The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff is an exhaustive (and at times, exhausting) account of the accusations, imprisonment, trials and executions of fourteen women and five men. It’s a story we all think we know, but Schiff places us in this world so completely, we can feel the chilly air and hear the howling of dogs at night.
For many folks, the word “library” conjures up a quiet building full of books and periodicals, perhaps offering a place for community activities, and branching out into digital media in recent years. This image of libraries as conservative organizations, slow to respond to changes, slow to offer new services, is very well-established. And entirely wrong.
Sometimes a new bestseller leads to older books. Reading Michael Eric Dyson’s Tears We Cannot Stop led me to browse for his recommended reading, which led me to Douglas A. Blackmon’s Slavery By Another Name: the Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II. The book won a Pulitzer in 2009, and PBS made a documentary in 2012.