HIGHROAD TO THE STAKE: A Tale of Witchcraft by Michael Kunze

HIGHROAD TO THE STAKE: A Tale of Witchcraft

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A German pop songwriter turns historical researcher for this true tale of a Renaissance German family persecuted as witches. The present book is a rewritten version of the author's doctoral dissertation in law, thankfully leaving out most of the footnotes, bibliography and other scholarly impedimentia. What remains is the sort of popular history that often reaches best-seller status on the Continent but is a relative rarity in the States (certainly the solid contribution to legal history by American pop songsters is nonexistent). The author has obviously gone through a welter of research that allows him to accurately evoke an impression of a time and life-style. If there is a fault with the clear presentation, it may be that Kunze has simplified things a bit too much. Often details are mentioned only for their dramatic value, rather than for any conclusions they might lead to. The alleged crimes of the German family (eating babies, etc.) are described thoroughly, as are the family's executions, but the effect seems more titillation than revelatory. The legal historical meanings of it all sometimes get lost in the gore. Reading about these tortures merely for entertainment seems like something out of a punk rock concert. But perhaps Kunze knows his public very well, after all. Vivid, if occasionally pointless, gore.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1987
Publisher: Univ. of Chicago Press