The Riddle of Amish Culture

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The Riddle of Amish Culture has become a classic work on one of America's most distinctive religious communities. But many changes have occurred within Amish society over the past decade, from westward migrations and greater familiarity with technology to the dramatic shift away from farming into small business which is transforming Amish culture. For this revised edition. Donald B. Kraybill has taken these recent changes into account, incorporating new demographic research and interviews and adding a chapter ...
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The Riddle of Amish Culture

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Overview

The Riddle of Amish Culture has become a classic work on one of America's most distinctive religious communities. But many changes have occurred within Amish society over the past decade, from westward migrations and greater familiarity with technology to the dramatic shift away from farming into small business which is transforming Amish culture. For this revised edition. Donald B. Kraybill has taken these recent changes into account, incorporating new demographic research and interviews and adding a chapter describing Amish recreation and social gatherings.

Explores the habits and customs of the Amish, and how they have "struck a bargain" with modern times.

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Editorial Reviews

Newsweek
Explains clearly [the Amish people's] ingenious bargains with secular modernity.
Whole Earth Review
The riddle of Amish culture in America is: how does it continue to dramatically prosper while unilaterally resisting the very core of mainstream American prosperity—technology? The surprising answer—adaptation and compromise—is given in loving detail in this great book.
Philadelphia Inquirer
Kraybill relies on his own and others' research, as well as on personal interviews with Amish men and women. The resulting book is a hybrid—written in a non-academic style that is appealing to the general reader who wishes to learn more about these unusual Americans, but also exploring the Amish in scholarly depth.
Christian Century
A sophisticated portrayal of the apparently simple but actually very complex Amish . . . A well-illustrated guide, this work gives loving but unsentimental attention to the precarious culture under examination.
Christian Century
A sophisticated portrayal of the apparently simple but actually very complex Amish . . . A well-illustrated guide, this work gives loving but unsentimental attention to the precarious culture under examination.
Booknews
To find clues to why this Old Order people flourishes in the modern era, Kraybill (sociology and Anabaptist studies, Messiah College, PA) studied an Amish settlement in Lancaster County, PA. Based on interviews, ethnographic observations, and demographic profiles, he discusses their Anabaptist legacy, rural lifestyle, opposition to the 1984 film , and changes in the community since the 1989 edition. Includes photographs<-->despite the prohibition against such<-->showing some compromises with modern life; demographics; Scripture texts used; and research methodology notes. Published in cooperation with the Center for American Places, Santa Fe, NM, and Harrisonburg, VA. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Christian Century
This book is a perfect tool for introducing undergraduates to sociological analysis. Kraybill skillfully depicts an intriguing world that promotes collectivism against the dominant individualism. We come to understand how Amish life makes sense to those who adhere to it.

— Michèle Lamont

Christian Century - Michèle Lamont

This book is a perfect tool for introducing undergraduates to sociological analysis. Kraybill skillfully depicts an intriguing world that promotes collectivism against the dominant individualism. We come to understand how Amish life makes sense to those who adhere to it.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801836817
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/1989
  • Series: Center Books in Anabaptist Studies
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.29 (w) x 9.53 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Donald B. Kraybill is Distinguished College Professor and Senior Fellow in the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College, Pennsylvania. Widely recognized for his work on Anabaptist groups, he has authored and edited many books, including The Riddle of Amish Culture and The Amish and the State, both available from Johns Hopkins.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
1 The Amish Story 1
2 The Quiltwork of Amish Culture 27
3 Symbols of Integration and Separation 54
4 The Social Architecture of Amish Society 80
5 Rites of Redemption and Purification 111
6 Auctions, Frolics, and Gangs 142
7 Passing on the Faith 161
8 The Riddles of Technology 188
9 Harnessing the Power of Progress 213
10 The Transformation of Amish Work 238
11 Managing Public Relations 268
12 Regulating Social Change 295
13 Exploring Our Common Riddles 319
App. A: Research Procedures 333
App. B Old Order Amish Lancaster Country Settlement Population Estimates, 1880-2010 335
App. C Estimated Amish Population by State and Province in North America 336
App. D Settlements Originating from the Lancaster County Settlement, 1940-2000 337
App. E Scripture Texts for Amish Church Services in the Lancaster Settlement 339
Notes 341
Select References 369
Index 391
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 5, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    a scholarly but readable treatment of a fascinating group that in many ways defies the truths accepted by the modern world

    This is an excellent survey of the perplexing Amish, with information gained from field work, interviews, and source materials. Kraybill went to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the largest concentration of Amish in the U.S. (and so in the world), to prepare a scholarly but readable study. He gives a fairly brief history of the movement, placing it in the context of the Radical Reformation, and then goes on to its successful transplanting to the United States, where it grew from 5000 people in 1900 to more than 180,000 at present.
    He is thorough in documenting various phases of Amish life, including clothing styles and religious and social structure. He tries to answer hard questions like why the Amish are not allowed to drive automobiles but can still ride in a car driven by someone else.
    I think there is sometimes a vague idea about the Amish that they are just hopelessly locked into some distant time period and refuse to "catch up" with modern society. Instead, the reader finds out that the Amish are constantly making compromises with the outside world, but with the goal of keeping the community together, for the good of each member's salvation.

    I have also recommended the classic Harrison Ford movie "Witness." It's probably Ford's greatest role, the barn-raising scene is beautiful, and you can watch the movie and then read the book and find out what the Amish are REALLY about!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2010

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