Johns Hopkins University Press, Hardcover, 9781421409146, 500pp.
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
The Amish have always struggled with the modern world. Known for their simple clothing, plain lifestyle, and horse-and-buggy mode of transportation, Amish communities continually face outside pressures to modify their cultural patterns, social organization, and religious world view. An intimate portrait of Amish life, "The Amish" explores not only the emerging diversity and evolving identities within this distinctive American ethnic community, but also its transformation and geographic expansion.
Donald B. Kraybill, Karen M. Johnson-Weiner, and Steven M. Nolt spent twenty-five years researching Amish history, religion, and culture. Drawing on archival material, direct observations, and oral history, the authors provide an authoritative and sensitive understanding of Amish society.
Amish people do not evangelize, yet their numbers in North America have grown from a small community of some 6,000 people in the early 1900s to a thriving population of more than 275,000 today. The largest populations are found in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, with additional communities in twenty-seven other states and Ontario.
The authors argue that the intensely private and insular Amish have devised creative ways to negotiate with modernity that have enabled them to thrive in America. The transformation of the Amish in the American imagination from "backward bumpkins" to media icons poses provocative questions. What does the Amish story reveal about the American character, popular culture, and mainstream values? Richly illustrated, "The Amish" is the definitive portrayal of the Amish in America in the twenty-first century.
James O. Lehman is director emeritus of libraries at Eastern Mennonite University and an archivist for the Virginia Mennonite Conference. He is the author of several books, most recently A Century of Grace: In the Community and around the World. Steven M. Nolt is a professor of history at Goshen College and coauthor of Amish Enterprise: From Plows to Profits and Plain Diversity: Amish Cultures and Identities, both published by Johns Hopkins.