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July 27 , 2008

A Fever in Salem

A New Interpretation of the New England Witch Trials


This new interpretation of the New England Witch Trials offers an innovative, well-grounded explanation of witchcraft's link to organic illness. While most historians have concentrated on the accused, Laurie Winn Carlson focuses on the afflicted. Systematically comparing the symptoms recorded in colonial diaries and court records to those of the encephalitis epidemic in the early twentieth century, she argues convincingly that the victims suffered from the same disease. A unique blend of historical epidemiology and sociology. —Katrina L. Kelner, Science. Meticulously researched...the author marshalls her arguments with clarity and persuasive force. —New Yorker

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