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Book Reviews

The Essence of George Fox's Journals

edited by Hunter Lewis
published by Axios Press, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-60419-053-3
reviewed by Roena Oesting, Fall 2012

I've struggled for years, trying to read the journals of George Fox, founder of the Friends/Quakers. Complex language, repetitious entries, old fashioned spelling, etc. were problems for me. This new little "essence" volume keeps the WORDS, but spells and punctuates in modern English. It eliminates about 2/3 of the text, shortening it to a more readable size. It retains, however, the "ranting" quality of much of Fox's writing. A wonderful book and a way to start to understand this 17th century reformer. I highly recommend this book!


Letters to a Fellow Seeker: A Short Introduction to the Quaker Way

by Steve Chase
ISBN: 978-1-937768-02-7, pages: 98
reviewed by Roena Oesting, Fall 2012

Get this book! Read it! It is an excellent outline of Quaker principles and worship, containing 7 imaginary letters to a newcomer to Quaker ways. For example, it contains the most sensitive discussion I've ever read about the relationship between Quakers and Christians. It includes the Advices and Queries sections from New England Yearly Meeting, which are remarkably similar to ours—yet with some fascinating differences as well.


Fostering Vital Friends Meetings: A Handbook for Working with Quaker Meetings

by Jan Greene and Marty Walton
ISBN: 1-888305-07-x, pages: 103
reviewed by Roena Oesting, Fall 2012

This little book is designed specifically for people who work for Quaker institutions—both as paid staff and as volunteers. It does, however, have a number of chapters that are of use to anyone wanting to grow our meetings. I especially draw to your attention 3 chapters:

 • Conflict in the Meeting

 • Faltering or Dying Meetings

 • Workshops and Special programs

 • for ideas on how to make our meetings a better place for everyone.


Journey of the Wild Geese: A Quaker Romance in War-Torn Europe

by Madeleine Yaude Stephenson and Edwin “Red” Stephenson
ISBN: 0-96488042-3-9, pages: 316
reviewed by Roena Oesting, Fall 2012

This book is comprised of letters and diary entries written during 1946 and 1947, when many young Quakers (including our own Kerstin Washewsky) went to Europe to begin rebuilding countries that were destroyed during the war years.

Falling in love only added to the emotional impact of the work during a very difficult period. If you like love stories, or if you like stories of hope triumphing over despair, you will love this book!


The Quakers and the American Revolution

by Arthur J. Mekeel
ISBN: 1850721769, pages: 420
reviewed by Roena Oesting, Fall 2012

This book is for the serious "Quaker history geek." It was originally a 1940 Ph.D. thesis that was reworked many years later&emdash;both to update the information and to make it more readable for a non-scholarly audience. All the footnotes and bibliographic info is still there if you want it.

Lots of fascinating details about the inner workings of various Quaker groups in all the colonies and a really nice section on the "Free Quakers"—those who decided that they did need to fight against the British. And did you know that the two ships involved in the Boston Tea Party were both owned by Quakers?

Many "meetings for sufferings" were needed for those who, for example, refused to handle Continental Army currency, or declined to take oaths of allegiance for either side, or refused special war taxes, or were exiled to Virginia (among other places).

No, I didn't read all of this book; it was a bit much even for me. Nevertheless, a great resource and you might find bits great fun.


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