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Rumspringa: To Be or Not to Be Amish Paperback – May 29, 2007
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“[A] wonderfully rich portrait and history of the Amish as a people.” ―Donna Freitas, The Wall Street Journal
“Shachtman is like a maestro, masterfully conducting an orchestra of history, anthropology, psychology, sociology, and journalism together in a harmonious and evocative symphony of all things Amish.” ―Richard Horan, The Christian Science Monitor
About the Author
Tom Shachtman is an award-winning documentarian and the author of many books, including Skyscraper Dreams, Around the Block, and The Day America Crashed.
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"Rumspringa" is a well-written and well-researched look at Amish life. Author Tom Shachtman interviewed a lot of Amish in the course of writing the book and their conversations are enlightening. While the book is mostly about Rumspringa, all aspects of Amish life are covered and some are eye opening. Much is made of how the Amish youth act during Rumspringa (excess drugs, alcohol, and sex) and while some behavior is self-destructive, many young Amish choose to not return to Amish life because their choices are limited. Ironically, while the Amish school system provides a better education than public schools, that education is limited (for example, science is not taught and most are not educated past eighth grade). Because of that, their life choices are limited - girls are expected to stay at home, get married and raise a family, while the boys are expected to work the farm. It is no wonder some choose to leave, although the price they pay is a high one.
For the most part, Shachtman does a good job of not being too judgmental. He strays a bit, especially when trying to make the teens actions during Rumspringa shocking. But for the most part his writing is straightforward and lets the story tell itself without making it too sensational. His look into the Amish life is very revealing, at times interesting and heartwarming and other times a bit shocking (there are allegations of child abuse). All of this is very informative.
In the end, I learned a lot about the Amish way of life by reading "Rumspringa".
Most recent customer reviews
When explaining what the word Rumspringa itself means, he claims the "rum" part comes from the german "Raum", which is 100% wrong.Read more