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ADULTERY

As the nation emerges from its obsession with the Monica Lewinsky affair, DeSalvo reflects on adultery’s positive and negative effects on marriage. Given her obvious narrative and literary drive, her academic interests, and her personal history, DeSalvo (Writing as a Way of Healing, 1999; Breathless: An Asthma Journal, 1997) seems destined to have written a book on adultery. An advocate of creative writing as a means of recovering from trauma, a memoirist, a Virginia Woolf scholar, and a wife whose husband, Ernie, committed adultery in the days following the birth of their first child, DeSalvo brings the right stuff to her latest book. Adultery is more of an extended essay on the subject, from the perspective of literature and from personal experience. Literary examples of how adultery drives both an author’s relationships and writing dominate the book’s beginning—with ample but not especially revealing references to Virginia Woolf, Henry James, Edith Wharton, and D. H. Lawrence. Soon the tone turns chatty and intimate, with breathy passages like this: “You feel caged. You feel suffocated. You need to find a way to get out of this cage. Soon. Now . . . “ Shifting from one story to another, DeSalvo fleshes out her different perspectives on adultery—her childhood fantasies of her grandfather’s mysterious solo trips back to Italy, her own adolescent form of adultery, and her husband’s adultery. By the book’s end, the source of DeSalvo’s irrepressible enthusiasm for the subject grows clearer. Rather than remain bitter—forever a victim of another’s transgression’she performs a Hegelian twist and turns her husband’s adultery into a positive growth experience for herself. With decades of hindsight, DeSalvo concludes that Ernie’s affair was in part exhilarating and liberating for her, allowing her to think about herself and her life in a fresher and more meaningful way. A compassionate and level-headed book. Given DeSalvo’s unbending belief that adultery is the critical experience in many people’s lives, it might resonate most with those who have a personal stake in the subject.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8070-6224-3

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1999

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THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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THE CULTURE MAP

BREAKING THROUGH THE INVISIBLE BOUNDARIES OF GLOBAL BUSINESS

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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