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Plain Secrets by Joe Mackall

Plain Secrets

Best Seller
Plain Secrets by Joe Mackall
Paperback $20.00
Jun 01, 2008 | ISBN 9780807010655

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  • Jun 01, 2008 | ISBN 9780807010655

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  • May 15, 2007 | ISBN 9780807010617

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Prose as graceful as it is unsentimental . . . Mackall doesn’t sensationalize, romanticize, or condescend. —Brigid Brett, Los Angeles Times

“Mackall does the job beautifully, painting an intimate portrait of the family that leaves the reader feeling humbled by the common thread that’s woven into all of us.” —Sarah English, Cleveland Magazine

“Wonderful and enlightening . . . a loving portrait, warts and all, of an often misunderstood people.”—Booklist, starred review

“An engaging personal memoir . . . neither an exposé nor an outsider’s fanciful romanticization of the Amish. By focusing on the loves and losses of one large Amish clan, Mackall breathes life into a complex group often idealized or caricatured.”—Publishers Weekly

“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

Plain Secrets is a moving exploration of a little-known world and friendship across a cultural divide.”—Boston GlobeOff the Shelf column

“Mackall explores this paradox with rare honesty and insight . . . Another strength of the book is that while maintaining a personal narrative voice, Mackall folds in a succinct and engaging history of the Anabaptist religious tradition and the polity of the Amish church. This added context greatly enhances the more personal stories.”—Boston Globe

“Mackall’s writing is an honest and refreshing change from the customary saccharin scribbling about the Noble Amish Man. Despite, or perhaps because of, Mackall’s refusal to perch the Amish on a pedestal, he manages to convey a deep respect for the people.”—Lancaster New Era

“Mackall describes the details of family, farming and church life with sympathy, accuracy and good will… His particularistic description of one family is a welcome addition to what had often been a sociological literature.” —Christian Century

“. . . he writes with a forthright precision.”—Akron Beacon Journal

“The book points to a difficult truth: A religious community is bound to be freed. Mackall explores this paradox with rare honesty and insight . . . [and] achieves what he promises.”—Tom Montgomery-Fate, Boston Globe

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