Sunday, June 24, 2007

Pg. 99: "A History of Witchcraft"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: Jeffrey Burton Russell and Brooks Alexander's A History of Witchcraft: Sorcerers, Heretics, Pagans.

About the book, from the publisher:

For nearly thirty years, Jeffrey B. Russell’s authoritative book has been the one illustrated history to which anyone interested in this subject could turn with confidence. Now, in collaboration with Brooks Alexander, who has himself conducted innovative research in the field, this classic book has been fully revised, with an updated introduction and bibliography, new information throughout, and an extended account of witchcraft from ancient times to the present day.

Drawing comparisons between modern sorcery and that of the ancient world, the book shows how the European witch craze in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries developed out of a combination of ancient sorcery and medieval Christian heresy, paganism, folklore, scholastic theology, and inquisitorial trials. Whether the diabolical witchcraft for which men and women went to the stake ever existed is open to question. What matters more is that it was believed to exist by intellectuals and peasants alike.

Among the praise for the book:

"It separates centuries of supernatural nonsense from documented fact ... spellbinding."
Los Angeles Times

“Good stuff …
a useful classic updated for witchcraft aficionados.”
Fortean Times

Jeffrey Burton Russell is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara and author of at least seventeen books. His five-volume history detailing the concept of the Devil is recognized by scholars as the definitive text on the subject. Brooks Alexander is the author of Witchcraft Goes Mainstream and has written numerous articles on witchcraft and neo-paganism and their effect on contemporary religious movements.

The Page 99 Test: A History of Witchcraft: Sorcerers, Heretics, Pagans.

--Marshal Zeringue