Rumspringa: To be Or Not to be Amish

Front Cover
Macmillan, Jan 1, 2006 - Social Science - 286 pages
83 Reviews
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.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

A good, straightforward depiction of Amish life. - Goodreads
This was an incredible book -- great insight. - Goodreads
interesting overview of this amish phase of life. - Goodreads
Very well researched and written. - Goodreads
April selection for online book club - Goodreads

Review: Rumspringa: To Be or Not to Be Amish

User Review  - Colette - Goodreads

Rumspringa is an interesting topic, but Tom Shachtman's writing was so scattered and unorganized that it made for a difficult read. Read full review

Review: Rumspringa: To Be or Not to Be Amish

User Review  - aloveiz - Goodreads

Choppy and carelessly pieced together feigned-narrative of interviews. Reads like rough notes for sections of the documentary that were not kept in the final film edit. Leading and biased. Unimpressive. Read full review


Going Away
A Glory Old Time
Straightforward Conversations
Prepare for Usefulness
Stand Fast and Believe the Word as Written
To Keep the Church Pure
The Ideal Occupation
Working Away
Womens Lib Would Have a Field Day Among the Amish
Seeking Solutions
Coming Home An Essay
Selected Bibliography

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2006)

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

Bibliographic information