On the Background to Heaven: Old Order Hutterites, Mennonites, Amish and Brethren. By Donald B. Kraybill and Carl F. Bowman. Johns Hopkins University Press, 362 pp., $29.95.

I've always been a bit taken aback when, upon learning that I'm a Quaker, a new acquaintance asks, "So do you still ride in a horse and buggy?" I guess that plainly dressed man on the Quaker Oats box confuses people. Since I've spent so much time explaining the difference between Quakers and the Amish, and am a student of American religious history, I was sure that I knew the differences. But just how little I really did know became apparent when I read Donald Kraybill and Carl Bowman's new book. While far from light reading, this look at the history, similarities and differences between four groups of Old Order faithful in North America--Hutterites, Mennonites, Amish and Brethren--is fascinating.


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