Defense Tech Dad Tom Shachtman spent the better part of the last few years, hanging out with Amish teenagers. Not just any Amish teenagers, mind you. Drinking, smoking, fucking Amish teenagers.You see, when Amish kids turn about 16 or so, their folks send 'em out of the buggy-and-barn world, and into ours. The period is called Rumspringa. And the idea is to let the teens choose for themselves how they want to live their lives. Remarkably, nearly 80 percent come back, and pick the plain path.Dad's book on this time, Rumspringa: To be or Not to Be Amish, has just been published by North Point Press/Farrar Straus & Giroux. It's already getting rave reviews.
"Shachtman is a sensitive and nimble chronicler of Amish teens, devoting ample space to allowing them to tell their stories in their own words. And their stories are fascinating, from the wild ones who engage in weekend-long parties, complete with hard drugs and sexual promiscuity, to the more sedate and pious teens who prefer to engage in careful courtship rituals under the bemused eyes of adult Amish chaperones."-- Publishers Weekly (starred review)"Riveting"-- People Magazine"Writer, novelist, and documentarian Shachtman has created a fascinating and near-unprecedented glimpse into the inner lives of Amish society . . . Sensitively addresses the unique position of the Amish and the challenges they face. Highly recommended."-- Library Journal"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 JournalYou get the idea. So buy your copy, now. If you need a little extra convincing, the old man is going to be on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" this afternoon. Have a listen.