Cover image for Witches and witch-hunts : a history of persecution
Title:
Witches and witch-hunts : a history of persecution
Author:
Meltzer, Milton, 1915-2009.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Blue Sky Press, [1999]

©1999
Physical Description:
128 pages ; 22 cm
Summary:
Traces the origins and progression of hysteria, fear, and persecution associated with witches and witchcraft in western societies.
Language:
English
Reading Level:
1100 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 8.5 4.0 34761.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 9 5 Quiz: 17145 Guided reading level: NR.
ISBN:
9780590485173
Format :
Book

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BF1566 .M33 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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BF1566 .M33 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Summary

Summary

Famous for his coverage of controversial subjects, Milton Meltzer explores the devastation that witch-hunts have caused throughout history and uncovers the truth behind the frenzy, prejudice and discrimination.


Author Notes

Historian Milton Meltzer was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1915. He attended Columbia University, but had to leave during his senior year because of the Great Depression. He got a job writing for the WPA Federal Theater Project. During World War II, he served as an air traffic controller in the Army Air Corps. After the war, he worked as a writer for CBS radio and in public relations for Pfizer.

In 1956, he published his first book A Pictorial History of the Negro American, which was co-written by Langston Hughes. They also collaborated on Langston Hughes: A Biography, which was published in 1968 and received the Carter G. Woodson award. During his lifetime, he wrote more than 110 books for young people including Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? about the stock market crash that led to the Great Depression; Never to Forget about the Holocaust; and There Comes a Time about the Civil Rights movement. He also addressed such topics as crime, ancient Egypt, the immigrant experience, labor movements, photography, piracy, poverty, racism, and slavery. He wrote numerous biographies including ones on Mary McLeod Bethune, Lydia Maria Child, Dorothea Lange, Margaret Sanger, and Henry David Thoreau. He received the 2000 Regina Medal and the 2001 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for his body of work and his lasting contribution to children's literature. He died of esophageal cancer on September 19, 2009 at the age of 94.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-9. Whether based on gender, religion, politics, or some other separating factor, suspicion and scapegoating have ignited persecution throughout history. In a careful, quiet chronicle, Meltzer shares the charges and "confessions" of witches through stories that reach back as far as the early fourteenth century, when Lady Alice of Kyteler, a wealthy widow, was accused of consorting with the Devil. Meltzer approaches his subject from a number of perspectives: he brings in well-known accounts about Joan of Arc and seventeenth-century New England and ties them together with Shakespeare's witches, suspicions about strong women, and the use of herbal medicines. He makes thematic connections between Salem, Massachusetts, and the twentieth century in chapters on Hitler's Germany and Senator Joseph McCarthy's hearings, in which the need for scapegoats led us down familiar historical paths. His accounting of the tortures of accused witches is frank but never graphic. The slim volume's eerie jacket will draw some readers. Source notes; bibliography. --Randy Meyer


Publisher's Weekly Review

Meltzer (Never to Forget: The Jews of the Holocaust) crams a lot of ideas and insights into this ambitious, unusually meaty survey of witch-hunts from medieval Europe to 20th-century America. Some of his perceptions are piercing in their simplicity and acuity: for example, he posits that a believer in witchcraft is not satisfied by an explanation of how some misfortune has occurred; the believer wants to know why the misfortune has befallen him or her. Meltzer supplies superb documentation, as in a letter smuggled out of a 17th-century German prison describing exactly how its author had been forced to confess to witchcraft and to implicate others. However, Meltzer leaves an uncharacteristic number of gaps, both small and large. There are incomplete statements of fact (e.g., he writes, "When Christianity became the state religion back in the early fourth century," while referring to Europe in general); and some material is inadequately analyzed (e.g., he balances a discussion of the prejudice directed at midwives by citing a 17th-century English midwife's handbook, but he doesn't indicate the influence or reception of that book). In the contemporary sections, the comparisons of Inquisition-style witch-hunts with the persecution of Jews under Hitler and of Communists under McCarthy are sketched out rather than closely reasoned√Ąthey form a starting point rather than a conclusion. Given the breadth of Meltzer's thesis and his wide variety of perspectives (feminist, anthropological, etc.), it is perhaps not surprising that depth suffers; fortunately, what is presented has color and bite, more than enough to get readers thinking on their own. Ages 8-14. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Gr 6-9-Fear of witches and the harm they can accomplish through witchcraft is centuries old. This history details some of the well-documented cases of persecutions in Europe and America. Along the way, specific characteristics of witches and powers attributed to them by suspicious neighbors are revealed. Quotes from accused witches and accounts of witch trials illuminate the relentless persecutions that have taken place, especially against women, children, and other traditionally helpless people. Meltzer makes a unique connection between historic witch-hunts and 20th-century horrors including Hitler's Holocaust and Joseph McCarthy's "Red Scare" caused by fear of the perceived power of a particular group of people. Chapter source notes and an extensive bibliography complete this fascinating study.-Ann G. Brouse, Big Flats Branch Library, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.