20 Most Asked Questions about the Amish and Mennonites by Merle and Phyllis Good is a quick, easy read for those who want a short summary about these religious groups. It is 96 pages in length and includes a helpful glossary and index. Except for two chapters, four pages are devoted to each question. The answers are useful, but none of them are very detailed. This is because of the large number of photos in the book. It only contains about 65 pages worth of text. Some of the questions it discusses include, “Why Do They Dress That Way?” and “What are Their Weddings Like?” It has a diversity of subject matter that is appreciated.
There are two main things that stand out about the book. First, it is quite dated. It is a 1995 update of a book that was originally published in 1979. Some of the photos are not very clear and a number of them are probably 40 years old. Many appear to be taken in the 1970’s. Second, even though the book does provide answers, one may find that it also brings up new questions that are not resolved. For example, in the chapter about Amish and Mennonite problems there is a comment about the tension between the group and the individual (pg. 77). What does that entail? This reviewer doesn’t know. The book only states it as another problem that could be highlighted, but doesn’t actually address it.
Although small, this work is valuable in a number of ways. It provides an intriguing snapshot of Amish and Mennonite life in the second half of the 20th century. While stressing simplicity, the family, and the value of hard work, it gives inspiration to those who read it. At least it did for this reviewer. The book’s greatest faults are how short it is and the possibility of it being out of date. Speaking of which, similar material can easily be found online. That is almost a shame because I want others to appreciate it like I did. I found 20 Most Asked Questions about the Amish and Mennonites to be a good book that was enjoyable, but no longer as useful as it once was because of so many more current resources available online.
My Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Two Amish Men Farming by emailamyd from Pixabay.