new Mennonite Life logo    March 2003     vol. 58 no. 1     Back to Table of Contents

Book Reviews

Arthur G. Gish, Hebron Journal: Stories of Nonviolent Peacemaking. Scottdale: Herald Press, 2001. Pp. 301. ($17.99-paperback) ISBN 0-8361-9168-4 Reviewed by Julie Hart.

Ann Hostetler, Empty Room with Light. Telford, Penn.: DreamSeeker Books, 2002. Pp. 100. ($12.05 - paperback) ISBN 1-931038-10-4 Reviewed by Raylene Hinz-Penner.

June Alliman Yoder, ed., The Work Is Thine, O Christ: In Honor of Erland Waltner. Elkhart, IN: Institute of Mennonite Studies, 2002. Pp. 148. ISBN 0-936273-33-X Reviewed by Marlin Jeschke.

James O. Lehman, Mennonite Tent Revivals: Howard Hammer and Myron Augsburger, 1952-1962. Kitchener, Ont.: Pandora Press, 2002. Pp. 318. ($27.00 - paperback) ISBN I-894710-22-3 Reviewed by Theron F. Schlabach.

Lawrence Klippenstein and Jacob Dick, Mennonite Alternative Service in Russia: The Story of Abram Dück and His Colleagues, 1911-1917. Kitchener: Pandora Press; Scottdale: Herald Press, 2002. Pp. 163 ($17- paperback) ISBN 1-894710-21-5 Reviewed by James Urry.

Arthur G. Gish, Hebron Journal: Stories of Nonviolent Peacemaking. Scottdale: Herald Press, 2001. Pp. 301. ($17.99-paperback) ISBN 0-8361-9168-4

The genre of the personal journal often means stream of consciousness thinking, unadorned observations, and raw emotions. This is exactly what you get with Art Gish's Hebron Journal. He writes almost daily of his month-long experiences between 1995 and 2001 in the West Bank town of Hebron. The demographics hint of the situation there with 130,000 Arab Palestinians surrounding 500 Jewish settlers who are protected by 1,200 Israeli soldiers.

The work of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), Art's sponsoring organization, began full-time in Hebron in 1995. The CPT office is in the heart of the Israeli-controlled area between three Jewish settlements, the Israeli military camp, and in the midst of the Palestinian food market. CPT was invited there by the Hebron mayor as a nonviolent international force to help de-escalate conflict between Jews and Arabs.

Hebron serves as a microcosm of the larger Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It is the only town where Jews and Arabs live side by side and worship in the same building. This building, called the Cave of the Patriarchs by the Jews (Abraham and Sara, Isaac and Rebecca are buried there) and the Ibrahimi Mosque by the Moslems, was divided by the Israeli occupation forces in 1994. This permits Jews to worship in one half while Moslems worship in the other half. Because of their understanding of the Old Testament, many Jewish settlers feel that God has granted them this land and that their job is to take it back from the Palestinian residents. The problem arises as the Palestinians often hold deeds of ownership from the late Ottoman period.

Art's journal offers a rich, inside view of the day-to-day work, experiences, joys, and sorrows of Christian Peacemaker Team members. The reader quickly realizes that the CPT work is often spontaneous, dangerous, and driven by perceptions of injustice. Until 1997, the team provided primarily a street patrol or as Art describes it the "grandparent effect." With CPT members patrolling the streets, none of the residents were as likely to do violent things to those they disliked. With additional international observers on the streets, CPT now focuses more on halting home demolitions and land confiscations.

Art's particular approach to the situation is quite assertive. He sincerely wants to listen to and talk with persons on all sides of the conflict. We see him regularly engaging Israeli soldiers as they are arresting and mistreating Palestinians. He often attempts to talk with the very Jewish settlers who have just spat on him and threatened to kill him. Art doesn't allow his limited Arabic to prevent him from living with Palestinian families whose homes are threatened with demolition from the Israeli military occupation forces. He demonstrates an inspiring courage based in his faith and understanding of the gospel.

We are also given an insider's view of the role of faith and worship among CPT members. Art speaks of daily worship and even walking a couple of miles from his home-stays in the rural countryside in order to worship in Hebron with the team. It is obvious that the team members draw a great deal of strength from time together in prayer and worship as well as from regular team meetings. We are able to see the sometimes difficult process of dialogue and discernment involved in reaching consensus on major issues such as the direction of the team. "Should we become involved in this demonstration? How shall we respond to the escalation in Palestinian land confiscation and home demolitions?" While I have resisted the term "experiments in truth" as a CPT member myself, it is clear that the work of the Hebron team is experimental. The good news is that the rotating teams take time to discuss and evaluate actions so that there is some learning from each new "experiment in truth."

The reader may be surprised by Art's radical statements about guns, cars, electricity, and the capitalist mentality. In addition, the reader is left wanting more analysis of why the team is doing what they are doing or how exactly things worked or did not work. Art's views on the Oslo Accords stray from his usual attempt at balance and objectivity. Near the end he raises but fails to respond to a very important question: has CPT failed to articulate a vision of nonviolent change that could reach both Jews and Palestinians?

One amazing aspect of Art's writing is his raw honesty. He rarely adorns or softens his feelings of anger, joy, fear, or anguish. Rather, in it all, Art maintains his faith and his center in God. This is a tremendous feat in and of itself when one regularly experiences taunting, hate, and death threats while accompanying Palestinians in the anguish of detentions, beatings, and losing their home or land. Neither anger nor anguish appear to overcome him.

The reader is offered an excellent account of the level of networking that is a part of CPT decision-making and action. They wisely draw on Jewish, Palestinian, and Christian friends from Israel and the West Bank. These include Rabbis for Human Rights; the Christian Palestinian group, Sabeel; Mennonite Central Committee; World Vision; the Palestinian Land Defense Committee; Palestinian families involved in the US and Canadian partnership program; and the Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions. It is clear that CPT work is not conducted in a vacuum and seeks to test consequences among diverse groups prior to implementing major actions.

Art also shows an incredible balance in his perspectives and actions. Whomever it is, he is ready to talk, listen, play ball, or look for the bright side of the situation. This includes showing empathy for the often radical and scared Jewish community in Hebron. Art shows respect for both the Israeli soldiers who either hate being stationed there or are anxious to make life miserable for the Palestinians. He appears equally open to Palestinians, some of whom are ready to kill the Jews and others who desire to live in peace. Art doesn't hesitate to call actions "evil" though (such as the Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes) but continues to look for "that of God in each one."

Perhaps he draws his strength from his experiences during the Civil Rights movement in the US. Or perhaps his perseverance stems from his spiritual disciplines of fasting, Bible study, and prayer. It may have something to do with his observation that "most of our (CPT) actions have been gifts." These include the times the team helped remove the Israeli military-constructed barriers within the Palestinian market, the opening of Hebron University after months of closure, the Tents for Lent Campaign, and sitting on the roof of a home threatened with demolition. Another hint of his strength surfaces in his statement, after "having given up the fear (of being marginalized), I discovered a tremendous freedom to speak the truth and do what needs to be done." Whatever it is, the reader is left in awe that he can maintain hope and energy in such a demanding environment.

For the person who seeks to understand the on-the-ground workings of CPT and the motivations of its workers, this is an excellent resource. For those who wish to investigate the various types of peacemaker work, this is also an excellent resource. And for those who simply wish to be inspired in their faith journey, Art's Hebron Journal offers a rare insider view of faith at work in difficult and sometimes life-threatening situations.

Julie Hart
Associate Professor of Sociology and Peace Studies
Bethel College
On sabbatical with MCC Guatemala

Ann Hostetler, Empty Room with Light. Telford, Penn.: DreamSeeker Books, 2002. Pp. 100. ($12.05 - paperback) ISBN 1-931038-10-4

Ann Hostetler's first collection of poems is divided into five sections: Book I- Impressions; II- Family Gallery; III-Life Studies; IV-Exhibitions; V-En Plein Air. Throughout, it is Hostetler's method to handle the things of the world, to pick them up and notice them, the things which help us to know we live in this world. Her poetic line is rapid, almost breathless, never scripted or overworked. There is a freshness for the reader in what gets notice; there is a vantage point that beckons. There is a racing mind in a busy world. The poems are based in the "real"-the seeing eye turning on itself frequently, recognizing personal limitations, oftentimes self-deprecatory, at times piqued by the guilt of recognition in a life which swarms. Frequently, the poetic voice is simply not up to it, and admits that life is too much with her.

The collection is rich with poems of memory, as are most first collections. Here, poems of memory are turned on Amish ancestors, lyric moments of mother and father-love, poems which honor forgotten female ancestors, clearly a special concern for Hostetler. Especially in the first book, "Impressions," there are childhood and coming-of-age references; in "Easter Coat," the poet's mother celebrates her becoming a woman with the making of a coat from the softest wool ever, in silvery olive, peach and ivory plaid, the sophisticated colors of womanhood. But it is a place the young woman cannot yet inhabit, standing in line in school in her dotted-swiss hand-me-down, longing for spring. That is the consistent voice of these poems: intense longing, often for the ethereal, for escape. One beautiful moment of escape occurs in one of my favorite poems, "Marriage, with Children," which closes with a beautiful image of husband steeling weary wife: "I close my eyes, feel our marriage falling/like a loose, baggy net about us. Then your thumbs press/against my spine./ I ease into your touch,/a moment's elasticity./As your fingers work the muscles/of my back, our life draws taut again,/a web hung rich with glittering complexity,/unimagined in our youthful love."

Most of the poems in this book are glimpses, defining moments of clarification in the hubbub of a professional woman's juggling of family life and professional calling, and they are rife with that tension. Frequently, they are also rife with the self-accusations that know of a different way women once lived (Amish ancestors, quieter women). But they are clear-eyed, aware of the choices made by a contemporary woman, an intellectual, an artist, a writer. And they also document the rewards. Because of the breathless pace of the poems, and because there is so much of the "stuff of life," in this collection, I felt greatly relieved and grateful for some of the quiet poems, the introspective poems with spare line and reference, like "Insomnia" in which the writer's voice reveals "an empty space, a square/of light or air, thin air,/into which for years/I've feared to fall." A stark, compelling image follows: "I am a chocolate rabbit,/ a ceramic doll like the one I chose for my seventh/birthday, her limbs held to her fragile body/ by elastic strings crisscrossed through her vacant core." This powerful image of "woman used up"--the woman who has nothing more to give, is familiar but fresh. I long for more of these kinds of images in Hostetler's poems.

This first collection documents, catalogues, chronicles. In the end, the best poems turn to image. I have a feeling subsequent collections will haunt with images like the poignant one that closes the book in "Journey," again, an image of disappearance, but here through lovemaking, and disappearance from the "world too much with us" into a nothingness that can explore or become: "You walk through me over/and over as I journey through you/to familiar landscapes/I have never seen before."

Raylene Hinz-Penner
Topeka, Kansas

June Alliman Yoder, ed., The Work Is Thine, O Christ: In Honor of Erland Waltner. Elkhart, IN: Institute of Mennonite Studies, 2002. Pp. 148. ISBN 0-936273-33-X

It is fitting that the Institute of Mennonite Studies at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary last year (2002) published a tribute to Erland Waltner. Perhaps slightly awkwardly entitled The Work is Thine, O Christ: In Honor of Erland Waltner, the book is edited by associate professor of communication and preaching June Alliman Yoder, and contains three main parts: Erland Waltner: His Life, His Work, His Influence. This volume is enhanced by about ten pages of photographs.

In the first section, Bethel College professor of history James Juhnke sketches Waltner's early years from his youth on a farm near Freeman, South Dakota, through his college and graduate education, early pastorates, and teaching at Bethel College from 1949 until his appointment as president of Mennonite Biblical Seminary in 1957.

In a second chapter of this first section, C. J. Dyck, professor emeritus of Anabaptist-Mennonite studies at AMBS, takes up the story of Waltner's 21 years of the presidency of MBS until his retirement in 1978. He explains the circumstances of the seminary's relocation from Chicago to Elkhart in 1957, when the seminary exchanged its association with the Church of the Brethren seminary in Chicago for an association with Goshen Biblical Seminary. Dyck also touches upon Waltner's handling of the student turbulence of the late '60s and early '70s and chronicles the administrative transitions from two cooperating seminaries to one integrated theological school.

Ross Bender, former dean of AMBS and former president of Mennonite World Conference, reports Waltner's involvement in that Mennonite world body, beginning with an address Waltner gave to MWC in 1948 and continuing through Waltner's ten-year presidency of MWC from Kitchener, Ontario, in 1962 to Curitiba, Brazil, in 1972.

In a fourth chapter, retired Goshen physician Willard Krabill recognizes Erland Waltner's contribution as Executive Secretary of the Mennonite Medical Association from 1979 to 1992, after Waltner's retirement from the presidency of MBS.

In the last chapter on Waltner: His Life, Nina Bartelt Lanctot, associate minister of Belmont Mennonite Church in Elkhart, expresses appreciation for Waltner's work as a spiritual counselor in nonpublic settings, mostly since his retirement. Living just across Benham Avenue from the seminary, Waltner continues to keep an office at the seminary and continues his interest and support of the cause of ministerial education and church life to which he has given so many years.

The second section of this book, Waltner: His Work, consists of 11 selections from Waltner's pen, beginning with a sermon he preached as pastor of Bethel Mennonite Church, Mountain Lake, Minnesota, right after Pearl Harbor in 1941. This section also includes Waltner's inaugural address as president of MBS in 1958, an excerpt from his commentary upon First Peter in the Believers Church Commentary series (published in 1999), and several 2001 columns in the Mennonite Health Journal. Waltner himself likely chose these selections, I would guess.

One is surprised at the long gap between the inaugural address of 1958 and a paper at a Notre Dame workshop on Pastoral Care in 1985, seven years after Waltner's retirement. The inaugural address declares an intention to maintain a balance between academics and spirituality. Waltner's vision was for seminary education to produce a graduate who would be both "saint and scholar." Well said. But why no other addresses from the rest of this era of Waltner's presidency of MBS, the height of his career? These years are the middle third of a sixty-year career as pastor, teacher, and administrator.

The third section of this book is headed Waltner: His Influence. But it reflects that influence only in a most indirect fashion, because the ten chapters in this section are almost all sermons by different people from various times and places. In this respect they resemble the content of the typical Festschrift, in which selected scholars "do their own thing," each producing a short monograph on one of his or her own areas of interest.

The choice of contributors to this section is not especially clear or logical. The writers are all fine people, and one would expect pieces from AMBS faculty and administrators who know Waltner and whose bylines appear here: Jake Elias, Janeen Bertsche Johnson, and June Alliman Yoder. One is also not surprised to see sermons from James Schrag, Mesach Krisetya, current president of Mennonite World Conference, Peter Dyck, and Rose Waltner Graber, Erland's daughter.

But why no other representatives of the AMBS faculty who have had a long association with Waltner? Granted, many of them are deceased: Howard Charles, Jake Enz, Marlin Miller, Gertrude Roten. Yet I would have expected something from Leland Harder or Millard Lind or Willard Swartley. And why not tributes to Waltner? Coming to the Rose Waltner Graber contribution, the last piece in section 3, I was at last expecting something from his daughter about Erland Waltner the father and family man, something more personal than another sermon.

Erland Waltner himself is given the privilege of an epilogue, and his comments there explain the title of the book. For many years he has loved the hymn "The Work is Thine, O Christ." The ideals articulated in that hymn have guided Waltner and reassured him in times when he encountered pressures and conflicts in his administrative work. That is no doubt the reason he gained the confidence of people who were willing to entrust him with the tasks of pastor, college teacher, conference moderator, seminary president, Mennonite World Conference President, and Mennonite Medical Association Executive Secretary. His contribution of over sixty years to the Mennonite church merits our profound thanks.

Marlin Jeschke

James O. Lehman, Mennonite Tent Revivals: Howard Hammer and Myron Augsburger, 1952-1962. Kitchener, Ont.: Pandora Press, 2002. Pp. 318. ($27.00 - paperback) ISBN I-894710-22-3

In the early 1980s several of us Mennonite scholars found ourselves quite at odds with erstwhile tent revivalist George Brunk II; so we met personally with him to try some reconciliation. As we did, we all told how that one way or another we too had been part of the Brunk tent campaigns. My story was that after a massive campaign at Goshen, Indiana in 1952, when I was an eighteen-year-old truck driver whose chauffeur's license was scarcely dry, I had driven a local supporter's truck from Goshen, Indiana to Harrisonburg, Virginia to haul some of the chairs and canvas that overflowed from the Brunk Brothers' trailers. Had the story been relevant, I could also have told him that three years later an organization called "Christian Laymen's Tent Evangelism, Inc." (CLTE) had brought Myron Augsburger and a tent to Goshen-and that I had climbed up onto CLTE's GMC semi-tractor to look at the impressively large generator installed in place of the passenger seat to power the tent's lights and equipment. Someone of the CLTE staff had explained just how the generator was connected to the tractor's drive line. (From reading Lehman's book, I suppose the explainer was Paul Neuenschwander.)

Our point with Brother Brunk was how deeply the mass tent revivals had affected us personally. A great many Mennonites, Amish, and others who were at least eight years old in 1950 could give the same testimony. Although North American Mennonites' intense affair with tent revivals heated up and cooled rapidly in the 1950s and 1960s, it certainly was historic. We need more literature on it, both factual and analytical. James Lehman's book is about campaigns sponsored by CLTE, in 1958 renamed more broadly the "Christian Laymen's Evangelistic Association" (CLEA). The public faces of the CLTE/CLEA campaigns were mainly two gifted preachers, Howard Hammer and Myron Augsburger. From Lehman's account, certain lay leaders in eastern Ohio who formed and ran CLTE, CLEA, and their logistics seem almost as crucial.

For the CLTE/CLEA campaigns, whose years were 1952 to 1962, Lehman has at least given us the facts. Up to now Lehman's forte has been a species of local history, namely very thorough congregational histories; and although his tent-revival story moves back and forth across North America, as far west as Salem, Oregon and as far east as Quakertown, Pennsylvania, much in this history is still local. Very often, and at some length, the book focuses on the workings of the CLTE/CLEA organization and the people who ran it. Even more, Lehman delivered large parts of his account locality-by-locality, campaign-by-campaign (usually about five campaigns each summer). As he did, he recorded in great detail just who was doing what-marshaling support, raising the tent, leading the singing, and the rest. Sometimes the details get tedious, especially when the book moves through CLTE or CLEA board meetings almost report by report, official minute by official minute. Other details become quite dramatic-for instance, those times when summer windstorms flattened tents at just the wrong moments or, for that matter, the impressive numbers of persons who made public promises to follow Christ, either as first decisions or as recommitments. Surely the local-history approach has much merit. Many readers will connect, the way I have, by recalling their own involvements in this or that campaign. All will appreciate that Lehman has done what is most basic: careful research, and delivery of solid facts. He has written real history, not something pompous and "too clever by half."

At key points Lehman did interrupt his flow of details to deal with wider issues. His account acquaints readers well with Howard Hammer and Myron Augsburger. In the case of Hammer and his family Lehman even stopped the tent-evangelism story long enough to follow them, after their time with CLTE, to free-lance mission work in Brazil. The Hammers' story was full of tragedy, and was so even before the evangelist-turned-missionary died violently in South America. (Lehman leaves open the possibility that Hammer's death, which occurred along with that of a young woman, was a case of murders by a third party rather than murder-suicide as commonly supposed.) Just as the last CLTE campaign of 1953 closed, a high-school-age son of the Hammers died. Thereafter the gifted, winsome, and successful evangelist seemed to lose interest and confidence in what he was doing. And as if larger forces really were against him, the next year, during the final campaign of his time as a tent revivalist, near-hurricane-strength winds hit Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, took the tent down, and all but destroyed it. By contrast the story of Myron Augsburger is full of good fortune: even greater gifts, growing wisdom, broadening vision, widening opportunities, and ample appreciation from both Mennonites and others. For some readers, however, the true hero may be Paul Neuenschwander. A Kidron, Ohio electrician who was only about 31 when CLTE started, he seems always, at least in the formative years, to have supervised the tent-raisings, wired up the lights, made the public address systems work, taken the photos that effectively captured the mass attendance, and kept the trucks running. Eventually Neuenschwander turned day-to-day operations over to others, yet he still seems to have been there whenever a practical problem left everyone else stumped. Can the Kingdom of Heaven ever come without such folks?

Broad issues do emerge. A whole chapter plus some smaller sections interrupt the campaign story to recount at least a little of the MC Mennonites' growing discussion of the deeper issues. Revivalism or evangelism? (I.e., preach to invigorate the faith of Mennonites themselves, or mainly to win others?) Mennonite-run campaigns, or broader, interdenominational ones? Tents pitched on Mennonite fields, or urban auditoriums? Even as he recounted details, Lehman wove in some larger themes. For instance, he developed a point that Augsburger brought a new professionalism to the tent-revival movement. And he told how the same evangelist shifted gradually from the original Mennonite pattern to campaigns that were interdenominational and community- or city-wide, much more on the Billy Graham model.

Sometimes Lehman addressed key questions which he could scarcely begin to answer. For instance, he made some attempt to discuss how the movement's rapid rise and fall may have related to changes in America's culture, its media, and its wave of religiosity in the 1950s; but he hardly more than introduced such issues. The same is true of Mennonites' headlong immersion into that culture. As for the sharpest complaints that critics have made against the revivalists, such as their manipulating people in ways that have victimized children or the spiritually and psychologically insecure, Lehman sometimes alluded to such charges but he scarcely went farther. He did, however, give the strong impression that neither the Hammer nor the Augsburger campaigns operated so crudely. The standard stereotype of tent revivals hardly includes the singing of Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus"; but that did happen at least once, in 1961, on the final night of a campaign at St. Catherine, Ontario!

Pandora Press should have demanded or produced a far better index: inclusions are erratic, and many entries have long strings of numbers without the sub-entries and cross-references that make an index so much more useful. (Apparently computer-generation is the bane of good indexing.) The book's editing has the occasional lapse. Too many of the photos are grainy, even though they do greatly enhance the text. Yet overall the layout, editing, and production are acceptably competent. And one certainly must applaud the attempt to make this book available at about the price of dinner for two at a decent but moderate restaurant. Once again, James O. Lehman has given us a very informative and worthwhile book.

Theron F. Schlabach
Professor of History
Goshen College

Lawrence Klippenstein and Jacob Dick, Mennonite Alternative Service in Russia: The Story of Abram Dück and His Colleagues, 1911-1917. Kitchener: Pandora Press; Scottdale: Herald Press, 2002. Pp. 163 ($17- paperback) ISBN 1-894710-21-5

This small book has a complex structure. At its center is a series of photographs of Mennonites serving in the Forestry and related units before World War One and later on the hospital trains during the War, especially on the Turkish front in Central Asia. These come mainly from the collection of Abram Dück, the father of the co-author Jacob Dick, and his friends and relatives. The photographs are connected to the memoirs of one of the group, Johann Mathies, who served both in the Forestry Service and on the trains with Abram Dück. Jacob Dick links his account with a narrative of his own and supplies an epilogue concerned with his own journey to Georgia in 2002 where he searched out and discovered some of the sites in the photographs. Finally the book is properly contextualized with an introductory essay on "Mennonites and Military Service in Russia" written by Lawrence Klippenstein who wrote his PhD thesis on alternative service in Russia and the Soviet Union and is a recognized expert on this subject.

Although complex, the book is easy to read and provides a fascinating insight into the different forms of Mennonite alternative service. Klippenstein's introduction sets the scene well. Dick then takes the reader from the pre-war forest camp at Azov and on into war service in European Russia and then on the Asian front. Details of camp life are linked to the photographs depicting the working conditions, camp life, initiation rituals for recruits, and music groups, picnics etc.. Mathies's account, obviously written long after the events he describes (although Dick mentions a diary), has a certain charm in itself. It is somewhat typical of many such accounts with its sudden jumps from topic to topic and reflective asides all delivered in a matter-of-fact manner. Many interesting points are not developed or clarified although the authors have included a set of useful maps that assist in tracking the movements of Dück and Mathies.

The photographs, a mixture of personal snaps of individuals, groups, work units, and postcards of places, are reasonably well reproduced given the format and price of the book. But they are dark and lack the detail and clarity that perhaps they deserve. And while the interesting reverse comments on many of the pictures are included, there is little consideration of the style and purpose of the photographs. While many are of groups involved in work-somewhat artificially posed no doubt to cope with the speed of the camera lens-others are more formal. These include groups no doubt on high days and holidays posing together, including a brass band complete with special uniforms. Others consist of studio shots with groups or individuals sitting or standing in front of improbable landscape backcloths occasionally leaning on chairs or oddly decorated plinths. A series of studio shots show individuals squashed in a fake rock cavern complete with stalactites!

What was the purpose of such photography? And what part did it play in Mennonite life? From the surviving comments on the reverse of some, the pictures were obviously intended for friends and relatives back home in the Mennonite settlements. Others were taken by men serving in the same units, most likely at a time when they were due to return home or join another unit, and presented as gifts for each other. The comments on the reverse indicate these are gifts from friends and greetings are accompanied by the home address of the gift-giver.

The photographs also reveal the militarization of Mennonite men, irrespective of the fact that they were serving in "alternative" units outside military control. This process began in the camps with the uniforms, drill, and discipline but the photographs hint that this tendency increased once the men volunteered for hospital service. The uniforms then become more militaristic and more importantly are worn with more dash than in the camps. Not only were Mennonites now beyond the remote world of the forestry camps, but during the war most young men wore military uniforms, indicating they were serving their motherland. Of particular interest is the sporting of moustaches-full and handsome with the occasional upward twist at the ends. In fact, so many of the men are dressed in identical uniforms and sport the same style of moustache that in some pictures they look almost identical. Uniformity has taken over in more than just dress!

Yet there are indications that Mennonites attempted to remain separate from the militarization of society, even during the war. Their epaulettes carried crosses as did their hat insignia, clearly indicating their hospital roles and connection with civil, not military, units. And Mathies records an interesting episode when an elderly general takes control of a train and begins to treat the men like army recruits, ordering that they cut their hair short and observe military discipline. Some Mennonites resist and are arrested. Mathies records that after the intervention of a nursing sister of noble descent the general revokes his orders and apologizes once he realizes that the Mennonite orderlies are "intelligent people." This reveals a great deal about military life, the attitudes of officers to peasant soldiers, and the anomalous place of Mennonites in Russian society.

There are a few inconsistencies and errors. The spelling of place names is inconsistent Khortitza/Chortitza (it should be Khortitsa anyway), Azov/Asov, Ekaterinoslav/Jekaterinoslav (or Jekaterinoslaw? ), Sagradovka (Sagradowka/Zagradovka) etc. The picture on p. 71 dated 1912 is obviously from 1917 and belongs to s series of portraits taken on the same day (see p. 111). Otherwise this is a very interesting addition to the limited literature on alternative service in Russia and raises a number of interesting questions which require further interpretation and analysis.

Dr. James Urry
Anthropology, School of Social & Cultural Studies
Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand