There are lots of scary books in the world, with almost anything written by Stephen King or Sarah Palin pretty much unreadable if you’re afraid of the dark and camping somewhere isolated.
Of course, there’s another type of scary: certain “holy” books that, in my opinion, people do themselves an injustice by taking too literally (and killing non-believers in the name of).
And then there are truly terrifying tomes; books such as Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ The Manifesto of the Communist Party and the infamous Malleus Maleficarum, all of which inspired the murders of millions of people.
While Hitler’s screed helped spread his genocidal anti-Semitism and Marx and Engels’s work was used as a blueprint for numerous brutal regimes, the less well known Malleus Maleficarum – latin for “The Hammer of Witches” – is only slightly less blood-soaked.
Published in 1487, Malleus Maleficarum was written by Heinrich Kramer, a German Inquistor of the Catholic Church and, in the centuries following his death, it became the Do-It-Yourself guide for how to identify, torture and kill a witch …