Award-winning author Stephen Hawley Martin grew up wondering whether or not his seven-times great grandmother, Susannah North Martin, really had been practicing witchcraft back in the seventeenth century. After all, she was hanged for it. So he delved into the historical record and found that a great deal of information is available. As a result of his research, he suspects some of those hanged during the Salem Witchcraft hysteria had been practicing magic. He also came to believe the commonly-held belief is off the mark that the victims of the witches faked their symptoms. This is the true story from a twenty-first century perspective of Susannah Martin and the others who were executed, including recent findings of research into the paranormal.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Stephen Hawley Martin, a successful business leader before becoming a full-time writer, has a knack for keeping readers turning pages. This is especially true of this book, which is an award-winning finalist in the Best Books 2006 Awards competition. Martin credits the ancestor he writes about, who was an accused witch, has having fostered his sense of independence and daring-do. His inherent unwillingness to go along with the crowd has also prompted him to offer up a new theory about what caused the witch hysteria of 1692.
We recently had a conversation with him about his new book.
"The first family discussion I remember started with an English lesson. 'Pictures are hung,' my mother told me. 'People are hanged.' I lived with those discussions constantly and they had a definite effect on my world view. For example, as an outward display of contempt for what my mom and dad considered a narrow-minded and dangerously-superstitious world view, they named my sister 'Susannah North Martin' after the family martyr."
Martin's book is a fascinating and enthralling read. The feedback we've had so far has been nothing but positive.
"What happened in New England long ago was tragic and horrific," Martin said. "And if someone you are directly descended from was caught up in it and actually killed by it, you might say it makes you look at things differently. For one thing, you don't automatically assume people in authority know what they're talking about. It's given me the tendency to keep my own counsel and to hold off on accepting conventional wisdom until some evidence or pattern causes it to click into place in my gut."
It has also led Martin to dismiss the usual explanations for the witch hysteria of 1692. "It definitely wasn't ergot of rye, and I have a hard time believing all the accusers were faking their symptoms," Martin said. "One vomited blood in court in front of the judges and a whole courtroom full of spectators. Others had deep skin lesions that appeared to have been made by human teeth. Some coughed up pins."
What does Martin think led to the witch hysteria that left two dozen dead?
"Like most things, a combination of factors brought it about," Martin said. "But the most powerful single element was belief. Just about everyone in Massachusetts at that time believed witchcraft was real. And you know what? In a society that fully believes in witchcraft, witchcraft has power -- it is real. In primitive societies, for example, it's been documented that people have dropped dead after being cursed by a shaman."
Does that mean there really were witches in Massachusetts?
"Oh, there were witches in New England all right," Martin said. "But that doesn't mean the people who were hanged were witches, or that the accused were actually bewitched." Martin smiled. "To find out what really happened, you're going to have to read my book."From the Back Cover:
Two-hundred and thirty-six years before the first TV station was granted a license, the ultimate reality show ran daily in Salem, Massachusetts. On June 29, 1692, Susannah North Martin was voted off the series. By a jury of her peers. To be hanged by the neck until dead, for witchcraft.
But was she a witch or an early feminist who was hanged as one? Was she a felon or a victim of superstition, paranoia and mass hysteria? Was she consorting with the devil, or was she tapping into another level of reality?
In this book, prizewinning author Stephen Hawley Martin takes you back to a world that believed witchcraft was real and witches were to be feared, shunned, and put to death. Join him as he investigates his ancestor's trial and execution and arrives at a plausible but shocking explanation - never before revealed in print - of what really happened.
If you're into reality, whatever you do, don't miss this book. It's must-see . . . reading.
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description Oaklea Press, 2010. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P11189253844X