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The Amish in the American Imagination (Center Books in Anabaptist Studies) Hardcover – October 2, 2001

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the dawn of the 20th century, representations of the Amish were rarely sympathetic and often bordered on caricature; at the beginning of the 21st, the Amish are the objects of fascination and even reverence. In The Amish in the American Imagination, David Weaver-Zercher explores how Americans have "fashioned the renowned sectarians for their own purposes to mark boundaries, express fears, support causes and, in many cases, make a profit." Weaver-Zercher does an especially fine job of revealing how Americans' anxieties about modern technology are demonstrated through their changing cultural representations of the Amish. This is a fine and well-written study, its prose a winning mixture of plain and fancy.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


Weaver-Zercher does an especially fine job of revealing how Americans' anxieties about modern technology are demonstrated through their changing cultural representations of the Amish. This is a fine and well-written study, its prose a winning mixture of plain and fancy.

(Publishers Weekly)

The Amish in the American Imagination is a scholarly presentation... [that] puts into perspective the puzzling pieces of identity and relationship between Mennonites and Amish and also with their wider American neighbors.

(Harold D. Lehman Provident Book Finder)

This book is written in an engaging journalistic style and turns many a poetic phrase. It's a pleasure to read. It should help us all to be more self-conscious the next time we see the name Amish attached to some restaurant, furniture store, or other business.

(Marlin Jeschke Mennonite Weekly Review)

Fascinating... the book challenges all of us to think about the many ways we use other people―and stereotypes of other people―for our own purposes and to advance our own sense of self.

(Steven M. Nolt Christian Living)

The Amish in the American Imagination comes like a breath of fresh air on the scene of writing about Amish. It offers a much more critical and evaluative writing stance amidst a sea of literary dribble about the Amish.

(John W. Friesen Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage)

The Amish in the American Imagination is a detailed and thoughtful study describing the cultural and religious milieu of representations of the Amish in twentieth-century North America... Using evidence primarily from popular culture, the author exhibits a keen sense of historical context. Everything from Broadway musicals to tourist trinkets becomes interpretive fodder.

(David Rempel Smucker Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography)

One has to be impressed with Weaver-Zercher's nuanced and sophisticated interpretations as he offers snapshots of several case studies within the problem of Amish representation... a rich text worthy of contemplation.

(Simon J. Bronner Der Reggeboge)

The book is well conceived and well crafted... For students of American culture, The Amish in the American Imagination offers much to ponder.

(Theron F. Schlabach Journal of American History)

[Written with a] sense of balance and nuance, along with detailed analysis of diverse sources, attention to the broader relvance of his examples, and a coherent, persuasive argument.

(Anna L. Peterson Religious Studies Review)

It belongs in every serious collection about the Amish.

(Philip E. Webber Utopian Studies)

Weaver-Zercher's thorough research, his inclusion of many historical gems of fact and myth, and his dispassionate, nuanced analyses of the varied appropriations of images of the Amish make this an exceptionally solid and valuable scholarly contribution.

(J. D. Stahl Journal of Mennonite Studies)

This book should be on the reading list of anyone interested in 'Amish studies.'

(Susan Biesecker-Mast Conrad Grebel Review)

By shifting the analytic frame from the Amish to those who have become interpreters of Old Order life, Weaver-Zercher transcends the line of questioning typical of books on the Amish in a way that is fresh and engaging.

(Carl Desportes Bowman Journal of Religion)

The phenomenon of the Amish as a social icon and cultural manipulative has received little attention, and none as careful as this book. This well-written, carefully researched study offers an original and important presentation of a subject rarely explored: the function of the Amish in American society.

(Steve Nolt, Goshen College)

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Product Details

  • Series: Center Books in Anabaptist Studies
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press (October 2, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801866812
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801866814
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,780,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
The Amish In The American Imagination by David Weaver-Zercher (Assistant Professor of American Religious History, Messiah College) is a fascinating Anabaptist study of how American twentieth-century culture perceives and interacts with America's Amish population and culture. The repercussions that Amish songs and Amish themed movies arising from the broader American popular culture have had upon Amish people, and vice versa, are discussed at length in this sober, thoughtful, scholarly, and carefully researched presentation. The Amish In The American Imagination is a highly recommended and original contribution to American Religious History Studies, American Popular Culture Studies, and 20th Century Amish Cultural Studies supplemental reading lists and academic reference collections.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I would give this book more than five stars if I could because it is well written, scholarly and very well researched.I only recently learned about it and immediately bought it and read it with much interest. Admittedly, it has special interest for me because of the fact that I was born and raised in the Old Order Amish church in Lancaster County, Pa. I was also an Amish church member for three years and then decided to permanently separate from it. Because of that, I have been excommunicated and shunned since then. One item that is especially interesting to me is the old postcard photo on page fifty- six which shows my grandfather, Benuel Fisher on the left-hand side. Mr Weaver- Zercher writes about the disputes between Amish parents and secular school officials who wanted Amish children to have more than an eighth grade education. Because of that situation, one of my uncles spent a night in jail on five different occasions. Undoubtedly, my father would also have been jailed, but was spared from that because he was recovering from a very serious wagon/car accident. The picture on page eighty-six which shows Amish children running to a one-room schoolhouse brought a wave of nostalgia to me because it is from the book "Henner's Lydia" which my Aunt Fannie had and which I read as a young child.
The old photos of Plain and Fancy Farm and of Dutch Haven are also very familiar to me. Also, the story about the book "Jonathan" was very interesting to me because I knew the author, Dan Neidermyer's' mother and grandfather quite well.
The numerous items in the Notes section and the bibliography section were also very helpful and informative.
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