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Plain Secrets: An Outsider among the Amish [Hardcover]

Our Price $ 21.21  
Retail Value $ 24.95  
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Item Number 424042  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   256
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   0.95 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   May 15, 2007
Publisher   Beacon Press
ISBN  0807010642  
EAN  9780807010648  

Availability  0 units.

Alternate Formats List Price Our Price Item Number Availability
Hardcover $ 24.95 $ 21.21 424042
Paperback $ 18.00 $ 15.30 91984 In Stock
Item Description...
The author describes his relationship with a neighboring Swartzentruber Amish family, the Shetlers, over sixteen years, using the example of the Shetlers to look at the lives and customs of the Swartzentruber Amish in general.

Publishers Description
Joe Mackall has lived surrounded by the Swartzentruber Amish community of Ashland County, Ohio, for over sixteen years. They are the most traditional and insular of all the Amish sects: the Swartzentrubers live without gas, electricity, or indoor plumbing; without lights on their buggies or cushioned chairs in their homes; and without rumspringa, the recently popularized "running-around time" that some Amish sects allow their sixteen-year-olds.

Over the years, Mackall has developed a steady relationship with the Shetler family (Samuel and Mary, their nine children, and their extended family). Plain Secrets tells the Shetlers' story over these years, using their lives to paint a portrait of Swartzentruber Amish life and mores. During this time, Samuel's nephew Jonas finally rejects the strictures of the Amish way of life for good, after two failed attempts to leave, and his bright young daughter reaches the end of school for Amish children: the eighth grade. But Plain Secrets is also the story of the unusual friendship between Samuel and Joe. Samuel is quietly bemused—and, one suspects, secretly delighted—at Joe's ignorance of crops and planting, carpentry and cattle. He knows Joe is planning to write a book about the family, and yet he allows him a glimpse of the tensions inside this intensely private community.

These and other stories from the life of the family reveal the larger questions posed by the Amish way of life. If the continued existence of the Amish in the midst of modern society asks us to consider the appeal of traditional, highly restrictive, and gendered religious communities, it also asks how we romanticize or condemn these communities—and why. Mackall's attempt to parse these questions—to write as honestly as possible about what he has seen of Amish life—tests his relationship with Samuel and reveals the limits of a friendship between "English" and Amish.
"In simple but elegant prose that matches the values of his subject, Joe Mackall takes us deep into the Amish community. He neither romanticizes nor condemns an alternate way of living, but provides stunning insight through the generosity and compassion of his own heart."—Chris Offutt, author of The Same River Twice and Kentucky Straight

"Joe Mackall's Plain Secrets: An Outsider Among the Amish meets the biggest challenge of a book such as this by living up to his subtitle: Mackall is both outside and among in equal measure, and it's the most difficult terrain to occupy. Plain Secrets vibrates in that in-betweenness, in ways that only songs or poems usually can, and it does so in prose that's as clear as water. It's built the way the Amish build their barns—everything here is plumb and level." —Diana Hume George, author of The Lonely Other: A Woman Watching America

"Joe Mackall's patience, empathy, and dogged curiosity illuminate this fine, fascinating study of an elusive culture. Plain Secrets is a provocative, humbling, and soulful book."—Joshua Wolf Shenk, author of Lincoln's Melancholy

Buy Plain Secrets: An Outsider among the Amish by Joe MacKall from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9780807010648 & 0807010642

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More About Joe MacKall

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Joe Mackall is the author of The Last Street Before Cleveland. A professor of English and journalism at Ashland University, he is coeditor of the journal River Teeth and has written for NPR's Morning Edition, the Washington Post, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer, among other publications. Mackall lives in West Salem, Ohio.

Joe Mackall was born in 1958.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Education > Homeschooling > General   [9269  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Protestantism > Amish   [0  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Excellent Read !  Mar 9, 2010
This book is one of the best that I have ever read on the Amish culture, and I have read quite a few over the years. It is unbiased and honest in it's portrayal of personalities and circumstances of cultural choices. It is written with accuracy and with a sense of humor that is equally aimed at the "quirks" of the "Englisher" as well as the culture the author is writing about. Excellent read!
NO secret  Feb 16, 2010
I think this was a well written book.I'm glad that it was written just the way it was.I think some books are over criticized.I'm glad he was allowed to do this.It gave a good insight.He is honest and very fair and still shows his own opinion is safe within himself.I see he has conflict over some issues,which is great.Makes a person think about this book.Good job
Amish plain secrets  Feb 1, 2010
What a great book! The people are very interesting. One can learn much about the Amish. Good reading.
Repetitive, needs a good editor  Jan 23, 2010
I was looking forward to this book, but found it to be very superficial and quite repetitive-- each chapter seemed to re-cap the previous one, anecdotes circled around without resolution or commentary. I suppose I was looking for a more analytical or academic text. If you are looking for one person's individual experience with one Amish family, without much analysis or reflection, then this is the book for you. It was not the book for me.
Very interesting  Dec 26, 2009
This was a fascinating book, written by a longtime neighbor and friend of an Amish minister, so has unique insight into Amish culture.

Write your own review about Plain Secrets: An Outsider among the Amish

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