Books: Spectral Evidence

WITCHCRAFT AT SALEM by Chadwick Hansen. 252 pages. Braziller. $6.95.

The year 1692 was a very bad year for the town of Salem, Mass. During a summer of superstitious hysteria, grim events took place there that have permanently tarnished the popular American memory of its Puritan past. According to widely accepted tradition, the whole thing was whipped up by Cotton Mather and the lesser clergymen of a frowning theocracy. Before it was over, the story goes, 19 men and women were convicted and hanged as witches, and one man was pressed to death beneath large rocks for refusing to plead. The tradition...

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