Synopses & Reviews
A strange and surprising journey around the world to examine how and why people cheat on their spouses. This global look at infidelity truly reveals a puritanical America From Memphis to Moscow, when it comes to infidelity the statistics tell the story. People cheat on their spouses-in fact, they cheat with astonishing frequency. But even illicit love has rules, and these rules change radically from country to country. Acclaimed journalist Pamela Druckerman decided to investigate extramarital affairs all around the world to discover how different cultures deal with adultery-and her research leads her to believe that both the concept and the consequences of infidelity are far less rigid outside the United States. Americans, she decides, are the least adept at having affairs, have the most trouble enjoying them, and, in the end, suffer the most as a result of them. The rules of fidelity aren't as strict in many other parts of the world because some cultures have found ways to acknowledge that adultery is an expected, if not acceptable, part of the marriage contract. The French, contrary to popular belief, have affairs at about the same rate as Americans do, and they're just as titillated by sex scandals. Although the subject of infidelity is still very taboo there, unlike Americans, they refuse to moralize about it. In Russia, staying faithful to one's spouse is merely optional; one poll stated 50 percent of men and 25 percent of women have cheated on their current spouse, to say nothing of previous marriages. In Japan, Druckerman discovers that two-person futons and mattresses aren't even for sale in most stores, and the saying among businessmen is If you pay, it's not cheating. SomeJapanese marriage counselors hire prostitutes to teach women how to lure their husbands home. Pamela Druckerman, formerly a foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, has done her homework. She's interviewed people from all over the world, from retirees in south Florida to polygamist Muslims in Indonesia, from ultra-orthodox Jews in Brooklyn to residents of a concubine village outside Hong Kong. She takes us on a journey all around the world, talking with sexologists, psychologists, marriage counselors, and most of all, cheaters and the people they've cheated on, only to discover that America is still a place with surprisingly outdated ideals. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world, many cultures are more accepting of the fact that a monogamous marriage is an incredibly difficult contract to keep.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[Druckerman's] finely calibrated moral compass is matched by a reporter's knack for deft, understated description....[This] thoughtful and myth-busting study of infidelity deserves to be widely translated and read."
"A witty, engaging exploration of comparative infidelity. . . . Undeniably alluring."
-The New York Observer
"Colorfully told. . . . Entertaining."
-The New York Times
"[Druckerman's] finely calibrated moral compass is matched by a reporter's knack for deft, understated description."
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?
Acclaimed journalist Druckerman decided to investigate extramarital affairs around the world to learn how different cultures deal with adultery. The result of her journey reveals some surprising results.
Compared to the citizens of just about every other nation, Americans are the least adept at having affairs, have the most trouble enjoying them, and suffer the most in their aftermath and Pamela Druckerman has the facts to prove it. The journalist's surprising findings include:
- Russian spouses don't count beach resort flings as infidelity
- South Africans consider drunkenness an adequate excuse for extramarital sex
- Japanese businessmen believe, "If you pay, it's not cheating."
Voyeuristic and packed with eyebrow-raising statistics and interviews, Lust in Translation
is her funny and fact-filled world tour of infidelity that will give new meaning to the phrase "practicing monogamy."
About the Author
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 B�b�, 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.