzy. It was her discussions of the characters and their motivations that her writing was the most interesting.