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A History Of Witchcraft * Jeffrey B. Russell (1980)

A History Of WitchcraftI got this book from a historian for my birthday and another historian friend was very interested. Since both academics with an interest in darker parts of the past value the author, I asume that Russell is a respected scholar on the field. With that in mind, he is also a gifted writer, since oftentimes I found this book to be a bit too light literature. Indeed, Russell shows himself well informed, since he sprees names, years and dates throughout his writings as if he does everything by heart. The best thing about this book is that Russell has taken the widest possible angle to approach the subject. He does not merely treat the witch-craze, not does he merely wear Christian glasses to look at things. Russell goes from a purely historical approach based on (written) sources from different corners to the social context in which things occured. He looks for the source of different kinds of witchcraft and comes to sometimes surprising conclusions. Most of all: he deals with witchcraft from before the witch-craze to modern times and also the phenomenon world-wide. Inspite of the 190 pages, A History Of Witchcraft is comprehensive both in the topograhical and historical senses, but also in approach. Like I said, the book reads easily (a bit too easily perhaps), but you do not really get the man’s sources and I did not particularly like the part about modern witchcraft. Still, if you want a good book on the subject, this one is easy to get and also cheap to get, even in the Netherlands.
2002 thames & hudson, isbn 0500272425

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