Lust in Translation: The Rules of Infidelity from Tokyo to Tennessee

( 2 )

Overview

An irreverent and hilarious journey around the world to examine how and why people cheat on their spouses; this global look at infidelity reveals that Americans are uniquely mixed up about being faithful.

It's an adulterous world out there. Russian husbands and wives don't believe that beach-resort flings violate their marital vows. Japanese businessmen, armed with the aphorism "If you pay, it's not cheating," flock to sex clubs where the extramarital services on offer include ...

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Overview

An irreverent and hilarious journey around the world to examine how and why people cheat on their spouses; this global look at infidelity reveals that Americans are uniquely mixed up about being faithful.

It's an adulterous world out there. Russian husbands and wives don't believe that beach-resort flings violate their marital vows. Japanese businessmen, armed with the aphorism "If you pay, it's not cheating," flock to sex clubs where the extramarital services on offer include "getting oral sex without showering first." South Africans may be the masters of creative accounting: Pollsters there had to create separate categories for men who cheat, and men who only cheat while drunk.

In America, however, there is never a free pass when it comes to infidelity. According to our national moral compass, cheating is abominable no matter what the circumstances. But do we actually behave differently than everyone else? Pamela Druckerman, a former foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, decided to delve into this incredibly taboo topic. She interviews people all over the world, from retirees in South Florida to Muslim polygamists in Indonesia; from Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn to the men who keep their mistresses in a "concubine village" outside Hong Kong.

Druckerman talks to psychologists, sex researchers, marriage counselors, and most of all, cheaters and the people they've cheated on, and concludes that Americans are the least adept at having affairs, have the most trouble enjoying them, and suffer the most in their aftermath.

Lust in Translation is a voyeuristic, statistics-packed, sometimes shocking, often hysterical, worldwide glimpse into the endlessly intriguing world of extramarital sex. It may be politically incorrect to say so, but who knew infidelity could be this fascinating?

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Editorial Reviews

Janet Maslin
Lust in Translation is divided into geographical regions, each prompting Ms. Druckerman, a former staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal, to a new set of stereotypes and generalizations. Since each chapter breaks down into a string of interviews and anecdotes, the book has no overarching structure or point. But its stories are colorfully told and often entertaining.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Former foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journalnow living in Paris, Druckerman offers an anecdotal rather than a scholarly exploration of the international etiquette of adultery. From American prudishness about the subject to French discretion, and from Russian vehemence about the obligatory affair to Japanese adherence to the single marital futon, one factor rings true in all cases: people lie about sex. Druckerman interviews numerous adulterers, starting with the conflicted Americans who "gain status by radiating an aura of monogamy" while sneaking around on the side; guilt more often than not brings them to confession and absolution by therapy. Druckerman is at pains to uncover reliable statistics about infidelity where such research is suppressed, such as in Islamic countries or those formerly Communist; in contrast, Finland demonstrates the best sex research, e.g., clearly half of men there enjoy "parallel relationships." Druckerman concludes from one study that people in warmer climes cheat more (Scandinavia is the exception), while people in wealthy countries tend to cheat less than those in poor countries (exception: Kazakhstan). Druckerman found that the rules of sexual cultures differ widely: adultery is the least dangerous social evil in Russia, while in Japan, buying sex doesn't count as cheating. Druckerman's work is quirky, digressive and media quotable. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal
Druckerman (former foreign correspondent, Wall Street Journal) explores marital infidelity worldwide. She builds on the concept of sexual cultures—groups with shared ideas about the "rules" (official and unofficial) of sexual behavior, and discovers that expectations regarding fidelity vary widely among the myriad sexual cultures of the world. Research for this work is drawn from interviews with those who have cheated, their spouses, former spouses, and lovers, as well as from personal observations made by Druckerman on her journeys. She visits numerous places, including a Chinese village dedicated to concubinage and a South African town devastated by AIDS. She also interviews, among others, a Russian sex researcher who tells of the post-Soviet sexual revolution and a French medical expert who succinctly illustrates the concept of "sexual cultures" by rejecting Druckerman's use of the term infidelityas too value-laden. Coupling her observations with what little has been gathered in the way of international statistics on the subject, Druckerman provides an intriguing look at attitudes about adultery around the world. Detracting somewhat from the book's evenhandedness is her disproportionate critique of American responses to infidelity, particularly in her conclusion. Recommended for libraries with larger cultural and social studies collections.
—Elizabeth L. Winter
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641918810
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 4/19/2007
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Pamela Druckerman

Pamela Druckerman is a former staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal, where she covered foreign affairs. She has also written for The New York Times and The Washington Post, and appeared on the Today Show and NPR's Morning Edition, among many other outlets. She is the author of the international bestseller, Bringing up Bébé , and Lust in Translation, which was translated into eight languages. She has a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia, and lives in Paris.

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Table of Contents


Introduction: Lust in Translation     1
Welcome to America     11
Lies, Damn Lies, and Adultery     37
Sexual Cultures     65
The Marriage-Industrial Complex     91
Death of the "Five to Seven"     111
The Obligatory Affair     145
Mystery of the Single Futon     169
We Must Have a Spare One at Least     197
God in the Bedroom     223
A Sexual Revolution     251
Conclusion: Home Sweet Home     271
Acknowledgments     279
Bibliography     283
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