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Lust in Translation: The Rules of Infidelity from Tokyo to Tennessee Hardcover – April 19, 2007

3.7 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Former foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal now 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Here's a surprise: the U.S., which in the past 30 years has grown more open-minded about some sexual issues (such as homosexuality and premarital intercourse), has at the same time grown substantially stricter when it comes to extramarital affairs. Americans are vehemently against adultery, ranking it just a bit below polygamy and human cloning on the list of major no-nos. But in many other countries adultery is not such a big deal--often it's accepted if not formally condoned. In her quest to find out what it is about extramarital sex that provokes such widely differing reactions, the author visited 10 countries, including the U.S., Russia, Japan, and France, and spoke with adulterers, cuckolded spouses, sexologists, marriage counselors, and other interested parties. Interestingly, there seems to be no generally accepted view of adultery. Is it a sin, or a harmless pastime? It depends on whom you speak to, and where you speak to them. This engagingly written, intellectually provocative book is sure to be hotly debated by special-interest groups and individuals who think they know what's best for everybody else. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: The Rules of Infidelity from Tokyo to Tennessee
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The; First Edition edition (April 19, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594201145
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594201141
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,203,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I decided to buy a copy of "Lust in Translation" by Pamela Druckerman because way back when (mid 1980s), Pamela and I were US House of Representatives pages together. Other than an occasional email contact, I had not directly heard much from Pamela. I had read several of her Wall Street Journal articles over the years.

As someone who thoroughly enjoys reading about other cultures and people, this book fit my occasional non-fiction reading habits. I wasn't looking for anything "heavy" - as in, full of facts, figures, dates, or history. And, I certainly wanted to stay away from anything that seemed academic or dry.

It's fair to say that if you're looking for relatively creative non-fiction spanning several cultures that are not frequently bunched together or compared (including Hasidic Jews, French, and Chinese), you'll find it hard to put down this book.

In my opinion, Druckerman's writing style mirrors what you would expect from a former Wall Street Journal reporter. She mixes interviews, statistics, and commentary in a nearly seamless manner. In a sense, it's a collection of long articles - each relating to a different culture's practices and perspectives relating to infidelity.

There are many funny tidbits (using words you usually don't see in serious non-fiction) about how each culture covered refers to affairs in their language - often using slang terms. I laughed out loud a few times.

To me, the best contribution of the book is comparing the stereotypes regarding infidelity for each culture to how it is currently viewed within the culture. I was left surprised that anyone would share some of the details described in the book - even on an anonymous basis.

My overall conclusion is that this book falls into the category of "Truth is stranger than fiction." The way Druckerman handles this topic, it's possibly more funny than fiction, too.
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Format: Hardcover
As a psychotherapist, I must say that this book shares a clear perspective on cheating which is not only useful for professional therapists dealing with issues of infidelity, it is at once relevant and useful for my clients as well. Taking the approach from a non-religious and non-moral majority stance allows this painful yet fascinating topic to be unpacked in a way that gives us a sense that what is happening in these relationships, OUR relationships, is a quiet storm crying out for love and the absence of pain. We must grow together in relationships with communication as our navigational system, rather than rely on satisfying our emotional holes with sexual silly putty. This book should be on every therapists shelf and anyone in a relationship worth saving.
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Format: Hardcover
As an American who lived in Japan for several years, I believe that Ms. Druckerman's observations of the culture surrounding marriage, courtship, and extra-marital affairs in Japan are very accurate. I also enjoyed reading the rest of the book, and found it to be well-researched, well-analyzed, and well-written. This book does not aim to be a self-help book; rather, it is more of a sociological perspective on a universal issue. The book's description of cultural differences and personal perspectives regarding infidelity are fascinating. Overall, the book is interesting and enjoyable to read, and I highly recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an interesting topic---how infidelity is looked at around the world. But, this book is more of a paded magazine piece than anything else. There are some stats and then the author's travelogue of spending a few days in one country and a few days in another.Here is the Big Idea: people in poor countries cheat a lot, those in wealthy ones(including France), very little;we in the USA get worked up over cheating a lot, while our wealthy sisters(including France)see lies as part of life; in Russia, there is a ton of cheating going on because there are lots of men, few women, with men exploiting the difference. The wrap up chapter and the one on Russia are very good, as is the stuff on poverty/wealth and cheating. But,the book could have stopped there and been twice as good.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book gave a brief view of how infidelity is viewed in different countries. The author was very upfront on the challenges that she had with getting historical data and the methodology she used in gathering anecdotal information in the countries she visited. This book is not presented in an academic manner but reads more like a long magazine article. It entertaining because the reader as able to see how different cultures approached relationships and was made more fascinating because this is not a subject that the average visitor to a country would be able to discuss and get perspectives from a variety of persons. I liked this book and as long as the reader understands that the subject matter is being presented in a superficial way having being investigated by one person it should be a satisfying read.
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Format: Hardcover
I found this book interesting from a cross cultural perspective, but must agree with other negative reviews in that the writing suffers from a superficial level of understanding on the part of the author. The nuanced and complex social and ethical issues of infidelity simply cannot be readily captured by jetting into a foreign country for a few days to weeks, arranging some relatively random interviews, and then writing up the results of these investigations as representative of the culture as a whole. There's also a wide discrepancy between some information presented in the book and statistical data from other studies not quoted on the frequency and impact of infidelity. The chapter on the United States reads more like a cautionary tale to those who would consider cheating rather than an unbiased exploration of the topic. At several points in the book the author cannot restrain her own editorial side and this comes through as judgmental text where she lets slip her own personal distaste or disgust at the behavior of others. I had hoped this book would provide an unbiased and balanced perspective, but was disappointed in the "Cosmo-style" peeping Tom approach taken toward looking in the window to other people's private lives.
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