The Crucible, by Arthur Miller

This is one of those books that I've heard mentioned many times in conversation, and seen on all the "Classics" book lists. It's a nice, concise play of about 100 pages that is all about the Salem "witch" trials back in the 1600's. I don't remember diving too deeply into that topic when I was in high school, but I hope that kids today are presented with the opportunity to do so. In this play, Miller shows how village people would cry out against one another for simple purposes of gaining access to their land, in retaliation of a dispute over the sale of livestock, or (now it gets juicy) an adulteress weasling her way into her lover's arms by getting rid of his wife. I think this was a nice presentation of just how sick and twisted people can be, regardless of their presupposed piety.

A study of this book will ultimately lead to the question of the appropriateness of theocracy. The Governor and Ministers in this play have been given ultimate ruling and authority (based on their opinion of "God's Law"), and they could not have fouled it up more than they did. Theocracy itself isn't a horrible thing; man's very flawed interpretation and implementation of it, however, is.