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The Oxford Illustrated History of Witchcraft and Magic: John C Adams Reviews

Book name: The Oxford Illustrated History of Witchcraft and Magic

Author: Owen Davies

Publisher: OUP Oxford

Format: Print, ebook

Genre: Horror, nonfiction

Publication Date: 2017

Star Rating: 5/5

There are some amazing pictures in The Oxford Illustrated History of Witchcraft and Magic, and the hardback version in particular would make a lovely gift.

However, it was the text that drew my close attention.

The style is informative but easy to read, which meant that I enjoyed every page.

The subject matter of witchcraft and magic is dealt with chronologically, beginning with a chapter on Magic in the Ancient World.

There is, at the end of the book, a chapter on witches in film and TV. Midway through, there is also a thematic treatment of witchcraft and magic in European art.

The book is almost entirely focused on witchcraft and magic in Europe, but for its length (just over 300 pages) this restriction on geographical spread was perhaps inevitable.

I liked the fact that the consideration was broader than the typical dual focus on the witchcraft trials and also on medieval times I have encountered in other books on witchcraft and magic.

The chapter on the Rise of Modern Magic was particularly fascinating, discussing Mesmer, Barrett and Crowley among many others.

This chapter ends with modern magic, including discussing current locations of museums devoted to witchcraft and magic and the reaction of local communities to their presence.

Witchcraft and magic in the modern era are discussed fully in the chapter Witchcraft and Magic in the Age of Anthropology.

Here some widening of the geographic focus does occur to include theories of society and religion that encompass Asia and Africa. However, the main focus still remains on Europe.

The Oxford Illustrated History of Witchcraft and Magic was a fascinating guide to the topic. It was thorough but accessible, and the illustrations helped to bring the text to life in a vivid way.

Highly recommended.

Thank you for reading my review.

John C Adams Reviews

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