The Amish

The Amish

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by Donald B. Kraybill, Karen M. Johnson-Weiner, Steven M. Nolt
     
 

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The Amish have always struggled with the modern world. Known for their simple clothing, plain lifestyle, and horse-and-buggy mode of transportation, Amish communities continually face outside pressures to modify their cultural patterns, social organization, and religious world view. An intimate portrait of Amish life, The Amish explores not only the emerging

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Overview

The Amish have always struggled with the modern world. Known for their simple clothing, plain lifestyle, and horse-and-buggy mode of transportation, Amish communities continually face outside pressures to modify their cultural patterns, social organization, and religious world view. An intimate portrait of Amish life, The Amish explores not only the emerging diversity and evolving identities within this distinctive American ethnic community, but also its transformation and geographic expansion.

Donald B. Kraybill, Karen M. Johnson-Weiner, and Steven M. Nolt spent twenty-five years researching Amish history, religion, and culture. Drawing on archival material, direct observations, and oral history, the authors provide an authoritative and sensitive understanding of Amish society.

Amish people do not evangelize, yet their numbers in North America have grown from a small community of some 6,000 people in the early 1900s to a thriving population of more than 275,000 today. The largest populations are found in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, with additional communities in twenty-seven other states and Ontario.

The authors argue that the intensely private and insular Amish have devised creative ways to negotiate with modernity that have enabled them to thrive in America. The transformation of the Amish in the American imagination from "backward bumpkins" to media icons poses provocative questions. What does the Amish story reveal about the American character, popular culture, and mainstream values? Richly illustrated, The Amish is the definitive portrayal of the Amish in America in the twenty-first century.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this companion piece to the PBS American Experience documentary of the same name, Kraybill, Johnson-Weiner, and Nolt (professors at Elizabethtown College, S.U.N.Y.-Potsdam, and Goshen College, respectively) present a comprehensive collection of history and modern research on the Amish, whose religion continues to draw converts and grow in number despite its strict doctrine of simplicity and humility. The authors successfully address the seeming exoticism of the Amish without sensationalism. Following a solid grounding in Amish history from its origins in Europe in the 1500s to middle America in the 1950s, the authors frame their expansive work around the “Amish struggle with modernity,” devoting attention to Amish religious beliefs and the way those beliefs are put into practice through ritual and tradition. The authors take care to describe the wide range of Amish practices, from those of more traditional communities living as they might have 200 years ago to others that allow their teenagers to have cell phones and drive cars. Particular attention is paid to debunking myths surrounding the teenage rite of Rumspringa, a time of contemplation before full commitment to the church through baptism. The scholarship is enlivened with quotes and personal anecdotes, and the final section on the future of the Amish raises fascinating questions, even for casual readers. (June)
Foreword Reviews

Kraybill, Johnson-Weiner and Nolt have provided masterful research that enlightens the reader about this misunderstood religion and culture... The Amish is a must-read for anyone willing to look beyond the horse and buggy image and gain eye-opening knowledge of people keeping a wary eye on the modern world while holding fast to their past beliefs and traditions.

JoelGehman.com - Joel Gehman

In sum, Kraybill, Johnson-Weiner and Nolt have offered us a highly readable and thoroughly engaging lens into The Amish, and in doing so offer readers an opportunity to reflect on themselves in this book.

Amish America

Given its wide scope and up-to-date information there really isn’t a book like this on the Amish today. I would place it among a handful of Amish must-reads.

Choice

This is a great read for audiences from high school to professionals... highly recommended.

Foreword Reviews - Jeff Friend

Kraybill, Johnson-Weiner and Nolt have provided masterful research that enlightens the reader about this misunderstood religion and culture... The Amish is a must-read for anyone willing to look beyond the horse and buggy image and gain eye-opening knowledge of people keeping a wary eye on the modern world while holding fast to their past beliefs and traditions.

Olive Branch United - Ben Wolinsky

The book’s thoroughness is praiseworthy, along with its unbiased approach. It doesn’t overpraise the Amish, nor does it criticize their ways. If you’re wondering how traditional societies cope with the modern era, this book is perfect.

Annals of Iowa - Rod Janzen

It is an essential work on the Amish for both those who begin with little knowledge and those who would like to update their understanding of this unique plain Christian community.

Nova Religio - J. Denny Weaver

Written by the foremost contemporary authority on the Amish along with experts on linguistics and Amish history, this impressive, illustrated volume positions itself as the best and most comprehensive book on the Amish in the twenty-first century. Based on twenty-five years of sociological and demographics research, face-to-face interviews and in-person observation, the twenty-two chapters cover every aspect of Amish life... The Amish is invaluable for the reader seeking a first, serious encounter with the subject, but readers with some prior knowledge of the Amish will benefit greatly from its comprehensive, national scope. For libraries with limited space, this is the one book on the Amish to own.

Mennonite Quarterly Review - David L. McConnell

Ten years in the making, The Amish is one of a kind... The book draws on a combined seventy-five years of observation and analysis of Amish life by three of the most insightful scholars in the field of Amish studies... It does an exceptional job of conveying the cultural logic behind Amish practices... The book is a major contribution to understanding and theorizing Amish difference amid unity in the twenty-first century... The Amish is beautifully written and the consistency of voice is remarkable... This is interdisciplinary work at its best.

Polifemo - Fabio Mora

[ The Amish] is a valuable, detailed and large (520 pp.) introduction to the Amish... The book, wisely documented with photographs (to be more appreciated, because of Amish shunning them), is a very precious documentation of Amish life and religious culture in present America - and therefore not only our best choice of 2014, but a bibliographic milestone not to be missed.

Journal of Mennonite Studies - Gerald J. Mast

The Amish is a sophisticated yet accessible picture of the many forms of contemporary Amish life, a picture that includes both the attractions of deeply rooted community relationships and the troubling shadows cast in a closely-knit patriarchal tribe, such as poorly addressed sexual abuse and a sometimes-dysfunctional youth culture. The nuance, accuracy, thoroughness, and respect attending this beautifully presented work of collaborative scholarship ensure that The Amish will define the field of Amish studies for some time to come.

Library Journal
09/01/2013
A staunchly simple people coexisting with, yet separate and utterly distinct from, mainstream American culture, the Amish are an object of great curiosity and misunderstanding by "the English" (the Amish term for non-Amish people). This large, tightly organized survey of Amish history, society, and religion, a companion to a 2012 PBS documentary, is a welcome corrective. Kraybill (Distinguished College Professor, Elizabethtown Coll.), Karen M. Johnson-Weiner (linguistic anthropology, SUNY-Potsdam), and Steven M. Nold (history, Goshen Coll.) examine Amish conviction, which is based on Gelassenheit (surrender to God's will) and Amish practice, which is centered on the Gmay (small, local church community) and informed by Ordnung (a Gmay's set of moral guidelines). The authors distill a vast number of primary and secondary sources and their personal interactions and interviews to illuminate the Amish in light of modernity. They correct popular misconceptions about shunning and Rumspringa (the relatively unconstrained teen years), tease out the religious and community-protective basis for apparently odd or inconsistent practices, and demonstrate that there is great diversity among Amish communities. VERDICT More utilitarian than elegant, this hefty study occasionally reads like a textbook, but its respectful, thoroughly researched portrait of the Amish is most valuable. Of interest to students, social scientists, and the countless English who are fascinated by the Amish.—Janet Ingraham Dwyer, State Lib. of Ohio, Columbus

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781421409146
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
04/30/2013
Pages:
520
Sales rank:
508,759
Product dimensions:
6.90(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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