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Amish Society Paperback – April 1, 1993


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Amish Society + A History of the Amish: Revised and Updated + Growing Up Amish: A Memoir
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; 4th edition (April 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801844428
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801844423
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #367,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

The definitive book on one of America's most misunderstood communities.

(Philadelphia Inquirer)

In a class by itself.

(Journal of American History)

The best single book available on the Amish.

(Christianity Today)

About the Author

John A. Hostetler (1918–2001) is author of the best-selling Amish Society and the widely acclaimed Hutterite Society, both available from Johns Hopkins. Raised in the Amish faith, he was founding director of the Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, and a former professor of anthropology and sociology at Temple University.


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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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The fine distinctions among Amish communities are fascinating.
New England Yankee
In a way it seemed like voyeurism to discover what the private lives of these very private people are like.
Maudeen Wachsmith
So in addition to academic credentials, the author has lived the life he describes so well in this book.
Joanna Daneman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Joanna Daneman #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
The author is a professor emeritus from Temple University and grew up in an Old-Order Amish family. So in addition to academic credentials, the author has lived the life he describes so well in this book.
While this is not a travelogue for those wishing a tour of Amish Country, it would be a very good thing to read before you go to Lancaster, PA or any of the other Amish-settled areas in the US and Canada. Dr. Hostetler describes attitudes to "the English World", the religious and daily life, and how the Amish merge with their secular neighbors.
The book also describes a bit of the struggle the Amish faced in the 60's when they sought permission to have their own schools and end formal educatiion for their children at grade 8. While he says little about it, Hostetler's own life must have been affected by this attitude to what is required in education; he left the community to become a university professor, and subsequently lived with the Hutterites, another religious society in Canada and Europe.
This is an enjoyable and realistic book with no sentimentality or gloss. If you want to know more about the Amish, this is definitely the book to read.
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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Maudeen Wachsmith VINE VOICE on April 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
I purchased the book Amish Society at Lapp's farm in Lancaster County. A book that even the Amish feel is good enough to sell themselves -- worked for me. I didn't read it until I got home from Lancaster Co., PA but it certainly explained a lot of things to me like why I saw cars in the yards of some of the Amish homes, why I saw Amish teenage boys smoking cigarettes, and how Amish sects differ.

As a grand-daughter of a related sect of plain people, The Hutterities, it was interesting to see how the Amish were similar to the Hutterites and how they differ. In a way it seemed like voyeurism to discover what the private lives of these very private people are like.

This is highly recommended anyone visiting the Amish or wanting ot learn more about them.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 22, 1997
Format: Paperback
This is a superb, comprehensive book covering most facets of interest in Amish life. Concentrating on the Old Order Amish, it also provides history and perspective on most of the major Amish schisms, touches on the Mennonites by way of their relationships to the Amish, and gives a good overview of Anabaptist history to boot.

The text is very readable and organized by topic. A first time reader would do well to read cover-to-cover, but it can be browsed by chapter once the major terminology and concepts have been learned.

Hostetler grew up Amish. The book is a sociological study, written sympathetically. It would be a slight distortion to say it was written from the Amish point of view, but it does succeed in conveying that point of view. It does so accurately with sufficient examples and documentation to be conclusive.

Not a coffee table book, not a picture book, this is a readable reference work that you will use again. Quoted and used by many others writing about the Amish, the author is a highly respected authority on the subject.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By New England Yankee on January 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
I have many books on the Amish, but this volume is the keystone of the collection. Nothing will advance your understanding of the Amish more than reading this book - nothing. Written by a college professor born into an Old-Order Amish community (the most conservative), the author doesn't just describe the Amish and how they live, but explains why they live as they do and how they think and make decisions about modern life and technology. Along the way he destroys the notion that the Amish are rooted in the past. In fact, they are firmly in the here and now - but deliberately disconnected from the non-Amish world. They use power, motors, machinery, electronics and computers, modern transportation, and more, but in ways that ensure separation.

Amish Society gives perspective on how the Amish developed from their Anabaptist roots and where they fit in the modern Anabaptist spectrum. He describes how individuals and families move from one "level" to another and why. The fine distinctions among Amish communities are fascinating. The author gives an example, using Mifflin County, PA, showing 13 levels of Amish and Anabaptist "committment" (for lack of a better word). Starting at the center with the Old Order Amish, it proceeds to Old School, Byler Church, Peachey Amish, New Amish, Beachy Amish, Beth-El Mennonite, Holdeman Mennonite, Allensville Mennonite, Locust Grove Mennonite, Bretheren in Christ, Maple Grove Mennonite, and finally Protestant. All are instantly distinguishable to an Amish person by things as subtle as the width of a hat brim.

The most unfamiliar content for anyone not familiar with Amish life will be on religious ceremony and practice.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 4, 1998
Format: Paperback
Clearly one of the leading authorities on the Amish, Hostetler's book is a well-researched and well-written look at a group of people struggling to maintain their traditional ways in our modern society. This is an excellent introduction to the Amish.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. Hammond on December 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
Growing up near some scattered Amish church districts in Northwestern Pennsylvania and Western New York, I have always been interested in learning more about the Amish going way back to my childhood. Hostetler's book is my first attempt at this and I managed to pick a very good starting point.

I disagree with some reviewers about this being a good book to read before a visit to Amish country--its too in-depth and scholarly, I believe, for an average traveler with perhaps only a passing interest in the culture.

For someone else, like myself, who wants to learn much more, this book is excellent. Mine was a fourth edition (1993) and the book, with all its revisions, seems just a tad dated at times but this does not detract from the effectiveness of the discussion. Further, it has heightened my interest to learn more, and I will not pass an Amish buggy or household (a monthly occurance) without applying what I learned in this book!
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