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1 Beaverton WREL- AMISH/MENNONITE/HUTTERITE

Rumspringa: To Be or Not to Be Amish

by

Rumspringa: To Be or Not to Be Amish Cover

ISBN13: 9780865477421
ISBN10: 0865477426
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A revelatory look at Amish youth as they have never been looked at before. Rumspringa is a fascinating look at a little-known Amish coming-of-age ritual, the rumspringa — the period of "running around" that begins for their youth at age sixteen. Through vivid portraits of teenagers in Ohio and Indiana, Tom Shachtman offers an account of Amish life as a mirror to the soul-searching and questing that we recognize as a generally intrinsic part of adolescence.

The trappings of the Amish way of life — the "plain" clothes and electricity-free farms — conceal the communities' mystery: how they manage to retain their young people and perpetuate themselves generation after generation. The key to this is the rumspringa, when Amish youth are allowed to live outside the bounds of their faith, experimenting with alcohol, premarital sex, trendy clothes, telephones, drugs, and wild parties. By allowing them such freedom, their parents hope they will learn enough to help them make the most important decision of their lives — whether to be baptized as Christians, join the church, and forever give up worldly ways, or to remain out in the world.

In this searching book, Shachtman draws on his skills as a documentarian to capture young people on the cusp of a fateful decision, and to give us an original and deeply affecting portrait of the Amish as a whole.

Review:

"A teenage Amish girl sits in her buggy, one hand dangling a cigarette while the other holds a cellphone in which she is loudly chatting away. This girl, like many Amish teens 16 and older, is in a period called rumspringa, when the strict rules of community life are temporarily lifted while an adolescent chooses whether to be baptized into the church and abide fully by its laws. Shachtman, a documentarian who began studying this phenomenon for the film The Devil's Playground, is a sensitive and nimble chronicler of Amish teens, devoting ample space to allowing them to tell their stories in their own words. And their stories are fascinating, from the wild ones who engage in weekend-long parties, complete with hard drugs and sexual promiscuity, to the more sedate and pious teens who prefer to engage in careful courtship rituals under the bemused eyes of adult Amish chaperones. Shachtman's tone is by turns admiring — of the work ethic, strong families and religious faith that undergird Amish life — and critical, especially of the sect's treatment of women and its suspicion of education beyond the eighth grade. Throughout, Shachtman uses the Amish rumspringa experience as a foil for understanding American adolescence and identity formation in general, and also contextualizes rumspringa throughout the rapidly growing and changing Amish world. This is not only one of the most absorbing books ever written about the Plain People but a perceptive snapshot of the larger culture in which they live and move." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"[As] much about the Amish faith and way of life in general as it is about rumspringa. It is as good an introduction to Amish culture as the average reader could ask for." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Review:

"Shachtman's book...far surpasses the documentary....It provides lucid mini-essays on Amish history and practice, conversations with a much broader cross-section of Amish youth." Philadelphia Inquirer

Review:

"A fascinating glimpse into the lives of Amish youth." Balitmore Sun

Review:

"The author's reporting is so scrupulous and open-minded that the mainstream reader can almost appreciate the punitive nature of the Amish practice of shunning." Newsday

Review:

"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." Christian Science Monitor

Review:

"[A] riveting and instructive portrait." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"While readers familiar with the Amish as neighbors will find much insight into the plain people's whys and wherefores here, all teens will find accessible information about the psychology of late adolescence and the developmental work of independence." School Library Journal

Review:

"This work, based in part on research done for the related documentary, Devil's Playground, sensitively addresses the unique position of the Amish and the challenges they face." Library Journal

Synopsis:

Rumspringa is Tom Shachtman's celebrated look at a littleknown Amish coming-of-age ritual, the rumspringa--the period of running around that begins for their youth at age sixteen. During this time, Amish youth are allowed to live outside the bounds of their faith, experimenting with alcohol, premarital sex, revealing clothes, telephones, drugs, and wild parties. By allowing such broad freedoms, their parents hope they will learn enough to help them make the most important decision of their lives--whether to be baptized as Christians, join the church, and forever give up worldly ways, or to remain in the world.

In this searching book, Shachtman draws on his skills as a documentarian to capture young people on the cusp of a fateful decision, and to give us one of the most absorbing books ever written about the Plain People (Publishers Weekly). Tom Shachtman is an award-winning documentarian and the author of many books, including Skyscraper Dreams, Around the Block, and The Day America Crashed. Rumspringa is Tom Shachtman's celebrated look at a little-known Amish coming-of-age ritual, the rumspringa--the period of running around that begins for their youth at age sixteen. During this time, Amish youth are allowed to live outside the bounds of their faith, experimenting with alcohol, premarital sex, revealing clothes, telephones, drugs, and wild parties. By allowing such broad freedoms, their parents hope they will learn enough to help them make the most important decision of their lives--whether to be baptized as Christians, join the church, and forever give up worldly ways, or to remain in the world.

In this searching book, Shachtman draws on his skills as a documentarian to capture young people on the cusp of a fateful decision, and to give us one of the most absorbing books ever written about the Plain People (Publishers Weekly).Mr. Shachtman's wonderfully rich portrait and history of the Amish as a people and a faith helps to show why one of the strictest religious communities in America is better at holding a flock than some of the most liberal.--Donna Freitas, The Wall Street Journal Never sensationalizing, Shachtman lets the teenagers themselves articulate the struggle to choose between a tradition bound life and the myriad temptations of 'the real world.'--Adriana Leshko, The Washington Post Mr. Shachtman's wonderfully rich portrait and history of the Amish as a people and a faith helps to show why one of the strictest religious communities in America is better at holding a flock than some of the most liberal.--Donna Freitas, The Wall Street Journal Shachtman has conducted extensive research and interviews to give us entree to the world of Amish adolescents and culture . . . Many of the individual teen narratives share a common structure: excitement for the new freedom, conflict with family as they move deeper into partying and outside culture, followed by reconciliation and return to the church. But the portraits themselves are finely drawn and reveal the individuals in the community. Shachtman takes his subject and his readers seriously. His study is scholarly but never academic. Anyone interested in U.S. religion or youth culture will enjoy this enlightening and insightful book.--Martin Schmutterer, The Star Tribune (Minneapolis) Tom Shachtman's] description of the phenomenon is excellent, using the sort of documentary technique mastered by Tony Parker in Bird, Kansas, Lighthouse and Soldier, Soldier--letting the burden of the story be carried by the characters' own words.--Roger K. Miller, The Washington Times The author uses the rumspringa experience to provide a rare look inside a closed society . . . The strength of Shachtman's book is the candor he summons from his subjects and his sketch-artist description of a strange place and its people . . . I found myself fascinated with the clash of cultures.--Chicago Sun-Times Fascinating . . . 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. He follows the lives of numerous young Amish in the midst of the tumultuous 'Rumspringa' years.--Richard Horan, The Christian Science Monitor An] absorbing study of Amish youth . . . Shachtman's interviews (conducted among the Amish of Pennsylvania, Indiana and Ohio) form the backbone of the narrative and are the strongest, liveliest aspects of the book . . . The author's reporting is so scrupulous and open-minded that the mainstream reader can almost appreciate the punitive nature of the Amish practice of shunning, where, to 'keep the church pure, ' the community turns its collective back on a member who has broken rules, which include everything from disobeying biblical law to using too much electricity to run farm equipment.--Karen Karbo, Newsday Rumspringa is most powerful when the ideas and beliefs of the Amish coalesce into living, breathing--and oftentimes sympathetic--young people caught in the throes of torrential self-examination . . . Shachtman is particularly sensitive to the shunning and its threat, and expertly uses the many feelings it evokes---from terror to respect---as the final ingredients in this engaging, bittersweet story.--Patrick Somerville, Time Out Chicago Fascinating . . . a very thoughtful and fair-minded exploration of Amish] society.--Debra Hamel, The Midwest Book Review If there are two groups that are difficult for an outsider to understand, it's surely Amish and adolescents--but Shachtman's book penetrates their world and provides a wealth of fascinating information. Oh, and it's really fun to read, too.--Mark Oppenheimer, author of Thirteen and a Day This in-depth, generally fascinating account presents the hardships and rewards of that lifestyle, focusing on young Amish who must make a choice about it . . . a rivet

Synopsis:

Rumspringa is Tom Shachtmans celebrated look at a littleknown Amish coming-of-age ritual, the rumspringa—the period of “running around” that begins for their youth at age sixteen. During this time, Amish youth are allowed to live outside the bounds of their faith, experimenting with alcohol, premarital sex, revealing clothes, telephones, drugs, and wild parties. By allowing such broad freedoms, their parents hope they will learn enough to help them make the most important decision of their lives—whether to be baptized as Christians, join the church, and forever give up worldly ways, or to remain in the world.

In this searching book, Shachtman draws on his skills as a documentarian to capture young people on the cusp of a fateful decision, and to give us “one of the most absorbing books ever written about the Plain People” (Publishers Weekly).

Tom Shachtman is an award-winning documentarian and the author of many books, including Skyscraper Dreams, Around the Block, and The Day America Crashed.
Rumspringa is Tom Shachtmans celebrated look at a little-known Amish coming-of-age ritual, the rumspringa—the period of “running around” that begins for their youth at age sixteen. During this time, Amish youth are allowed to live outside the bounds of their faith, experimenting with alcohol, premarital sex, revealing clothes, telephones, drugs, and wild parties. By allowing such broad freedoms, their parents hope they will learn enough to help them make the most important decision of their lives—whether to be baptized as Christians, join the church, and forever give up worldly ways, or to remain in the world.

In this searching book, Shachtman draws on his skills as a documentarian to capture young people on the cusp of a fateful decision, and to give us “one of the most absorbing books ever written about the Plain People” (Publishers Weekly).

"Mr. Shachtman's wonderfully rich portrait and history of the Amish as a people and a faith helps to show why one of the strictest religious communities in America is better at holding a flock than some of the most liberal."—Donna Freitas, The Wall Street Journal
"Never sensationalizing, Shachtman lets the teenagers themselves articulate the struggle to choose between a tradition bound life and the myriad temptations of 'the real world.'"—Adriana Leshko, The Washington Post
 
"Mr. Shachtman's wonderfully rich portrait and history of the Amish as a people and a faith helps to show why one of the strictest religious communities in America is better at holding a flock than some of the most liberal."—Donna Freitas, The Wall Street Journal
 
"Shachtman has conducted extensive research and interviews to give us entree to the world of Amish adolescents and culture . . . Many of the individual teen narratives share a common structure: excitement for the new freedom, conflict with family as they move deeper into partying and outside culture, followed by reconciliation and return to the church. But the portraits themselves are finely drawn and reveal the individuals in the community. Shachtman takes his subject and his readers seriously. His study is scholarly but never academic. Anyone interested in U.S. religion or youth culture will enjoy this enlightening and insightful book."—Martin Schmutterer, The Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
 
"[Tom Shachtman's] description of the phenomenon is excellent, using the sort of documentary technique mastered by Tony Parker in Bird, Kansas, Lighthouse and Soldier, Soldier—letting the burden of the story be carried by the characters' own words."—Roger K. Miller, The Washington Times
 
"The author uses the rumspringa experience to provide a rare look inside a closed society . . . The strength of Shachtman's book is the candor he summons from his subjects and his sketch-artist description of a strange place and its people . . . I found myself fascinated with the clash of cultures."—Chicago Sun-Times 
 
"Fascinating . . . 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. He follows the lives of numerous young Amish in the midst of the tumultuous 'Rumspringa' years."—Richard Horan, The Christian Science Monitor
 
"[An] absorbing study of Amish youth . . . Shachtman's interviews (conducted among the Amish of Pennsylvania, Indiana and Ohio) form the backbone of the narrative and are the strongest, liveliest aspects of the book . . . The author's reporting is so scrupulous and open-minded that the mainstream reader can almost appreciate the punitive nature of the Amish practice of shunning, where, to 'keep the church pure,' the community turns its collective back on a member who has broken rules, which include everything from disobeying biblical law to using too much electricity to run farm equipment."—Karen Karbo, Newsday
 
"Rumspringa is most powerful when the ideas and beliefs of the Amish coalesce into living, breathing—and oftentimes sympathetic—young people caught in the throes of torrential self-examination . . . Shachtman is particularly sensitive to the shunning and its threat, and expertly uses the many feelings it evokes­—from terror to respect­—as the final ingredients in this engaging, bittersweet story."—Patrick Somerville, Time Out Chicago
 
"Fascinating . . . a very thoughtful and fair-minded exploration of [Amish] society."—Debra Hamel, The Midwest Book Review
 
"If there are two groups that are difficult for an outsider to understand, it's surely Amish and adolescents—but Shachtman's book penetrates their world and provides a wealth of fascinating information. Oh, and it's really fun to read, too."—Mark Oppenheimer, author of Thirteen and a Day
 
"This in-depth, generally fascinating account presents the hardships and rewards of that lifestyle, focusing on young Amish who must make a choice about it . . . a riveting and instructive portrait."—Kirkus Reviews
 
"Rumspringa is a Pennsylvania Dutch term roughly translatable as 'running around.' In an Amish context, it denotes a period during adolescence, beginning at 16, when Amish youths are allowed to be on their own, usually for the first time, and experiment with alcohol, sex, and drugs. Rumspringa ends when a youth agrees to be baptized into the church. Shachtman interviewed more than 400 Amish youth and their parents during a six-year period, out of which came Lucy Walker's 2002 documentary film Devil's Playground. He then conducted more interviews and more follow-up in 2002-04. More than 80 percent of Amish join the church after rumspringa gives them their first experience of independence. Shachtman sheds considerable light on what for many others is a mysterious subculture, providing what is not only absorbing reading but also touching portraits of teenagers on the cusp of adulthood. Besides many case studies, he discusses Amish education, faith and doctrine, the practice of 'shunning,' and the role Amish women play in the household."—Booklist

 

"Writer, novelist, and documentarian Shachtman has created a fascinating and near-unprecedented glimpse into the inner lives of Amish society. The Amish, descendants of a German separatist sect long settled in this country, live apart from mainstream culture in almost every way, with the curious exception that, for a brief period in their adolescence, Amish youth are permitted a spell of license and experimentation before they decide to become full Amish adults. This work, based in part on research done for the related documentary, Devil's Playground, sensitively addresses the unique position of the Amish and the challenges they face. Highly recommended."—Library Journal

 

"A teenage Amish girl sits in her buggy, one hand dangling a cigarette while the other holds a cellphone in which she is loudly chatting away. This girl, like many Amish teens 16 and older, is in a period called rumspringa, when the strict rules of community life are temporarily lifted while an adolescent chooses whether to be baptized into the church and abide fully by its laws. Shachtman, a documentarian who began studying this phenomenon for the film The Devil's Playground, is a sensitive and nimble chronicler of Amish teens, devoting ample space to allowing them to tell their stories in their own words. And their stories are fascinating, from the wild ones who engage in weekend-long parties, complete with hard drugs and sexual promiscuity, to the more sedate and pious teens who prefer to engage in careful courtship rituals under the bemused eyes of adult Amish chaperones. Shachtman's tone is by turns admiring—of the work ethic, strong families and religious faith that undergird Amish life—and critical, especially of the sect's treatment of women and its suspicion of education beyond the eighth grade. Throughout, Shachtman uses the Amish rumspringa experience as a foil for understanding American adolescence and identity formation in general, and also contextualizes rumspringa throughout the rapidly growing and changing Amish world. This is not only one of the most absorbing books ever written about the Plain People but a perceptive snapshot of the larger culture in which they live and move."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

About the Author

Tom Schachtman is an award-winning documentarian and the author of many books, including Skyscraper Dreams, Around the Block, and The Day America Crashed.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

orva schrock, May 5, 2013 (view all comments by orva schrock)
I was born and raised in Northern Indiana in the community that figures prominitely in this book. Moreover, my father was an Amish preacher and so the book was a look back at my own early life. I'm now 64 and left the Amish at 18.

It is so true as Mr Shachtman writes; these young 'rumspringa' Amish kids feel like a fish out of water when they go out into their 'worldly' adventuring.

I struggled for years in my young adulthood to find a new view of life in the world that did not seem so scary and hostile as i had been warned it would be. Although by the time i read this fine book i was pretty well over my worries, nevertheless, i found this book to be the best inside look at Amish youth culture that i have ever seen. For anyone wanting a true view into this unusual lifestyle, this book is the real deal.
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Shoshana, September 30, 2007 (view all comments by Shoshana)
The Amish are an Anabaptist sect, so members must make a decision to join rather than be baptized at birth. "Rumspringa" refers to a period in Amish adolescence when the teen must decide whether to join the church. This decision may include exploration of the "English" community (i.e., everyone else), including driving, substances, and sex. Contrary to the book's assertion that this is a coming of age rite, it seems more accurate to understand it as a developmental period--it is protracted, it is not engaged in by all Amish teens (and perhaps not even by most), and many families seem to protest it.

The book is oddly U.S. majority culture-centric. The author tries to bring developmental theory into the mix, but uses theories that for the most part are out of date, not empirically validated, or see adherence to U. S. majority values as the only successful outcome. He implies that Amish youth are psychologically underdeveloped, ignoring the reality that most of the world's youth live in collectively-oriented cultures and have even less than the Amish youths' 8th grade education. The book is best when it sticks to anthropology; when it tends toward pop psychological interpretation, it is less compelling.

I kept wondering what it's like to be a gay Amish youth who holds traditional Amish values. That's a book I'd read.
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(18 of 33 readers found this comment helpful)
pamela feutz, March 30, 2007 (view all comments by pamela feutz)
I live in MIchigan. I am very intrigued with the Amish. They are all around us. This book gives you an insight into them. It also tells about RUMSPRINGA that I very rarely heard about. Thye dont not talk publically about "running around" another term for Rumspringa. I found I loved the book. During the running around time, they are able to try out the English way off life.
They drink and smoke and some do drugs. If your are intrigued by other cultures give th book a read.

You could also watch "DEVIL'S PLAYGROUND". A documentary that follows amish teens through rumspringa.

I believe you would all enjoy the book and the movie.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780865477421
Author:
Shachtman, Tom
Publisher:
North Point Press
Subject:
Anthropology - Cultural
Subject:
Customs & Traditions
Subject:
Sociology of Religion
Subject:
Christianity - Amish
Subject:
Life Stages - Adolescence
Subject:
Conduct of life
Subject:
Religious life
Subject:
Rumspringa
Subject:
Amish teenagers - Conduct of life
Subject:
Christianity-Amish and Mennonite
Subject:
Christianity-Amish, Mennonite, and Hutterite
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20070531
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Includes Notes and a Bibliography
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
7.97 x 5.92 x 0.77 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Anthropology » Cultural Anthropology
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
Religion » Christianity » Amish, Mennonite, and Hutterite
Religion » Christianity » Miscellaneous Denominations
Religion » Western Religions » Denominations
Religion » Western Religions » Social and Political Issues

Rumspringa: To Be or Not to Be Amish Used Trade Paper
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Product details 304 pages North Point Press - English 9780865477421 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "A teenage Amish girl sits in her buggy, one hand dangling a cigarette while the other holds a cellphone in which she is loudly chatting away. This girl, like many Amish teens 16 and older, is in a period called rumspringa, when the strict rules of community life are temporarily lifted while an adolescent chooses whether to be baptized into the church and abide fully by its laws. Shachtman, a documentarian who began studying this phenomenon for the film The Devil's Playground, is a sensitive and nimble chronicler of Amish teens, devoting ample space to allowing them to tell their stories in their own words. And their stories are fascinating, from the wild ones who engage in weekend-long parties, complete with hard drugs and sexual promiscuity, to the more sedate and pious teens who prefer to engage in careful courtship rituals under the bemused eyes of adult Amish chaperones. Shachtman's tone is by turns admiring — of the work ethic, strong families and religious faith that undergird Amish life — and critical, especially of the sect's treatment of women and its suspicion of education beyond the eighth grade. Throughout, Shachtman uses the Amish rumspringa experience as a foil for understanding American adolescence and identity formation in general, and also contextualizes rumspringa throughout the rapidly growing and changing Amish world. This is not only one of the most absorbing books ever written about the Plain People but a perceptive snapshot of the larger culture in which they live and move." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "[As] much about the Amish faith and way of life in general as it is about rumspringa. It is as good an introduction to Amish culture as the average reader could ask for."
"Review" by , "Shachtman's book...far surpasses the documentary....It provides lucid mini-essays on Amish history and practice, conversations with a much broader cross-section of Amish youth."
"Review" by , "A fascinating glimpse into the lives of Amish youth."
"Review" by , "The author's reporting is so scrupulous and open-minded that the mainstream reader can almost appreciate the punitive nature of the Amish practice of shunning."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "[A] riveting and instructive portrait."
"Review" by , "While readers familiar with the Amish as neighbors will find much insight into the plain people's whys and wherefores here, all teens will find accessible information about the psychology of late adolescence and the developmental work of independence."
"Review" by , "This work, based in part on research done for the related documentary, Devil's Playground, sensitively addresses the unique position of the Amish and the challenges they face."
"Synopsis" by , Rumspringa is Tom Shachtman's celebrated look at a littleknown Amish coming-of-age ritual, the rumspringa--the period of running around that begins for their youth at age sixteen. During this time, Amish youth are allowed to live outside the bounds of their faith, experimenting with alcohol, premarital sex, revealing clothes, telephones, drugs, and wild parties. By allowing such broad freedoms, their parents hope they will learn enough to help them make the most important decision of their lives--whether to be baptized as Christians, join the church, and forever give up worldly ways, or to remain in the world.

In this searching book, Shachtman draws on his skills as a documentarian to capture young people on the cusp of a fateful decision, and to give us one of the most absorbing books ever written about the Plain People (Publishers Weekly). Tom Shachtman is an award-winning documentarian and the author of many books, including Skyscraper Dreams, Around the Block, and The Day America Crashed. Rumspringa is Tom Shachtman's celebrated look at a little-known Amish coming-of-age ritual, the rumspringa--the period of running around that begins for their youth at age sixteen. During this time, Amish youth are allowed to live outside the bounds of their faith, experimenting with alcohol, premarital sex, revealing clothes, telephones, drugs, and wild parties. By allowing such broad freedoms, their parents hope they will learn enough to help them make the most important decision of their lives--whether to be baptized as Christians, join the church, and forever give up worldly ways, or to remain in the world.

In this searching book, Shachtman draws on his skills as a documentarian to capture young people on the cusp of a fateful decision, and to give us one of the most absorbing books ever written about the Plain People (Publishers Weekly).Mr. Shachtman's wonderfully rich portrait and history of the Amish as a people and a faith helps to show why one of the strictest religious communities in America is better at holding a flock than some of the most liberal.--Donna Freitas, The Wall Street Journal Never sensationalizing, Shachtman lets the teenagers themselves articulate the struggle to choose between a tradition bound life and the myriad temptations of 'the real world.'--Adriana Leshko, The Washington Post Mr. Shachtman's wonderfully rich portrait and history of the Amish as a people and a faith helps to show why one of the strictest religious communities in America is better at holding a flock than some of the most liberal.--Donna Freitas, The Wall Street Journal Shachtman has conducted extensive research and interviews to give us entree to the world of Amish adolescents and culture . . . Many of the individual teen narratives share a common structure: excitement for the new freedom, conflict with family as they move deeper into partying and outside culture, followed by reconciliation and return to the church. But the portraits themselves are finely drawn and reveal the individuals in the community. Shachtman takes his subject and his readers seriously. His study is scholarly but never academic. Anyone interested in U.S. religion or youth culture will enjoy this enlightening and insightful book.--Martin Schmutterer, The Star Tribune (Minneapolis) Tom Shachtman's] description of the phenomenon is excellent, using the sort of documentary technique mastered by Tony Parker in Bird, Kansas, Lighthouse and Soldier, Soldier--letting the burden of the story be carried by the characters' own words.--Roger K. Miller, The Washington Times The author uses the rumspringa experience to provide a rare look inside a closed society . . . The strength of Shachtman's book is the candor he summons from his subjects and his sketch-artist description of a strange place and its people . . . I found myself fascinated with the clash of cultures.--Chicago Sun-Times Fascinating . . . 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. He follows the lives of numerous young Amish in the midst of the tumultuous 'Rumspringa' years.--Richard Horan, The Christian Science Monitor An] absorbing study of Amish youth . . . Shachtman's interviews (conducted among the Amish of Pennsylvania, Indiana and Ohio) form the backbone of the narrative and are the strongest, liveliest aspects of the book . . . The author's reporting is so scrupulous and open-minded that the mainstream reader can almost appreciate the punitive nature of the Amish practice of shunning, where, to 'keep the church pure, ' the community turns its collective back on a member who has broken rules, which include everything from disobeying biblical law to using too much electricity to run farm equipment.--Karen Karbo, Newsday Rumspringa is most powerful when the ideas and beliefs of the Amish coalesce into living, breathing--and oftentimes sympathetic--young people caught in the throes of torrential self-examination . . . Shachtman is particularly sensitive to the shunning and its threat, and expertly uses the many feelings it evokes---from terror to respect---as the final ingredients in this engaging, bittersweet story.--Patrick Somerville, Time Out Chicago Fascinating . . . a very thoughtful and fair-minded exploration of Amish] society.--Debra Hamel, The Midwest Book Review If there are two groups that are difficult for an outsider to understand, it's surely Amish and adolescents--but Shachtman's book penetrates their world and provides a wealth of fascinating information. Oh, and it's really fun to read, too.--Mark Oppenheimer, author of Thirteen and a Day This in-depth, generally fascinating account presents the hardships and rewards of that lifestyle, focusing on young Amish who must make a choice about it . . . a rivet

"Synopsis" by ,
Rumspringa is Tom Shachtmans celebrated look at a littleknown Amish coming-of-age ritual, the rumspringa—the period of “running around” that begins for their youth at age sixteen. During this time, Amish youth are allowed to live outside the bounds of their faith, experimenting with alcohol, premarital sex, revealing clothes, telephones, drugs, and wild parties. By allowing such broad freedoms, their parents hope they will learn enough to help them make the most important decision of their lives—whether to be baptized as Christians, join the church, and forever give up worldly ways, or to remain in the world.

In this searching book, Shachtman draws on his skills as a documentarian to capture young people on the cusp of a fateful decision, and to give us “one of the most absorbing books ever written about the Plain People” (Publishers Weekly).

Tom Shachtman is an award-winning documentarian and the author of many books, including Skyscraper Dreams, Around the Block, and The Day America Crashed.
Rumspringa is Tom Shachtmans celebrated look at a little-known Amish coming-of-age ritual, the rumspringa—the period of “running around” that begins for their youth at age sixteen. During this time, Amish youth are allowed to live outside the bounds of their faith, experimenting with alcohol, premarital sex, revealing clothes, telephones, drugs, and wild parties. By allowing such broad freedoms, their parents hope they will learn enough to help them make the most important decision of their lives—whether to be baptized as Christians, join the church, and forever give up worldly ways, or to remain in the world.

In this searching book, Shachtman draws on his skills as a documentarian to capture young people on the cusp of a fateful decision, and to give us “one of the most absorbing books ever written about the Plain People” (Publishers Weekly).

"Mr. Shachtman's wonderfully rich portrait and history of the Amish as a people and a faith helps to show why one of the strictest religious communities in America is better at holding a flock than some of the most liberal."—Donna Freitas, The Wall Street Journal
"Never sensationalizing, Shachtman lets the teenagers themselves articulate the struggle to choose between a tradition bound life and the myriad temptations of 'the real world.'"—Adriana Leshko, The Washington Post
 
"Mr. Shachtman's wonderfully rich portrait and history of the Amish as a people and a faith helps to show why one of the strictest religious communities in America is better at holding a flock than some of the most liberal."—Donna Freitas, The Wall Street Journal
 
"Shachtman has conducted extensive research and interviews to give us entree to the world of Amish adolescents and culture . . . Many of the individual teen narratives share a common structure: excitement for the new freedom, conflict with family as they move deeper into partying and outside culture, followed by reconciliation and return to the church. But the portraits themselves are finely drawn and reveal the individuals in the community. Shachtman takes his subject and his readers seriously. His study is scholarly but never academic. Anyone interested in U.S. religion or youth culture will enjoy this enlightening and insightful book."—Martin Schmutterer, The Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
 
"[Tom Shachtman's] description of the phenomenon is excellent, using the sort of documentary technique mastered by Tony Parker in Bird, Kansas, Lighthouse and Soldier, Soldier—letting the burden of the story be carried by the characters' own words."—Roger K. Miller, The Washington Times
 
"The author uses the rumspringa experience to provide a rare look inside a closed society . . . The strength of Shachtman's book is the candor he summons from his subjects and his sketch-artist description of a strange place and its people . . . I found myself fascinated with the clash of cultures."—Chicago Sun-Times 
 
"Fascinating . . . 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. He follows the lives of numerous young Amish in the midst of the tumultuous 'Rumspringa' years."—Richard Horan, The Christian Science Monitor
 
"[An] absorbing study of Amish youth . . . Shachtman's interviews (conducted among the Amish of Pennsylvania, Indiana and Ohio) form the backbone of the narrative and are the strongest, liveliest aspects of the book . . . The author's reporting is so scrupulous and open-minded that the mainstream reader can almost appreciate the punitive nature of the Amish practice of shunning, where, to 'keep the church pure,' the community turns its collective back on a member who has broken rules, which include everything from disobeying biblical law to using too much electricity to run farm equipment."—Karen Karbo, Newsday
 
"Rumspringa is most powerful when the ideas and beliefs of the Amish coalesce into living, breathing—and oftentimes sympathetic—young people caught in the throes of torrential self-examination . . . Shachtman is particularly sensitive to the shunning and its threat, and expertly uses the many feelings it evokes­—from terror to respect­—as the final ingredients in this engaging, bittersweet story."—Patrick Somerville, Time Out Chicago
 
"Fascinating . . . a very thoughtful and fair-minded exploration of [Amish] society."—Debra Hamel, The Midwest Book Review
 
"If there are two groups that are difficult for an outsider to understand, it's surely Amish and adolescents—but Shachtman's book penetrates their world and provides a wealth of fascinating information. Oh, and it's really fun to read, too."—Mark Oppenheimer, author of Thirteen and a Day
 
"This in-depth, generally fascinating account presents the hardships and rewards of that lifestyle, focusing on young Amish who must make a choice about it . . . a riveting and instructive portrait."—Kirkus Reviews
 
"Rumspringa is a Pennsylvania Dutch term roughly translatable as 'running around.' In an Amish context, it denotes a period during adolescence, beginning at 16, when Amish youths are allowed to be on their own, usually for the first time, and experiment with alcohol, sex, and drugs. Rumspringa ends when a youth agrees to be baptized into the church. Shachtman interviewed more than 400 Amish youth and their parents during a six-year period, out of which came Lucy Walker's 2002 documentary film Devil's Playground. He then conducted more interviews and more follow-up in 2002-04. More than 80 percent of Amish join the church after rumspringa gives them their first experience of independence. Shachtman sheds considerable light on what for many others is a mysterious subculture, providing what is not only absorbing reading but also touching portraits of teenagers on the cusp of adulthood. Besides many case studies, he discusses Amish education, faith and doctrine, the practice of 'shunning,' and the role Amish women play in the household."—Booklist

 

"Writer, novelist, and documentarian Shachtman has created a fascinating and near-unprecedented glimpse into the inner lives of Amish society. The Amish, descendants of a German separatist sect long settled in this country, live apart from mainstream culture in almost every way, with the curious exception that, for a brief period in their adolescence, Amish youth are permitted a spell of license and experimentation before they decide to become full Amish adults. This work, based in part on research done for the related documentary, Devil's Playground, sensitively addresses the unique position of the Amish and the challenges they face. Highly recommended."—Library Journal

 

"A teenage Amish girl sits in her buggy, one hand dangling a cigarette while the other holds a cellphone in which she is loudly chatting away. This girl, like many Amish teens 16 and older, is in a period called rumspringa, when the strict rules of community life are temporarily lifted while an adolescent chooses whether to be baptized into the church and abide fully by its laws. Shachtman, a documentarian who began studying this phenomenon for the film The Devil's Playground, is a sensitive and nimble chronicler of Amish teens, devoting ample space to allowing them to tell their stories in their own words. And their stories are fascinating, from the wild ones who engage in weekend-long parties, complete with hard drugs and sexual promiscuity, to the more sedate and pious teens who prefer to engage in careful courtship rituals under the bemused eyes of adult Amish chaperones. Shachtman's tone is by turns admiring—of the work ethic, strong families and religious faith that undergird Amish life—and critical, especially of the sect's treatment of women and its suspicion of education beyond the eighth grade. Throughout, Shachtman uses the Amish rumspringa experience as a foil for understanding American adolescence and identity formation in general, and also contextualizes rumspringa throughout the rapidly growing and changing Amish world. This is not only one of the most absorbing books ever written about the Plain People but a perceptive snapshot of the larger culture in which they live and move."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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