Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum's 1976 release Salem Possessed provides the true story of the Salem Witch trials of late 1600's. Specifically, it tells of nineteen tormented girls who end up swinging from the gallows, accused of committing witchcraft. Broadly, though, it tells the story of families and communities who are deeply divided, who struggle to find their identity and to cope with the many intense changes around them.
Much of Boyer and Nissenbaum's respective careers focused on Puritanism, its effects, and the Salem Witch Trials, so it's no surprise that the two chose to write a book based on the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. With all this in mind, the duo's collaborative project naturally garnered considerable interest and attention upon release.
The book was met with great critical acclaim. It was nominated for the National Book Award for History and is regarded as one of the best accounts of the Salem Witch Trials ever written. Says Keith Thomas of The New York Review of Books: "This sensitive, intelligent, and well-written book will certainly revive interest in the terrible happenings at Salem.”