Review: Whores of the Devil

Whores of the Devil: Witch-Hunts and Witch-TrialsWhores of the Devil
by Erik Durschmied

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Whores of the Devil / 0-750-94007-7

I own more than a two dozen witch-hunt related books, and have a deep fascination in the subject, but this book is, in my opinion, a complete waste of paper.

First and foremost, this book seems less designed to inform and more designed to be as sensational and graphic as possible. There are many graphic descriptions of rape and child molestation in this book, under the guise of narrating what an accused male witch supposedly did to his many and varied victims. These abuses are just presented as fact, which no sourcing and no critical examination of these charges.

Now, I understand completely when a serious author is simply trying to retain historical details, and that these travesties cannot be glossed over and lost in the mists of history. I completely agree that history must not be whitewashed to obscure the evildoers of our past. However, having said that, the book seems to take great pleasure in describing every possible detail surrounding every rape and child molestation it covers. Many of these individualized stories are not "historical" in the sense that we would think of, but are rather historical fictions where the author has taken a historical fact ("Town sacked; women raped.") and has then churned out prosy, lurid rape scenes based on what *probably* happened to someone, somewhere, during this historical incident. The author seems to enjoy churning out these fictionalized scenes, and the reader is lost in the literary equivalent of a film where violence is being recorded purely for violence's sake.

Looking past the serious issues I have with the way in which this graphic content is presented, I have to take even more serious issue with the author's complete and total lack of reliable sources. Much of this book reads as fiction, and many incidents seem apocryphal at best. I could not find anywhere online a confirmation of nor even a passing reference to the related incident detailing Torquemada's beating at the hands of the vengeful gypsies - and my suspicion was further peaked by the author's insistence that Torquemada had all the witnesses to this intriguing incident killed. If all the witnesses were killed, where did this story come from? This is just one example of many, and I simply cannot suppress the feeling that this book is poorly researched and disturbingly obsessed with sexual violence. I cannot recommend this book at all.

~ Ana Mardoll

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Mats said...

The book is also uncorrect when discussing the swedish trials, Queen Christina actually verififed two death-sentences in the 1650:s.He also write that in the Mora witch-trials over 80 were burned, but the number and method is incorrect.Indeed in swedish witch-trials before the big trials in the 1670:s we had instances of burning alive on the stake but in the big trials only one such sentence has up to date been verified.

He should knoe better as an historian.

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