Hysterical outbursts: Bewitched, by Jill Dawson, reviewed

‘Witch-hunt’ has become a handy metaphor for online persecutions, especially of women, though these days it is reputations that go up in flames rather than bodies. The mob mentality behind the phenomenon may not have changed as much as the medium or the mindset. In retelling a celebrated case from Elizabethan England, Jill Dawson enters thoroughly into her characters’ religious world view, while giving a meaningful glance at the issues of today. The fate of the Warboys witches – three members of one family – was recounted in prurient pamphlets of the time, but Dawson colours in the crude woodcut of history with passionate emotions and plausible motivations. As she

Accusations of racism have lost all meaning

The War on the West is Douglas Murray’s latest blast against loony left wokery, chiefly in the areas of race and ‘social justice’. ‘This is not like earlier wars,’ he writes. ‘It is a cultural war, and it is being waged remorselessly against all the roots of the western tradition and against everything good that the western tradition has produced.’ The meticulous, measured way that Murray presents his arguments and evidence suggests a man who knows he’s in for a lot of flak. For instance, he has the audacity to suggest that the death of George Floyd, however brutal and inept the policing, doesn’t actually bear any signs of racism.

Mass hysteria in Massachusetts: the 17th-century witch crisis in America

One September day in 1649, in the frontier town of Springfield, Massachusetts, Anthony Dorchester returned from church to the house he and his wife shared with a couple called Hugh and Mary Parsons. He went to check on a cow’s tongue he was boiling for dinner but to his surprise it wasn’t in the pot. He searched high and low but couldn’t find it. Mary told him that her husband had sneaked off mysteriously on the way to the meeting house and was now nowhere to be seen. Given that the two men had argued about possession of the tongue, the obvious conclusion would surely be that Hugh had stolen