This Very Ground, This Crooked Affair connects the centuries-old history of the author's Pennsylvania Mennonite homestead with that of the land's indigenous Lenape inhabitants, interweaving documented Pennsylvania history with the national pursuit of a Doctrine of Discovery-and the story of Mennonites who had themselves fled suffering and landlessness with the fates of Native Americans continent-wide.
In previous books, such as Maintaining the Right Fellowship: A Narrative Account of Life in the Oldest Mennonite Community in North America (1984) and The Earth is the Lord's: A Narrative History of the Lancaster Conference, Ruth minimally acknowledged the Indigenous people replaced by his ancestors. In contrast, in This Very Ground, This Crooked Affair he has continued to tell about William Penn, other colonists connected with Penn, and Mennonite immigrant settlers-but this time has placed the Lenapes of the Delaware Valley at the center rather than the margins of the story.
"As Kathleen Norris observes, 'The fact that one people's frontier's usually another's homeland is mostly overlooked.' But why should the lament of the displaced be any less of the story's music than the grateful praise of the displacers?" -John L. Ruth, in the Preface