The Cold War may have officially ended, but, as Visson shows, the battle lives on in the culturally dysfunctional marriages...


WEDDED STRANGERS: The Challenges of Russian-American Marriages

The Cold War may have officially ended, but, as Visson shows, the battle lives on in the culturally dysfunctional marriages made by Russians and Americans. Throughout the 20th century, and often against serious odds, Russians and Americans have been falling in love and marrying. Visson, an interpreter and writer, herself married to a Russian, has interviewed some 100 of these cross-cultural couples and researched the lives of couples in the earlier part of this century in an effort to understand the strange mutual attraction between people whose countries were usually antagonists. While rational explanations can only partly answer questions about romance (though at different times Russians and Americans have decidedly held romantic notions of each other), extensive interviews offer a sometimes painful, sometimes hilarious window onto the daily challenges of these marriages. Visson's subjects range from Isadora Duncan and poet Sergei Esenin to Lee and Marina Oswald, and finally to a more frequently cited group of contemporary couples. The earlier couples lend historical interest to what is otherwise a sociological study. The contemporary couples are more familiar types (often virtually stereotypes)--their interests and circumstances focus far more on material rather than ideological matters. Visson's bumpy narrative jumps from couple to couple in a variety of chapters dealing with finding a spouse, adapting to one's new situation, and the challenging process of living as a cross-cultural couple. Visson discusses everything with them, from sex to in-laws and eating habits, and many of the responses are memorable. Commenting on American style, one Russian husband yells at his wife, ""All you American females yapping about liberation, always in a rush--you look as if you came off the garbage heap! No wonder you couldn't find an American husband!"" Some stay together despite serious differences, but many divorce (including, you guessed it, the above-cited couple). Conclusion: Americans are from Saturn, Russians are from Uranus.

Pub Date: June 1, 1998


Page Count: 256

Publisher: Hippocrene

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1998