The dis-oriented author grew up near Amish country. I don’t really know any Amish people but I have seen their wagons on the road and their farms. I was in my local library browsing the new non-fiction books, when I came across Chris Burkholder’s Amish Confidential.
Amish Confidential is Burkholder’s autobiographical narrative describing his childhood in an old order Amish community. Over time Burkholder pulls further and further away from the Amish and his father, a powerful Amish Bishop.
I found this to be a deeply disturbing book.
On October 2nd, I watched in horror along with the rest of the nation as details unfolded in the schoolhouse shooting of ten Amish girls in Pennsylvania. I also watched as the Amish extended forgiveness and compassion to the family of Charles Roberts, the shooter. Like most Americans, I have always had an idyllic view of the Amish. I have viewed them as quaint and anachronistic, a throwback to an earlier time. I have admired Amish craftsmanship in woodworking and quilts.
Burkholder’s book shattered all of this. Burkholder paints a sordid tale of child abuse, incest and bestiality. He describes animal cruelty and abuse including wanton killing of innocent animals. I would have written off Burkholder as simply an isolated malcontent had I not also seen a recent 20/20 segment on the dark side of the Amish community. Having no personal contact with the Amish, I have no idea which view of Amish life is correct. I suspect that as usual the truth is somewhere in the middle.
As for the book, Burkholder is not a polished writer. The book is difficult to read not just because of the content but because of Burkholder’s rambling style. Even the narrative is unsatisfying, the book jacket says that Burkholder is married, owns a construction company and has a family — the story ends when Burkholder leaves the Amish community and does not begin to discuss his transition to the world of the English (the Amish refer to outsiders as English).
After reading this book I have no idea what the truth is.
|Amish Confidential gets 2 of 5 dis-oriented smileys|
Purchase Amish Confidential from Amazon.com.