Friday, September 25, 2015

From Fiction to History: 'The Heretic's Daughter'

Fiction: The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

 Sarah Carrier, the young daughter of Martha Carrier, feels constantly at odds with her little world, where work and life are hard but not always that long. But the trials of childhood are nothing compared to the brutality and danger that sweeps into Salem, Massachusetts as the hysteria over witchcraft takes hold of the small village. Sarah's mother is one of the first to be accused and imprisoned on the charges of witchcraft, and Sarah can do little to help her mother--or avoid suspicion herself. Kathleen Kent is a 10th generation descendant of Martha Carrier, which makes this fictional take from Sarah's point of view even more poignant.

History: The Salem Witch Trials, a Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege by Marilynne K. Roach

'The Salem Witch Trials' is an incredibly thorough look at the Salem Witch Trials through a day by day chronicle of Salem Village in 1692 and 1693. Each entry includes information about any important happenings in the village that day, known weather conditions, as well as other pertinent information designed to give the reader an inside look at Salem, its inhabitants, and the trials that made the village infamous. Marilynne K. Roach's book places the events in Salem in their chronological context, allowing readers to have a clearer view of what happened--and, in many cases, a clearer look at why it may have happened.

History: A Storm of Witchcraft, The Salem Witch Trials and the American Experience by Emerson W. Baker

In A Storm of Witchcraft, Emerson Baker argues that the Salem Witch Trials were the result of a "perfect storm" rather than one particular factor, such as the popular theories regarding ergot poisoning or hysteria influencing the girls of Salem to accuse others of witchcraft. A Storm of Witchcraft takes a look at the events in Salem--and the American colonies as a whole during this time period, which saw a general rise in accusations of witchcraft--through a broader political and historical context. Baker also explores how the trials have inspired an enduring legacy, despite early attempts by the Puritan government to suppress the trial from the public mind.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

From Fiction to History: Book Recommendations ('In the Shadow of Blackbirds')

Fiction: In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

When 16-year old Mary Shelley Black is sent to live with her aunt after her father is imprisoned for refusing to fight in the war, she finds once familiar streets and people forever changed. The war and the influenza epidemic have cast a black shroud over every aspect of life, and people increasingly turn to the supernatural in their bleakest moments.  Mary agrees to sit for a "spirit photograph" for an old friend who proclaims he can contact the dead, though the science-minded Mary doesn't take much stock in the otherworldly. But when the ghost of a soldier begins to visit her, Mary is forced to reconsider her personal views--and find a way to ease his restless spirit.

History: Faces of the Living Dead: The Belief in Spirit Photography by Martyn Jolly

In 'Faces of the Living Dead,' Martyn Jolly takes a look at the development and practice of spirit photography from its earliest forms in the 1870s through the 1930s, when the practice finally fell out of favor. In addition to exploring the 'whys' behind people's desire to belief in photographs of their loved one's spirits, Jolly goes into detail about how photographers used various tricks and techniques to create their unique images.

History: The Great Influenza, The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John M. Barry

The influenza pandemic of 1918 killed three to five percent of the world's population in just over one year and affected just about every corner of the globe. The pandemic is considered to be one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history and is notable not just for the sheer number of deaths and infections, but for the fact that young, healthy adults were more likely to succumb to the disease than children or the elderly. The Great Influenza by John M. Barry is an extensive, comprehensive look at how the pandemic began, why it was able to spread so far and fast, and what we can learn from the '1918 flu' in preparation for future pandemics.