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Renegade Amish: Beard Cutting, Hate Crimes, and the Trial of the Bergholz Barbers Hardcover – August 19, 2014


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Renegade Amish: Beard Cutting, Hate Crimes, and the Trial of the Bergholz Barbers + The Amish + Growing Up Amish: A Memoir
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press (August 19, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1421415674
  • ISBN-13: 978-1421415673
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Renegade Amish... provides an insider’s perspective into how a small community of Amish people, nurtured in a religious tradition of nonviolence and forgiveness, transformed into a culture of revenge and retaliation.

(Publishers Weekly)

For the dimwitted habitues of comments threads, it was the news item that launched a thousand lame puns. But the case of the Bergholz Barbers is funny only as long as it remains a sound bite. Donald B. Kraybill's new book, "Renegade Amish: Bear Cutting, Hate Crimes and the Trial of the Bergholz Barbers," digs deep into a story that, for all its seeming quaintness, has the power to both rock the underpinnings of hate crime legislation and to break the human heart.

(Laura Miller Salon)

By shedding light on the ways in which the Bergholz group perverted ‘Amishness,’ Donald Kraybill—the leading scholar of Amish society—demonstrates his ability to sensitively analyze and explain Anabaptist culture to a broad audience. There are no other books that tackle this subject. As enthralling as true crime, Renegade Amish will also appeal to Anabaptist, religious, and legal studies scholars.

(Karen M. Johnson-Weiner, coauthor of The Amish)

In his deeply researched and vividly written account, Donald Kraybill not only chillingly reconstructs what happened during a series of Amish-on-Amish beard-cutting attacks that culminated in a precedent-setting federal criminal trial, he also tackles the how and why one group of Amish was transformed into a band of renegades.

(Dick Lehr, Author, Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, the FBI, and a Devil's Deal)

Donald Kraybill’s book is a lively, beautifully written account of the beard-cutting attacks in the Amish community of eastern Ohio. With sensitivity and impeccable scholarship, Kraybill sheds light on why this happened and what lessons about religious freedom this strange case holds for the Amish—and for us all.

(Charles C. Haynes, Director, Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute)

Kraybill tells this fascinating story clearly, and has the knowledge and contacts to penetrate a tight-lipped community.

(Damiam Whitworth The Times)

About the Author

Donald B. Kraybill is a Distinguished College Professor and Senior Fellow at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College. He is the author, coauthor, or editor of more than a dozen books on Amish culture, including The Riddle of Amish Culture and The Amish, also published by Johns Hopkins, and Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy.


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Customer Reviews

The organization was largely done quite well.
Sunny Sewing Honeybee
I was drawn into the story which was told in a very compelling fashion, although it did jump around in time a bit which does sometimes become hard to follow.
Mary Jo Sminkey
Renegade Amish is a fascinating look into Amish culture from the standpoint of a non-normal situation.
New England Yankee

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Harold Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWER on August 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
UPDATE: Newspaper today (Aug 28, '14) carries story of the court reversing guilty verdict for the defendants. Real drama continues. Will there be a government appeal? Will jailed Amish be released? If they are, will they cut more beards? Read this book and read the headlines for updates as they continue to unfold.

Original post below:
All news media struggled with understanding during the arrest and trial of the Amish Barbers. A group claiming to be Amish, turned to violent action, the cutting off of head hair. Was the guilty verdict fair, and what are the ramifications? Dr. Kraybill is arguably the foremost authority on Amish history, lifestyle, and beliefs. So much so the court hired him to assist in providing understanding during and around the trial. Now Kraybill (coauthor of "Amish Grace", about the Nickel Mines Amish school murders) uses his knowledge and involvement, as well as intensive research, to present a story of what happened.
An AMAZING read.
After months of TV reports, internet and newspaper reads, I finally can piece it all together.
Why did beard cutting begin? Who was really at fault? How could this happen in a non-violent community?

It's not just another Amish news frenzy, when news media react to what they do not understand. Stereotypical Amish practice is turned end for end, partially due to uneducated news reporters. I live 10 minutes from an Amish district. I enjoy reading Amish fiction. But this is a story that, granted, occurred in the circle of Amish lives, but has much more to say to all of us. How does what happened touch the lives of other religious people? Jewish? Moslim? Mormon? Catholic? Protestant? Atheist? Are the events of the Amish Barbers something that could happen to any group?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sunny Sewing Honeybee on September 11, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I found this book to be almost as riveting as a novel, and it was very clear that the author is an expert in his field, including information such as the unique way in which the Amish select spiritual leaders within their communities.

This is the bizarre story of a breakaway Amish group, which one could argue was a cult, or at the very least, a family clan. The author, in the end, explains his belief that they are not a cult, but rather have some cult-like tendencies or beliefs. That being said, I think the term can be more loosely applied, especially as no one knows how far this sect might have gone, or might still. Anyway, Sam Mullet, the leader, broke away from the Amish and was supposedly trying to be more strict than other Amish are nowadays. That being said, it's obvious that the man likely is unhinged, and the group began to practice odd behaviors, such as paddling, jailing themselves in animal pens, women being "taught" how to satisfy their husbands by Sam Mullet, and cutting hair or beards as a way of reptentance. Over time, non-family and even family members left, leaving a group dwindling in numbers and considered by other Amish not to truly be Amish.

Eventually, they punished Amish who had left their group, who they believed were not being strict enough. Oddly enough, however, the people at Bergholz had largely abandoned Amish beliefs, including a focus on the New Testament.

I do always prefer that non-fiction be told chronologically as, while it likely fits together in a perfect timeline in the author's head, it can be difficult for the reader when the text jumps around. That is my one little quibble with the book, though the author did a good job and I only occasionally felt a bit lost in the timeline of the events.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By drebbles VINE VOICE on September 15, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In 2011 both the Amish and non-Amish were shocked at a series of attacks of Amish on Amish with the renegade Amish cutting off the beards of the other Amish (and in one case cutting a woman's hair). “Renegade Amish” takes a look not only at those attacks but the history of the Bergholz Amish (who were behind the attacks) and the trial of the ten men and six women who were accused of the attacks.

I have been fascinated by the Amish ever since I saw the movie “Witness” and later had a chance to tour Amish country including a house. I've devoured Amish fiction and was interested in reading this book involving a real-life incident that I had followed in the newspapers. Donald Kraybill is an expert on the Amish and his book “Renegade Amish” doesn't disappoint. The book starts with the attacks and then backtracks to describe how the Berkholz Amish got started and how Samuel Mullet became their Bishop and leader. Kraybill also covers the trial and how they were charged under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Finally, Kraybill provides a chronological chronology of the Berkholz timeline, facts about the Amish, and the Mullet family tree.

While “Renegade Amish” can be a bit dry at times and isn't the type of book you'll devour in one sitting, it is still an interesting look at a man who seemingly had complete control over his followers. Some of the things that Mullet did are eye-opening and go against not only Amish beliefs but many non-Amish beliefs as well. One of the most fascinating parts of the book for me was when Kraybill discussed whether or not the Berkholz Amish were a cult. The trial itself was also interesting to read about - I'm glad I wasn't on that jury.

“Renegade Amish” is an interesting look at what happens when the Amish turn on each other.
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