Joe Mackall’s Plain Secrets

Joe mackalls plain secretsThanks to Gina for pointing out a link to an NPR piece on a new book, Plain Secrets, on the Swartzentruber Amish.  I have not read the full book yet but did read the excerpt on the site.  It seems pretty good.

Mackall brings up the Amish position against formal insurance.

It reminded me of a recent chat I had with an Amish friend (Old Order, not Swartzentruber) in Holmes County.

‘No, I don’t have insurance, but I do have assurance–assurance of a God that loves me, assurance that my church will help me out if my shop burns down’.

Assurance not insurance.  Not exactly a novel concept, but perhaps one society has gotten too far away from.

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    1. Natalya (talj)

      Assurance must be a wonderful thing to have, a wonderful thing to KNOW you have! Beats insurance any day I’m sure.

      This looks like an interesting book…but I think I need to start right at the begining! I am only just being introduced to the fascinating Amish world! Many thanks for the wealth of information your blog is giving me!

    2. Bruce B-T

      Hi, just wanted to stop by and say that I really enjoy your site (great photos!), especilly the last few postings. This week I read Joe Mackall’s book (got it on the 17th as a birthday gift and finished it on the 19th – I wish it was longer!). Last week I unloaded my 500 bales of hay (complete with scratches). And the week before I went to the E-town Amish conference – it was great to hear the speakers and visit with other plain people during meals. Keep up the good work and have a great summer!

    3. Thanks Bruce and Natalya!

    4. Roni

      I am currently reading Joe Mackall’s book. Also on my list of books to read is “FORGIVENESS A Legacy of the West Nickel Mines Amish School” by John L. Ruth. * Bruce, I was at the E-town Conference too. I was fortunate enough to get on one of the tours on Thursday too. Leave another comment here if you’d like to chat about the conference.

    5. Roni give us a review of the Mackall book if you get a chance when you’re done. Kraybill apparently also has a Nickel Mines book coming out as well.

    6. Roni

      Yes, the name of the book is “AMISH GRACE – How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy”. It will be availabe this fall.

    7. Hey Erik-
      I’m currently having an “it’s a small world” moment…
      I purchased Joe Mackall’s book.
      It arrived today. I opened the about the author. He teaches at Ashland University, my alma mater, and it turns out the book is about Ashland County Schwartzentruber Amish.
      Small world, eh?

    8. Bruce B-T

      Hi, Roni. If you get a chance, drop me an e-mail about your experience/impression of the conference (my e-mail address is in the back of the 3 ring notebook).
      Bruce B-T

    9. Vikki Horan

      I did just finish Plain Secrets and thoroughly enjoyed it. Finally a book that took the romance out of the Amish life but still showed utmost respect for their way of life. How courageous for Joe Mackall, author/professor/neighbor, to write it and for Mr. Shetler, family father,farmer, and minister for allowing it to be published. I would recommend this book to anyone that wants to really learn about the Amish.

    10. That is cool Melissa. That’s your neck of the woods. This sounds like a neat book.

      I am looking forward to that one. Right now I am experiencing the Lancaster Amish world. Just been a few days, but it’s definitely a bit different than the midwest.

    11. Helen Parnell-Berry

      Seems a bit late to be posting a comment. But seeing as I only discovered this site yesterday I’m about a year behind everyone else. I’m about to order Plain Secrets from Amazon UK. Another book to add to my growing collection.
      By the way, Erik, this site is so good. But I already told you that.

    12. Guillaume de Paysac

      A very moving book

      Hi from Limousin (south-west of France).

      I have been following your wonderful website for months. Thanks to you and Amazon, I read Amish Paradox, Amish Society and I’ve just finished Plain Secrets.

      I liked it very much. As near as possible than an insider look.

      Best wishes for 2012

      1. Hi Guillaume, thanks for commenting, we love hearing from foreign readers. And sounds like you have been reading some good books. I’ve been wanting to ask Mr. Mackall about a possible interview on his book, even though it’s been a few years here. Who knows, maybe we’ll be able to do that sometime.

        1. Guillaume de Paysac


          An interview would be very nice!

          I think many readers would love to hear more about the Swartzenrubber neighbours of Joe McKall.

          Une tres bonne annee a vous !

    13. b knapman

      i just finished “plain secrets” and am very happy i read it. i would recommend this book to anyone wanting a well-rounded English perspective on a part of Amish culture.