Rumspringa, To Be Or Not To Be Amish

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Rumspringa by Tom Shachtman“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. Now in paperback.                  

A favored title of book discussion groups, for dialogues on faith, morals, and the difficulty of raising teenagers.

Some additional excerpted reviews, below.

Publishers Weekly starred review: “Shachtman is a sensitive and nimble chronicler of Amish teens, devoting ample space to allowing them to tell their stories in their own words. Throughout, he 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.”

“Writer, novelist, and documentarian Shachtman has created a fascinating and near-unprecedented glimpse into the inner lives of Amish society. High recommended.” Library Journal

“A riveting and instructive portrait,” Kirkus Reviews

“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.” Wall Street Journal

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The Most Beautiful Villages of New England

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The Most Beautiful Villages of New England by Tom Shachtman“This is one of the few ‘coffee table’ books I own. But it covers all the gems and must-see villages … and provides plenty of information on the history and architecture of each …. In the depth of a New England winter this is a book I take to bed with me and dream of spring.” — The New England Online Magazine.

Honored as the birthplace of the Revolution, the six states that comprise New England are home to some of this country’s most beautiful and cherished villages–places that preserve and reflect its architectural and cultural legacy. Here, in countless public squares and cemeteries, are monuments to the battles of the Revolution, and memorials to the heirs of the revolutionaries who themselves marched off to preserve the Union during the Civil War.

One of the most splendid repositories of American institutional architecture is found in New England’s public meeting halls and churches, and in the industrial mills and factories of the nineteenth century. The book also celebrates New England’s rich tradition of domestic architecture: seaside homes clad in weathered gray shingles, white clapboard houses surrounding village greens, and exuberant Victorian gingerbread homes. New England is justly famous for its succession of intensely realized seasons: its deep and snowy winter; its spring, which bursts forth in a cascade of melting snow and budding vegetation; its leafy, languid summer days; and, perhaps most famously, its autumn, when the landscape seems to be on fire with the vivid reds, oranges, and yellows of the foliage.

The Most Beautiful Villages of New England presents over twenty-five towns and villages, chosen for their beauty and history, and for their diverse geography. Here are the fishing villages and towns of New England’s rocky Atlantic Coast, from famous summer watering holes to isolated island hamlets. We explore farming villages and the highlands of New England’s mountain ranges–the Adirondacks, Berkshires, and Green Mountains. In the river valleys we find quiet, exquisitely preserved communities and renovated mill and factory towns.

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The Inarticulate Society

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The Inarticulate Society: Eloquence and Culture in America by Tom Shachtman“A perceptive and disturbing book …. Our inability to use language articulately has consequences beyond aesthetics, says Shachtman. It threatens the survival of democracy ….. Loss of analytic capacity makes us easy prey for Big Brother and his Orwellian gang.” — Washington Post Book World

                        
Originally published in 1995, THE INARTICULATE SOCIETY: ELOQUENCE AND CULTURE IN AMERICA has been reissued in paperback because of continued interest in the book and its subject — articulate behavior. As with RUMSPRINGA, it has become a favorite of book clubs seeking good topics for discussions. Here’s why, in a review from the American Library Association:

“People talk more and say less, and that summarizes Shachtman’s wide-ranging analysis of the verbal ineptitude that television so obviously fosters. But he doesn’t saddle the tube with sole responsibility for ineloquence. It more abets than causes the crisis, which emanates from deeper problems, such as the mass appetite for witless entertainment in talk shows, sitcoms, or action movies. Trenchant examples of disjointed, muddled speech overlay the scholarly linguistic theories that Shachtman explains, making this a rich warning about the ever-growing impoverishment of public rhetoric.”

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The Forty Years War

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THE FORTY YEARS WAR, THE RISE AND FALL OF THE NEOCONS FROM NIXON TO OBAMA, by Len Colodny and Tom Shachtman. Now in paperback. “An eye-opening, provocative history of the neoconservative movement from its little-known role in Richard Nixon’s downfall through its ultimate expression in the preemptive war in Iraq.” — History Book Club News   

“Absorbing…a must read….illuminating and deeply provocative….The Forty Years War is a book that deserves to have a much higher public profile as Colodny and Shachtman are marshalling new evidence to challenge conventional interpretations of late Cold War political history and foreign policy. – Zenpundit.com

“[Colodny and Shachtman] tell the story from Nixon to now, and they do it in meticulous and interesting detail.” –Chicago Sun-Times

“A rigorous and critical examination of the neoconservative movement and the bureaucratic, ideological battles over American foreign policy from 1969 to 2009.…[A] captivating chronicle. Highly recommended.” – Library Journal

“A well-reported, fast-paced history lesson on the eternal conflict between ideologues and policymakers and the hubris that always accompanies success.” – Kirkus Reviews

Len Colodny and I were the featured guests at the Washington, D.C., World Affairs Council on January 7, 2010 in a ninety-minute discussion taped by C-Span. First shown on January 31, 2010,it is now available on their website. We are pleased that more than 3,000 people have since looked at excepts of the program on the C-Span Book TV website or downloaded the video.

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