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Spirited fun by a scholar of superstition, Spellbound presents a tale of magic certain to enlighten, amuse and occasionally horrify. Intricately bound up with the rise of civilizations, politics, religion, medicine, and culture-discover the historic events and ancient rituals behind magic.
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Adult/High School-This attractive, fact-filled volume offers a bracing and clear-headed approach to an often-confusing subject. A scholar of religious history, the author shows that science, religion, and magic "have always enjoyed a more complex relationship behind the scenes than their manifestos would suggest." Alexander's own perspective is unequivocally that of the scientist: there are few paranormal thrills here, but neither will readers find justification for religious dogma, and the treatment of myth isn't really aimed at the Joseph Campbell crowd, either. Yet teens can be entertained, challenged, and enlightened as the author demystifies many traditionally occult subjects, and they might be inspired to think more critically about contemporary beliefs. The book's brevity could disappoint, and certain conclusions irritate, some knowledgeable readers, but Alexander's broad cultural perspective and tolerant insight into human psychology inspire confidence and command respect. The subject covered in the most depth is witch-hunting, and these chapters serve as a powerful warning (both to potential finger-pointers and accused) of the appalling human cost of such campaigns. Abundant illustrations, from ancient times to Harry Potter, reflect a wide range of topics and relate cleverly to the text. With its solid content, stylish graphics, and eye-catching sidebars, Spellbound can be browsed casually or read cover to cover. Whatever attitudes they bring to the book, teens will find much good information and a trustworthy foundation for further study.
Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Alexander, who has a Ph.D. in medieval history, here offers a popular introduction to the history of magic and its intricate connections to the rise of civilization. He covers the origins of magic in the ancient Middle East and Egypt, classical approaches in Greece and Rome, the Christian encounter with magic, medieval concerns about the magical gifts of nonconformists, the famous 15th-century witch hunter's text Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches), and the modern persistence of magical beliefs. Much of the book is dedicated to the development of popular notions about witchcraft. Alexander concludes that though moderns may yearn for a world of magic, it has always been an illusion that springs from human hopes and fears. The book contains many illustrations and photographs, including some from such films as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Jason and the Argonauts. Libraries should already have reference works on the subject by Richard Cavendish, such as Encyclopedia of the Unexplained and A History of Magic, as well as works on Houdini and by the skeptic James Randi. This useful, accessible overview is recommended for public libraries. William P. Collins, Library of Congress
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description GRANGE BOOKS, 2002. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M1840135212