I have many books on the Amish, but this volume is the keystone of the collection. Nothing will advance your understanding of the Amish more than reading this book - nothing. Written by a college professor born into an Old-Order Amish community (the most conservative), the author doesn't just describe the Amish and how they live, but explains why they live as they do and how they think and make decisions about modern life and technology. Along the way he destroys the notion that the Amish are rooted in the past. In fact, they are firmly in the here and now - but deliberately disconnected from the non-Amish world. They use power, motors, machinery, electronics and computers, modern transportation, and more, but in ways that ensure separation.
Amish Society gives perspective on how the Amish developed from their Anabaptist roots and where they fit in the modern Anabaptist spectrum. He describes how individuals and families move from one "level" to another and why. The fine distinctions among Amish communities are fascinating. The author gives an example, using Mifflin County, PA, showing 13 levels of Amish and Anabaptist "committment" (for lack of a better word). Starting at the center with the Old Order Amish, it proceeds to Old School, Byler Church, Peachey Amish, New Amish, Beachy Amish, Beth-El Mennonite, Holdeman Mennonite, Allensville Mennonite, Locust Grove Mennonite, Bretheren in Christ, Maple Grove Mennonite, and finally Protestant. All are instantly distinguishable to an Amish person by things as subtle as the width of a hat brim.
The most unfamiliar content for anyone not familiar with Amish life will be on religious ceremony and practice. Topics such as meetings, hymn singing (absolutely unique), sermons, choosing clergy, weddings, funeral practices, and so on are described in detail you won't find anywhere else.
On the personal end, the author describes the kinds of things that an Amish person thinks about, worries about, gives comfort or threatens, and how they view the outside world. In fact, this book is as much a look at the Amish from within as it is an examination of them from without.
Again, the best single volume on the Amish by a long shot. Very highly recommended.