Cover: Adultery: Infidelity and the Law, from Harvard University PressCover: Adultery in HARDCOVER


Infidelity and the Law

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$41.00 • £35.95 • €37.95

ISBN 9780674659551

Publication Date: 03/14/2016


272 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

1 map


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Adultery remains illegal in 21 states. Rhode, though no fan of adultery, argues that it should not be prohibited by law, because such laws infringe on our constitutionally protected right to privacy—and have proved woefully ineffective, in any event, at protecting the institution of marriage.—James Ryerson, The New York Times Book Review

[Rhode] demonstrates that while the majority of Americans consider extramarital affairs morally wrong, most also believe that they should not be criminalized.—Marcia Zug, The Times Literary Supplement

Rhode’s scope is historically and geographically massive, from ancient Babylonia to Hawthorne-era New England to Eliot Spitzer, making for a fascinating comparative study.—Rosemary Counter, Maclean’s

Makes for quite an education, even for someone like me who (professionally, I must stress, as a divorce lawyer) encounters adultery on a regular basis. In her comprehensive and colorful account of the legal and social consequences of infidelity, Rhode describes how the law governing adultery has an unbecoming history, marked by intrusive inquiries, inconsistent application, and racial, class and gender bias. She explores why, at a time when sexual attitudes have grown more liberal, Americans remain largely unanimous in their disapproval of adultery… A thoroughly engaging and entertaining read.—Toby Atkinson, Law Society Gazette

For those fascinated by the history of this common but largely intolerable act, the volume is thorough and contributes to an argument that no doubt will continue for some time to come.—Jedd Beaudoin, PopMatters

Rhode succeeds in providing an unparalleled sociolegal take on the issues of infidelity and adultery with a focus on how the continued patrolling and protection of sexual relationships is not only no longer necessary, but also that it holds inherent discrimination—and is thus archaic law.—Nathalie Reid, Library Journal

Deborah Rhode’s Adultery takes us on a brilliant and beautifully-written jaunt through the history and present-day landscape of adultery. A wonderful combination of fascinating storytelling about human relationships and deep insight into the workings of the legal system.—Ariela Gross, University of Southern California Gould School of Law

Adultery is an extraordinarily well-researched, well-reasoned, and downright fascinating book. It is engaging enough to be enjoyed by general readers, rigorous enough to be used in law school and college classrooms, and persuasive enough that it will have a big influence on courts as they seek to update adultery law.—Joan C. Williams, University of California Hastings College of the Law

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