- Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (2006)
- ASIN: B001U7AOY4
- Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,485,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Rumspringa: To Be or Not to Be Amish Hardcover – 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is written by one of the documentarians who helped produce the film of the same subject called 'Devil's Playground,' which contains many, if not all, of the people interviewed for the film. For those who have seen the film, Shachtman gives further details about each individual, which is the book's best attribute. However, Shachtman does not bring to light any new information or insights that was not previously covered in the documentary and thus, the book can seem repetitive relative to the movie.
The book is not academic and Shachtman does not cite specific sources (although he provides a bibliography at the end) and therefore, the book should not be used for research purposes. Additionally, there are quite a number of characters, introduced only by their first name and first letter of their last name, and the book tends to jump from story to story, requiring time to recollect the person and limits the flow of the read. At times, Shachtman introduces his own commentary and thoughts on the subject, which are often superficial and shallow, but to his credit, he never claims to be an authority or expert on the Amish.
If you are interested in seriously studying the subject, John Hostetler, Donald Kraybill, and Stephen Nolt have all published academic works that are excellent reading material and very informative.Read more ›
The rumspringa period is intended to give the young Amish some experience of mainstream culture so that they can make informed decisions, when the time comes, about whether or not to join the Amish church as adults. The period ends, ideally, when a young adult in rumspringa decides to be baptized into the church, which implies refraining thenceforth from the illicit behaviors they were allowed briefly to experience. Some 80% of Amish youth do, in fact, return to the fold.
Tom Shachtman's Rumspringa is the product of more than 400 hours of interviews conducted between 1999 and 2004. Shachtman focuses on the period of rumspringa, but in fact his book serves as an introduction to Amish life as a whole.Read more ›
I am a writing professor and insist that my students stick to a thesis. As a professional writer, I often receive feedback from editors that I need to bring my writing back to the theme, instead of straying into related topics. Therefore, again, given the title of the book, I was very surprised that so little of this book is about the teens and their temporary entry into "the world."
The author also seems to rely at times on questionable sources. For example, at one point, he quotes an employer as saying that the decline in family farming has led to Amish teens lying more frequently. He offers no support for this proposition other than the word of the employer, yet seems to accept it as true.
His writing is also repetitive. He must tell us a dozen times that fewer Amish now farm.
That said, I did learn some interesting things about Amish communities.
Through interviews with teens and their family members about their feelings, behaviors and beliefs, Shachtman paints a picture of what life is like for the Amish. Included is what separates the Amish from the Mennonites, what the suspenders the boys wear are all about, the meaning of the hairstyles and hair coverings of the females, the logic behind their wearing of plain clothing, disuse of electricity, the number of children they have, banning, shunning and a bit on less conservative sects like the Beach Amish. Additionally, the issue of how the transformation from a largely agricultural existence to one requiring workers to find jobs outside the home, mainly at factories, has affected them, specifics on their beliefs, worship, Social Security, treatment of the elderly and the disabled and data on the prevalence and geographical locations of their members are discussed.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fascinating look into an area of Amish life rarely talked about (or even known) outside the community.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Awesome. Very factual and could be used as a school textbook. It really opened my eyes to different culture and religion.Published 5 months ago by beth
We used this book for our monthly book club discussion. there was a lot of information regarding lifestyle of young Amish people and their decision to follow in their family... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Susan Harrington
Some good information, window into the Amish world, a little sensationalisticPublished on July 24, 2014 by Shirley J Anderson
This was the first book on the Amish that I've read, so I can't really compare it to other books in this genre. Read morePublished on June 5, 2014 by T-Rex 5
Loved the stories about specific Amish youth but in all, a rather dry read. Would have much preferred more narrative about the people themselves and less facts, figures and... Read morePublished on December 18, 2012 by Jocelyn Rieck
The book has some interesting parts to is, but I found it flawed: (1) The writing is not particularly strong; maybe the author was trying to mirror the Amish sense of "plain," but... Read morePublished on January 4, 2012 by Jane
While the author clearly possesses an amazing amount of insider knowledge and abundant facts, the text is ponderous to read. Read morePublished on June 10, 2011 by Pen Name