Malcolm Gaskill is Emeritus Professor of Early Modern History at the University of East Anglia. One of Britain's leading experts in the history of witchcraft, his works include the highly acclaimed Witchfinders- A Seventeenth-Century English Tragedy and Between Two Worlds- How the English Became Americans.
A bona fide historical classic ... Historical writing of the very
highest class, impeccably researched and written with supreme
imagination and wisdom.
Unforgettable ... Whether you read The Ruin of All Witches for a startling insight into another age, or see its portrait of mob hysteria and witch-hunts as darkly analogous to our own uneasy times, this is one of those rare history books that stays with you and haunts you long after you have turned the last page. Superb.
The genius of Gaskill's book lies in his meticulous piecing together of daily life in New England ... Gaskill tells this deeply tragic story with immense empathy and compassion, as well as historical depth. A compelling study that offers a chilling insight into human nature in an age of superstition.
Breathtaking ... a great story, exquisitely told. I had to reread certain sentences aloud, just to savour their insight and cadence ... This book is history at its illuminative best.
The narrative is as compelling as a campfire story ... This is deeply atmospheric writing, carefully sourced ... As with the best history, the lessons of Springfield's past may serve to inform the citizens of a still-divided and conflicted nation.
Evocative right from the start, the reader is drawn in and excited in both body and mind ... It's a feast ... a valuable gift to every reader of history.
*BBC History Magazine*
A portrait of a community during one of the first Puritan witch panics in the New World - and a timeless study of how paranoia, superstition and social unrest fuel fantasies ... Mr Gaskill's immersive approach brings the fate of his subjects movingly to life.
Simply one of the best history books I have ever read ... His deeply imaginative, empathetic and yet empirical exploration of a past moment of crisis is history at its finest.
A rich and beautifully written microhistory ... a work of remarkable historical reconstruction.
Malcolm Gaskill shows us with filmic vividness the daily life of the riven, marginal community of Springfield, where settlers from a far country dwell on the edge of the unknown. The clarity of his thought and his writing, his insight, and the immediacy of the telling, combine to make this the best and most enjoyable kind of history writing. Malcolm Gaskill goes to meet the past on its own terms and in its own place, and the result is thought-provoking and absorbing.
A surefooted and gripping narrative ... Gaskill's Springfield joins Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie's Montaillou, Tony Wrigley's Colyton and other places of little intrinsic importance which for one reason or another have been immortalised by modern historiography... There is currently no memorial for Hugh and Mary Parsons in Springfield like those which have been erected in other places where witches were hunted. Perhaps they will get one now.
*London Review of Books*
Reads with the fluency of a novel ... Crucially, Gaskill writes to make us see the world as those early Puritans saw it; how their own psychological fears, of financial ruin, of neighbours, of Native Americans and the hostile elements, could seed the first accusations of witchcraft.
*The New Humanist*
An impressively researched account, bringing to life the fears and preoccupations of obscure and humble people, and setting them in the context of their time and place.
Powerfully evocative, a grimly compelling morality tale with more than one unexpected twist ... an outstanding achievement, haunting, revelatory and superbly written - a strong contender for the best history book of 2021.
A pulsating history of sorcery and superstition ... an academic feat but reads like a Stephen King thriller - and it's just right for our conspiracy-laden times.
A riveting micro-history, brilliantly set within the broader social and cultural history of witchcraft. Drawing on previously neglected source material, this book is elegantly written and full of intelligent analysis.
*Wolfson History Prize 2022*