Massachusetts settlers led difficult lives; every player in the Salem drama endured hardships barely imaginable today. Mercy Short, one of the “bewitched” girls, watched as Indians butchered her parents; Puritan minister Cotton Mather outlived all but three of his fifteen children. Such tragedies shaped behavior and, as Foulds argues, ultimately played a part in the witch hunt’s outcome. A compelling “who’s who” to Salem witchcraft, Death in Salem profiles each of these historical personalities as it asks: Why was this person targeted?
Diane E. Foulds, a tenth-generation descendent one of those hanged in Salem in 1692, is the author of three books, including Curious New England and Vermont: An Explorer's Guide. Her articles have appeared in the Boston Globe, Washington Post, and Yankee magazine.