Fields of Peace: A Pennsylvania German Album

George Tice, Photographer, Millen Brand, Adapted by, Sue Bender, Adapted by David R. Godine Publisher $45 (180p) ISBN 978-1-56792-076-5
A welcome, dramatically updated reissue of a classic photo-essay originally published in 1970, this portrait of the Amish and Mennonite Pennsylvania German communities is a treasure for lovers of photography and Americana. In a new afterword describing his 1990 return trip to the region, Tice notes that he found the simplicity-loving way of life of these self-reliant folk still largely intact. This revised edition features 39 new photographs and a duotone format that adds warmth and intimacy to the wonderfully evocative pictures, inviting one to linger over such scenes as a horse and buggy silhouetted against open sky, an auction, a prayer meeting, kids with wide-brimmed hats playing in the snow, sheep enveloped in fog and pristine farmhouses. Tice's spare, quiet, yet stunning photos capture an underlying sense of order and purpose. Novelist/screenwriter Brand, who died in 1980, was on intimate terms with the Pennsylvania Germans (often mistakenly called ""Pennsylvania Dutch""). His perceptive text examines their deeply ingrained customs: independent small farming (in some areas, tobacco is the cash crop); aversion to government and secretive courtships; and evening get-togethers for singing and storytelling. Brand records uninhibited conversations with a foundry worker, a beekeeper, a horse trader, an international medical volunteer. The whole album exudes an inner radiance, managing to transcend idyllic sentimentality to become a sociological document. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/30/1998
Release date: 12/01/1998
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