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The Lifestyle: A Look at the Erotic Rites of Swingers Paperback – March 4, 2000

20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

If you thought swinging went out with the '70s, guess again. The "lifestyle" is three million strong in North America, according to Canadian journalist Gould, with crowded conventions, an anti-defamation league and thousands of Web sites. The investigative magazine reporter tells us that he initially approached the topic for his first book with the same suspicion he employs for his usual subject--the shadowy underworld of organized crime. But after spending a few years exploring America's swinging playgrounds and interviewing scores of "play couples," he now vigorously defends the lifestyle against the charges of feminists who say it's demeaning, religious leaders who say it's immoral and a press that looks down its elitist nose at the suburban phenomenon (although the author claims he has never joined in himself). Drawing examples from anthropology, biology and history, Gould repeatedly claims that lifestylers--from "soft swingers" to "fast lane couples"--are more moral than others because they don't sneak around on their spouses; they are usually middle-aged, middle-class, tax-paying professionals who are happily married, defend monogamy and more often than not believe in God. Though we get an occasional peek behind the curtain, Gould generally avoids graphic descriptions, giving us a tour of the fantasy rooms of a hard-core swinging playground only when they're empty. Despite the author's intent, in the end, the lifestyle, with its toga parties, conga lines and ice-breaking party games, comes off as more goofy than anything. Agents, Perry Goldsmith and Robert Mackwood. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Almost everything you wanted to know about swinging sex, but were afraid to ask. As a member of the Lifestyle, Gould (How the Blind Make Love, not reviewed) brings swinging out of the closet as he argues that consenting adults should not be denigrated for engaging in private behavior that (he claims) harms no one. Through a history of the Lifestyles Organization and interviews with swingers (mostly married couples), Gould depicts a world refreshing in its sincerity, openness, and normalityin spite of such apparent contradictions as swinging Mormons or Republicans. The view that emerges of the Lifestyle is one of hedonism, but an ethical hedonism in which individual choices are respected and boundaries never crossed without permission. Although Gould describes swinging trips to such hotspots as the New Horizons club (known as the ``Disneyland of swing clubs''), we see fairly little sex throughout the book beyond discreet suggestions that some couples do indeed pair off. With this surprisingly chaste approach, Gould fails to give the whole picture to his reader; consequently, some tough questions remain. Why does the Lifestyle encourage bisexuality among women, but not among men? How do swingers explain the Lifestyle to friends, family, and co-workers, and what are the repercussions for such honesty? Gould also undercuts his message with hearsay passed off as history: for example, very little evidence supports his argument that the Lifestyle's incarnation in contemporary America descends directly from the sexual practices of WWII fighter pilots. Likewise, his defense of swinging sex based on evolutionary theory (``fight sperm wars in females!'') relies more on assertion than proof. Although the ``Blind Fondle'' contest and other aspects of the Lifestyle might not appeal to everyone, Gould humanizes a marginalized community and demonstrates that sexual expression does not automatically equate with deviance. -- Copyright ©2000, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Firefly Books; 1 edition (March 4, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1552094820
  • ISBN-13: 978-1552094822
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,462,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 43 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
As a member of one of the clubs 'featured' in the book, I can confirm the accuracy, not only in a factual sense but in getting the correct 'feel' for how things work in 'the lifestyle' so many of us love. While I might quibble with some conclusions, I didn't at any time find the book to be significantly off the mark. It rings true to those of us on the inside, and you can't ask for more than that in this sort of book.
If you are a swinger, you will appreciate the history and analysis of what we do. If you are thinking about swinging, it will give you a good idea what you should expect (and what you should bring to the experience). And, if you have only a curiosity about it, this will tell you what you want to know in an unbiased, unvarnished manner.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By James Requa on January 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
The subject is, on the surface, swinging - sharing sexual partners. A closer look shows that the subject is the dynamics of close relationships. There is much written about the subject of relationships, so, you may ask why I think swingers have something to say? My answer is that swingers removed the taboos and discarded the 'already known facts' before examining the subject.
The book is not, I say, a definitive work. It is more of an investigation. It is far more complete, accurate, unbiased, thoughtful, and provocative than anything else I have seen on the subject. It will be quite valuable to anybody who reads it. I do not mean that whoever reads this book will see that swinging is the way to go - not at all. You don't have to be a swinger to benefit from what swingers have learned just as you don't have to be an astronomer to benefit from what astronomers know.
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55 of 61 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
As a couple contemplating the lifestyle, we were told this was the best book to read on the subject. Now, I would agree if I were interested in knowing all the historical facts regarding swinging, and if I needed a lot of facts to help me rationalize my decision and why it would not be wrong to swing. What I really wanted to know were about the emotional aspects that I could encounter, how to initiate contact with people, what to expect my first time, etc. Instead I found most of the stories with "real people" to take place at a resort, not a situation I am likely to be in. I think this book would be for somebody already involved in the lifestyle rather then somebody curious about it. It was very well written and researched, though.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book gives an unbiased look at sexual ethics in the Americas. It looks at the high divorce rate and suggests that swingers may have a better life than most of us. Most "lifestyle couples" are in committed relationships but just feel that monogamy is unrealistic and that open and honest relationships are the best. The book also contains some very sexy descriptions of the house parties and conventions these folks have almost every week.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
The Lifestyle is a well-written, fascinating, evenhanded look at swinging in North America today. If you've ever wondered, as I have, what makes these folks tick, this is the book to get. Very insightful, well-researched, and complete. Gould is remarkably objective for writing about such a sensitive subject. He is not an apologist for swinging, nor is he on a witch-hunt; rather, he seems intent on discovering the truth and communicating it clearly to the reader.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
We are a mid 30's couple that have been swinging since we met two years ago. This is an outstanding analysis of sociological, historical, biological and cultural implications of consensual sex between loving couples. It is a serious read that will live you informed and inspired. We just met the author whose presentation in person is inspiring. Terry Gould is becoming the spokesperson for an under represented and growing population. Excellent read!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is the best book on the subject to date. Although written by someone outside the Lifestyle, obvious care has been taken to let swingers speak for themselves. If you're curious about the subject, this is a good read.
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22 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 9, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was looking for more info on the emotional and psychological impact. I also didn't see enough negative information; in other words, I don't think ANY of the books I've read on swinging are properly balanced with both positive and negative feedback from participants.
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