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Malcom Gaskill’s latest book, The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World is a true and fascinating account of a little-known episode of witchcraft in Springfield, Massachusetts–a remote town 100 miles west of Boston–which took place 40 years before the infamous Salem witch trials of 1692.
Gaskill vividly paints the environment of these pioneers: “…[they] labored to cultivate both land and a new way of living together, only too aware of how closely their fragile world was overseen by God and existed at his mercy. They contended with waves of epidemics, severe flooding and constant tension with the Native Americans they called ‘Indians,’ whose possessions they appropriated. They also clashed with the Dutch traders into whose territory they strayed, and with English planters further down the Connecticut River Valley. Mostly, however, they clashed with their own neighbors, competing furiously for material advantage: farmland, livestock, wealth and power.” Highly recommended. (hardcover, 2023)
“History book of the year,” said The Sunday Times of London, while two-time Booker Prize winner, the late Dame Hilary Mantel, said, “Malcom Gaskill shows us with filmic vividness the daily life of the riven, marginal community of Springfield, where settlers from a far country dwell on the edge of the unknown…thought-provoking and absorbing.”