3rd Edition

The Story of the Salem Witch Trials

By Bryan Le Beau Copyright 2023
    296 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    296 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Providing an accessible and comprehensive overview, The Story of the Salem Witch Trials explores the events between June 10 and September 22, 1692, when nineteen people were hanged, one was pressed to death and over 150 were jailed for practicing witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts.

    This book explores the history of that event and provides a synthesis of the most recent scholarship on the subject. It places the trials into the context of the Great European Witch-Hunt and relates the events of 1692 to witch-hunting throughout seventeenth-century New England. Now in a third edition, this book has been updated to include an expanded section on the European origins of witch-hunts, an updated and expanded epilogue (which discusses the witch-hunts, real and imagined, historical and cultural, since 1692), and an extensive bibliography.

    This complex and difficult subject is covered in a uniquely accessible manner that captures all the drama that surrounded the Salem witch trials. From beginning to end, the reader is carried along by the author’s powerful narration and mastery of the subject. While covering the subject in impressive detail, Bryan Le Beau maintains a broad perspective on the events and, wherever possible, lets the historical characters speak for themselves. Le Beau highlights the decisions made by individuals responsible for the trials that helped turn what might have been a minor event into a crisis that has held the imagination of students of American history. This third edition of The Story of the Salem Witch Trials is essential for students and scholars alike who are interested in women’s and gender history, colonial American history, and early modern history.

    1. "A Biography of a Terrible but Perfectly Normal Superstition" 2. "Having Familiarity with the Devil" 3. "The Evil Hand" is upon Them 4. "Is not This a Brand Plucked from the Burning?" 5. "If They are let Alone We should all be Devils and Witches" 6. "God will Deliver us out of the Hands of Unmerciful Men" 7. "God will Give you Blood to Drink" 8. "What a Sad Thing it is to See Eight Firebrands of Hell Hanging There" 9. "It Were Better That Ten Suspected Witches Should Escape, Than That One Innocent Person Should Be Condemned" 10. "Ruined in the Mistaken Management of the Terrible Affair Called Witchcraft"


    Bryan F. Le Beau, Ph.D. is the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of History from the University of Saint Mary, retired. He is the author of several books on American cultural and religious history, including: A History of Religion in America (2 vols., 2018)

    "Bryan Le Beau’s The Story of the Salem Witchcraft Trials is a thoughtful, comprehensive account of an event that continues to fascinate both historians and the general public. Situating his narrative in a global context, Le Beau offers readers a judicious synthesis of the best interpretations of Salem’s witchcraft scare. Even as he gives readers the "big picture," he nevertheless refuses to forget the importance of the individuals who made the decisions that led to Salem’s conflict with "the Devil." Narrative history at its best, The Story of the Salem Witchcraft Trials, offers us a fascinating, lively overview of the Salem experience."

    Sheila Skemp Clare, Marquette Professor of American History Emerita. University of Mississippi. 

    "Bryan Le Beau’s exploration of the Salem Witch-Hunt is the most accessible book on the subject aimed at general audiences and students alike.  Le Beau deftly incorporates the findings and conclusions reached in the most recent scholarship and puts the hysteria that gripped eastern Massachusetts in 1692 and 1692 into a broader context that makes this event more than a simple eruption of medievalism in early Anglo-America.  The Story of the Salem Witch Trials serves as an excellent gateway leading into a complex time and place in American history that deserves sustained analysis."

    John Howard Smith, Professor of History, Texas A & M University-Commerce

    "The third edition of the Bryan Le Beau’s book should serve as a most useful guidebook and impartial arbiter of the voluminous literature and conflicting theories surrounding the Salem Witch Trials. Le Beau has done us all a great service by keeping abreast of the scads of new research that has been done over the past decade or so. He has also updated the references to be compatible with the latest and most comprehensive collection of primary documents. Overall, his contextual approach—giving us the necessary European and Colonial backgrounds—is most welcome. His expertise in American religious history makes his preceptive analysis all the most persuasive."

    Elijah Siegler, Professor of Religious Studies, College of Charleston