Riding the Nightmare (review)

by Jenny Gibbons

_Riding the Nightmare: Women and Witchcraft from the Old World to Colonial Salem_ by Selma Williams and Pamela Williams Adelman.

Two hundred pages of silliness, stereotypes, and misinformation.

RtN claims to be an overview of the connection between women and Witchcraft. Instead, it's a disjointed, episodic book that just talks about a couple of subjects that caught the authors' interest.

The authors display a mind-boggling ability to get the facts completely backwards, usually because of their prejudices. For example, they state that few Witches were killed during the reign of Queen Elizabeth because Elizabeth, as a woman, identified with Witches and tried to protect them. In reality, Elizabeth killed more Witches than any other English monarch. Witch-hunting only got worse during the English Civil War, when the Essex craze hit.

This sort of misinformation is surrounded by an endless stream of sexism. Like many careless researchers, the authors assume that all Witches were women, and all Witch-hunters men. And so they spend much of their time, dumping on men and making useless, stereotypical generalizations about them.

On a scale of 1 to 10, this book gets a solid 1. It's a shame that trees died to perpetuate this misinformation and sexism.