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Witchfinders By Malcolm Gaskill

by Malcolm Gaskill

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A chilling history of the witch-trials that gripped mid-Seventeenth century England, embodied by the crusading Matthew Hopkins, self-elected scourge of witches.
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Witchfinders Summary

Witchfinders by Malcolm Gaskill

In the spring of 1645, at the height of the English Civil War, a minor gentleman from Essex named Matthew Hopkins initiated the most savage witch-hunt in English history. By the autumn of 1647 at least 250 East Anglian innocents -- most of them women -- had been captured, interrogated and hauled before the courts. More than a hundred were convicted, condemned and hanged. Their alleged crimes ranged from destroying property and inflicting fatal illnesses, to feeding animal familiars with blood and having sexual intercourse with the devil. Accompanied by John Stearne, a godly neighbour from his parish, the twenty-two-year-old Hopkins toured the eastern counties on horseback, meticulously extracting evidence of satanic pacts and dispatching suspects for trial. Hopkins fashioned himself into the 'Witch Finder General' although the torture techniques used had no justification in religion or law, nor was his campaign officially sanctioned. The witch-hunt was an extraordinary event, and would long be remembered as the poisonous fruit of religious extremism, grown wild in a political vacuum, never to be repeated.Witchfinders tells the true and terrible story of Matthew Hopkins and his horrifying crusade as witch-hunting fever gripped the country. Malcolm Gaskill uses his great story-telling talents to bring mid-seventeenth century alive.

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Witchfinders Reviews

Gaskill has become an expert on the Great British witch-hunt ... a completely readable non-fiction book on a gripping subject.' -- Suffolk Journal, Norfolk Journal, The Essex Magazi 20050301 'Very highly recommended' -- The Couldron 20050508 'It is a riveting subject, engagingly told, and worth a read.' -- Catholic Herald 20050513 'This is a terrible tale marvellously told ... This is how history should be known.' -- the oldie 20050507 'A very lucid and humane writer' -- Hilary Mantel 'He writes with sympathy, respect and deep human understanding' -- John Guy, Sunday Times 'A must ... a lucid companion piece to the classic horror movie Witchfinder General.' -- Guardian 20050506 'Gaskill presents a compassionate, measured view dispelling several myths along the way.' -- Independent on Sunday 20050501 'A wonderfully detailed, well-written and judicious account of a tragic yet fascinating episode in our social and religious history' -- Saul David, Daily Telegraph 20050501 'A brilliant new study ... In the vivid three-dimensionality of its dramatis personae, the eloquence of its writing, and the richness of its evocations of vanished worlds of landscape and belief ... Gaskill displays a masterly wizardry all his own' -- John Adamson, Sunday Telegraph 20050501 'He's a very lucid and human writer, very good at setting the social context, helping you understand how the phenomenon of witchfinders came out of the dislocation of the civil war.' -- Independent on Sunday 20050501 'Gives the ordinary reader a visceral sense of mid-seventeenth-century England ... satisfyingly complex' -- Selina O'Grady, Literary Review 20050401 'The incessant peculiarity of the accusations could easily make the stories told in this book seem quaint rather than horrific. But Gaskill avoids this trap by describing each case in a vivid manner, making one aware at all times of the human tragedy. His description of a hanging, for instance could leave no reader unmoved' -- Craig Brown, Book of the Week, Mail on Sunday 20050401 'Gaskill tells the story of the witch-hunt in full and accurate detail, for the first time, and with uncommon skill ... His book is both a solid contribution to knowledge and a splendid example of history as gripping literature' -- Ronald Hutton, Independent 20050401 'Gaskill vivdly shows how the barbarity and fanaticism of civil war could spill over into the administration of justice ... He writes with sympathy, respect and deep human understanding.' -- Sunday Times 20050508 'Malcolm Gaskill patiently untangles the history of East Anglian witchcraft' -- Guardian 20050507 an 'evocative travelogue...setpieces of rich desription' -- TLS 20050812 'The book is a timely warning for those who think that witch trials are a matter of history.' -- The Times 20050726 'A chilling history of the witch-trials' -- History Today 20050501 'A fascinating history of the infamous witch-hunts and their main protagonist, Mathew Hopkins. This book is easily labelled as essential for anyone with an interest in the macabre! less obviously, it's also a good expose (and timely reminder) of how large-scale tragedies can occur once the right mix of circumstances are present' -- Irish Times 20050501 '[Gaskill's] meticulously researched book paints a vivid picture of a horrific period in English history and its causes' -- Lucy Land, Essex Life & Countryside 20050501

About Malcolm Gaskill

Malcolm Gaskill was born in Suffolk but grew up in Kent. He attended Cambridge University where he read History. He completed a PhD on early modern England, then taught at Keele, Belfast and APU, before becoming Director of Studies in History at Churchill College, Cambridge, in 1999.

Additional information

Witchfinders by Malcolm Gaskill
Malcolm Gaskill
Used - Like New
Hodder & Stoughton General Division
Book picture is for illustrative purposes only, actual binding, cover or edition may vary.
The book has been read, but looks new. The book cover has no visible wear, and the dust jacket is included if applicable. No missing or damaged pages, no tears, possible very minimal creasing, no underlining or highlighting of text, and no writing in the margins.