HOME > Reviews  
Adam W. Sweeting
Boston University

[Salem] allows readers to participate in the development of Salem from a British Atlantic outpost to a contemporary site of Hispanic immigration.... [It] will leave readers with a broad and comprehensive sense of a city whose place in the popular imagination has been limited to the witch trials, the Hawthorne family, and the odd overlap between the two.

Book News, Inc.

Scholars and artists examine fourteen generations of people associated with the Massachusetts town best known for burning witches, findings clues to patterns and variations of the human condition, and people's relationships with specific places. It can serve as an alternative guidebook for tourists, and as a textbook for a course in American Studies.

Boston Herald
By Stephanie Schorow, 10/31/04

Enough about witches, already. This scholarly volume promises to be an alternative guidebook to Salem. Twelve essays and one poem by New England scholars plumb the city's rich history, its seafaring past and role in American literature. Before all those witch shops and tourist dungeons sprung up, Nathaniel Hawthorne ``helped to create the aura of mystery that to this day helps shape Salem's status as a popular icon.'' Chapters explore Salem's odd characters, mysterious crimes and distinctive architecture. Salem, the authors argue, lives in the American imagination as well as on the North Shore.

Talk About Network

Dane Anthony Morrison is a Professor of history at Salem State College; co-author Nancy Lusignan Schultz is Professor in American Studies and English at the same school; so it's a double treat to receive a scholarly discussion of how a sense of place is created and reinterpreted over time using the history of Salem, Massachusetts as the foundation for scholarly examination. Recommended for college-level students of history, sociology and American culture, Salem: Place, Myth And Memory examines its rich history and how people influence the place from literary interpretations to popular culture.

The Boston Globe
By Michael Kenney, 10/27/04

Salem State College professors Dane Anthony Morrison and Nancy Lusignan Schultz try, in their wide-ranging collection of essays about Salem, ''to move beyond the conventional . . . and reflect on the many ways that a place can be imagined and reinterpreted" -- as architectural mecca, 18th-century enterprise zone and 19th-century global city, and as Nathaniel Hawthorne's ''creation," among others. But they acknowledge that ''few communities . . . have the power of place conferred on Salem by the enshrining events of 1692."

Joseph Conforti
author of Imagining New England: Explorations of Regional Identity from Pilgrims to the Mid-Twentieth Century

It is a lively work that makes a strong contribution to American and New England Studies and to the burgeoning history of local places.... It will appeal to scholars, general readers, and informed tourists.

Wayne Franklin
Davis Distinguished Professor of American Literature and English, Northeastern University

There are Salems in almost every state, but the Ur-Salem of American experience is the incomparable Massachusetts place explored in this rich adn innovative book. Editors Morrison and Schultz have assembled a talented crew of specialists who write about the many things that have gone into creating and imagining it: homespun crimes and far-fetched cargoes, the Hathornes and Hawthornes, the Athenaeum and the many-gabled "House." For any resident or savvy tourist, this book is the essential guide.

Altar Magazine
Reviewed by Katherine Boothroyd

Ok, before I read this book, all that came to mind about Salem was crazy pilgrims running around and witches. So I suppose you could say I was coming from a point of ignorance. After reading the book I can safely say I feel more enlightened. Salem consists of twelve essays and one poetic tribute, each examining Salem from a different aspect. Topics range from architecture to Nathaniel Hawthorne, and yes, the witches are discussed – lucky for me. What sets this collection apart is that it looks at Salem as a Phenomenon. How did one town become so infamous? Why are people still enthralled about witch trials that happened in 1692-1693? Sure the witch trials were horrible, but there have been plenty of other places in the world, indeed in the USA, where other massacres have occurred. The essays try to answer these and other questions by examining the history of Salem. The witch trials were grisly, but they are only a small part in a greater and far more interesting history. In her essay “Salem as a Crime Scene,” Margaret Press talks about “the Salem factor.” To put it concisely, people see extraordinary things in Salem because they expect them. It isn’t that Salem is any different from any other town; it is just that the focus is on the extraordinary, rather than the ordinary. Salem is really a sum of its parts. There is no one essay that really stood out, although Press’ aforementioned essay was a highlight. Together it is an interesting meditation of the sense of place and what constitutes a collective consciousness. If you are into Salem, or interested in how such a small town can become so infamous, it is well worth a read.

Journal of American History
By James Michael Lindgren, SUNY Plattsburg
June 2005

Visitors to Salem see its remarkably preserved architecture, its world-class museum first assembled by mariners, and Nathaniel Hawthorne's source of inspiration, the House of the Seven Gables.  That picture, however, has been crafted by boosters who, beginning two centuries ago, regarded their past, present, and future with misgiving.  For, as a result of the 1692 witchcraft trails, Salem's legacy was mostly one of intolerance and persecution.  Through its dozen essays....Salem: Place, Myth, and Memory not only pictures the evolution of those conflicting images, but celebrates the city's accomplishments [and] bridges the academic and general markets....In the end, there are few cities of Salem's size whose stories have been writ so large as national metaphors. Like a tapestry created from yarns spun in Salem's famed Naumkeag Mills, Salem: Place, Mtyh, and Memory is a cloth woven from many skeins that reveal the city's rich history