by Stacy SchiffReviewed by Mia:If you have ever lived in Massachusetts or studied early American history, the story of the paranoia that swept through Salem in 1692 is hardly new. Rather than pointing to psychological causes that may have influenced the villagers of Salem, Schiff takes the Puritan’s universal belief in witchcraft at face value and instead focuses on exploring individual characters and chronicling the events of 1692 as they escalated. One of the triumphs of this book is Schiff’s ability to create portraits of the people involved, while also acknowledging the work that was done to cover up the episode and the way in which history and subsequent artistic interpretations have obscured it. While no images of any of the women who were accused or acted as accusers survive, Schiff makes these individuals feel real. The author will be speaking at Amherst College on Saturday, March 5.