The Witch - A History of Fear, from Ancient Times to the Present - Ronald Hutton

Yale Press


The Witch: A History of Fear, from Ancient Times to the Present by Ronald Hutton / ISBN 9780300238679 / 376-page paperback from Penguin


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

"Traces the idea of witches far beyond the Salem witch trials to beliefs and attitudes about witches around the world throughout history.”—Los Angeles Times

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 stake.

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.

“For anyone researching the subject, this is the book you’ve been waiting for.”—Washington Post

“Magisterial . . . Hutton concerns himself with the bad, black version of the craft that has terrified poor souls for centuries. His approach blends a broad geographic sweep with the detailed attention of microhistory.”—Kathryn Hughes, Guardian

“[A] panoptic, penetrating book.”—Malcolm Gaskill, London Review of Books

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