The quotes on witchcraft (and the Salem witch trials) are intriguing.
I remember running across a unexpected reference to witchcraft, in a biography of astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630).
If my memory server me correctly, one of the troublesome parts of his life centered around his mother being accused of witchcraft. The evidence was all circumstantial (widow, lived alone, spent a lot of time gathering herbs...), but the public perception of witchcraft was such that the charge was serious, and hard to refute.
I don't recall Kepler's mother being executed, but the explanation in the biography was that many witches were executed in Europe during that century.
And, somehow Salem's witch-trials are the most widely remembered...
Also, I am amused by your little boy finding the book. I can recall at least one book that I was led to by a splashy cover; I quickly discovered that the book had quite profound thinking buried in its pages.
Funny thing is, the cover isn't all that splashy (although I can see why he prefered it to the Brubeck album cover...)