Witch: A Tale of Terror

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643 Ratings

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4 out of 5 stars
By aspidistra on 25-02-17

more Sam, please

What made the experience of listening to Witch: A Tale of Terror the most enjoyable?

Sam's choices from the text, and delightful reading.

Any additional comments?

I'd like to encourage Sam to do more short audiobooks like this where he excerpts some of his favorite books, does a preface, and then reads selections. I'd buy them all.

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10 of 10 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Karl Boone on 25-02-17

Interesting and informative

If you could sum up Witch: A Tale of Terror in three words, what would they be?

Shocking and horrifying

What was one of the most memorable moments of Witch: A Tale of Terror?

Covers in grim detail a dark and superstitious era in Europe that happened from the 12th to late into the 17th century.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

What really surprised me was that the crusaders were charged for witch craft, and later Joan of Arc. Along with the inhumanly way self-proclaimed morale people treated those accused of a non-crime. Along with the ways they used a "holy" book to justify their cruelty.

Any additional comments?

It's an informative book to listen to and Sam Harris does a great job imparting the information in the book.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By A Stevens on 25-02-17

An uncomfortable reminder of the power of belief

This well-produced audiobook is introduced and read by author & neuroscientist, Sam Harris, who is also host of the very popular 'Waking Up' podcast. Harris' experience as a podcast host, reader of the audiobook versions of several of his own books and leading light across a diverse field of important public conversations and debates shines through in his measured yet compelling reading.

The subject material concerns the 'Witch Mania' of Early Modern Europe, as described by Charles Mackay in his seminal 1841 book, 'Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds'. The quality of Mackay's writing is excellent and the detailed picture he paints of this extraordinarily tragic (and often gruesome) period (which for Mackay - and even, to some extent, for us now - was relatively recent) conveys in almost palpable terms the ability of individuals and societies to drive themselves into an ever-deeper ditch of terrible suffering when the wheels of their beliefs (which drive their behaviour and much of their experience of the world) run-off the rails of reason.

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7 of 8 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Jon on 21-01-17

Couldn't stop listening!!!

Well written, well read, overall - great work!

I think it is very important to keep these accounts of suffering in the name of superstition available to our society, in an effort to rid our species of these atrocities in the future.

Once again, Sam Harris has produced an account of factual evidence that so clearly demonstrates the power of belief.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Jacomien de Klerk on 05-02-17

Unconscionable Christianity - Burning Women

Sam Harris found this and reads it to illustrate a point - how presumably good people do the most terrible things in the name of their religious beliefs. Shocking, mortifying, stomach-turning, and more relevant than ever in these theocratic times. Five stars on every count.

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6 of 8 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Neuron on 28-12-17

Only witches talk to themselves…

This is an excerpt from the book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay. He wrote this book in 1841, almost 200 years ago. Based on the excerpt, the title more or less says it all. The book, which has a slightly catalog-esque feel to it, describes a number of cases where a person, usually a woman or a girl, was accused of being a witch. It also gives you a brief history of witch hunts - from its peak in the beginning of the 17th century to the end in the late 18th century (although in some countries people still believe in witches).

It is entertaining in - a macabre kind of way – to read about the witch trials. Although I have read a fair amount about witches, I am still amazed every time I read about the trials. Witness accounts in which someone claimed to have seen a cat that looked like the accused were taken seriously. Experts claimed that if you talk at loud to yourself then you are definitively possessed by a demon and must, therefore, be a witch. I am guessing that to some extent the witch hunts were a way to satisfy the crowd's lust for blood and their desire for vengeance over the extreme hardships in their life. We should keep this in mind today when people on social media seem to think that they are better jurors than the people working within the judicial system.

If you want a brief introduction to the history of the witch-hunt, with a European bias, then this book is a good buy. However, you can get more detailed accounts (remember that this is an excerpt) and while the book has a Sam Harris feel to it, only small parts of it were actually authored by him.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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