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The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 8. Juni 2004

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  • Taschenbuch: 288 Seiten
  • Verlag: Broadway Books; Auflage: PB-Video Center. (8. Juni 2004)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 9780767915304
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767915304
  • ASIN: 0767915305
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 13,1 x 2 x 20,3 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (4 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 12.932 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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J. MAARTEN TROOST’s essays have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, the Washington Post, and the Prague Post. He spent two years in Kiribati in the Equatorial Pacific and upon his return was hired as a consultant by the World Bank. After several years in Fiji, he recently relocated to the U.S. and now lives with his wife and son in California.

Leseprobe. Abdruck erfolgt mit freundlicher Genehmigung der Rechteinhaber. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

Chapter 1

In which the Author expresses some Dissatisfaction with the State of his Life, ponders briefly prior Adventures and Misfortunes, and with the aid of his Beguiling Girlfriend, decides to Quit the Life that is known to him and make forth with all Due Haste for Parts Unknown.

One day, I moved with my girlfriend Sylvia to an atoll in the Equatorial Pacific. The atoll was called Tarawa, and should a devout believer in a flat earth ever alight upon its meager shore, he (or she) would have to accept that he (or she) had reached the end of the world. Even cartographers relegate Tarawa either to the abyss of the crease or to the far periphery of the map, assigning to the island a kindly dot that still manages to greatly exaggerate its size. At the time, I could think of no better destination than this heat-blasted sliver of coral. Tarawa was the end of the world, and for two years it became the center of mine.

It is the nature of books such as these--the travel, adventure, humor, memoir kind of book--to offer some reason, some driving force, an irreproachable motivation, for undertaking the odd journey. One reads, I had long been fascinated by the Red-Arsed Llama, presumed extinct since 1742, and I determined to find one; or I only feel alive when I am nearly dead, and so the challenge of climbing K2, alone, without oxygen, or gloves, and snowboarding down, at night, looked promising; or A long career (two and a half years) spent leveraging brands in the pursuit of optimal network solutions made me rich as Croesus, and yet I felt strangely uneasy, possibly because I now own 372 (hardworking) kids in Sri Lanka, which is why I decided to move to a quaint corner of Europe, where I would learn from the peasants and grow olive wine. And typically, the writer emerges a little wiser, a little kinder, more spiritual, with a greater appreciation for the interconnectivity of all things.

Let me say at the top here that I didn't have a particularly good reason for moving to Tarawa. There was nothing Quaker-ish, Thoreau-ish, Gauguin-ish (as you wish) about my taking a little leave from Western civilization, which I thought was fine mostly, particularly as manifested in certain parts of Italy. True, I had worries. News You Can Use, the peculiar link between consumption and identity, professional athletes who strike, Cokie Roberts, the Lazarus-like resuscitations of Geraldo Rivera's career, and the demise of the Washington Redskins as a team to be reckoned with all gave me pause and even some anxiety regarding the general course of Western society. However, these issues seemed insufficient to justify a renunciation of continental comfort. I was simply restless, quite likely because of a dissatisfaction with the recent trajectory of my life, and if there is a better, more compelling reason for dropping everything and moving to the end of the world, I know not what it is.

It was the summer of 1996 and I had just finished graduate school in Washington, D.C., which is where I'd met my girlfriend, Sylvia. Both of us had studied international relations. I focused on Eastern Europe (think triumph of good over evil), and Sylvia concentrated on Western Europe (think agricultural subsidies), for which she has been teased mercilessly. While Sylvia passed her semesters with determined ambition, I drifted through, racking up modest grades, until finally there was not an exam left to be taken, not a paper to be turned in, and I was discharged. Job offers were not forthcoming, most likely because I didn't apply to any jobs. Nor was I particularly adept at what is called networking, which is highly encouraged among job seekers, but perhaps not entirely useful for reticent souls utterly flummoxed by what career to pursue.

Instead of getting a job I went to Cuba, which as expected was interesting, and this delayed for ten more days my entry into the ranks of the employed. I traveled there impulsively, deciding one day that Havana was where I really wanted to be, and within a week I found myself on the Malecon, the seaside avenue, saying yes to cigars and no really, I didn't want to meet their sister. In Havana, I danced in the salsa manner. I rode in a Studebaker. I had long rambling conversations with handsome, middle-aged women about the troubles in Cuba and I learned from them where on the black market in Habana Vieja I could find a chicken. I smoked a marijuana cigarette with Havana's bad element. I learned that Che is ubiquitous in Cuba, and that for most Cubans he is something more than a fashion statement. I learned much else besides, and I didn't even speak Spanish, dredging up instead a hybrid patois composed of schoolboy Latin tossed with French spoken in the accent of Ricardo Montalban.

One may wonder how an unemployed ex-graduate student with no means whatsoever was able to afford a trip to Cuba. The truth of the matter was that I couldn't afford it. However, in an act of colossal misjudgment, American Express had agreed to give me a credit card. American Express, of course, was not accepted in Cuba itself. This is because Cubans are Communists and we are not allowed to trade with Communists, unless they are Chinese Communists. American Express, however, was very helpful in obtaining the full-fare economy-class Washington-Newark-Mexico City-Havana round-trip ticket on AeroMexico, as well as one night's accommodation at an airport hotel in Mexico City, after my last twenty dollars were used to pay an unexpected departure tax in Havana. ("Mais ca dise dans la guido por visitor, no departure tax.") Since I was resoundingly broke at the time, what cash I did have came from defying the tenets of my lease and subletting my one-room apartment to an intern contributing his time to restoring values in America, which apparently lost them, probably in the sixties. He lived in my apartment for one month (cleanliness, apparently, was not a value worth returning to). Since I spent only ten days in Cuba, this left three weeks of unresolved residence needs that needed addressing, which led to an interesting conversation.

"Hi, Mom."


"I'm going to Cuba tomorrow."


"I'll be back in ten days, provided that Castro doesn't arrest me and the INS lets me back in. Ha-ha."


A whispered aside. ". . . he's going to Cuba tomorrow." The family dog, a beagle, howled.

Bob, my stepfather, got on the line. "Maaaaarten," he said, which he does whenever I'm doing something unreasonable, something that will upset my mother. "You know your mother doesn't like Communists. But listen, since you're going, let me call my friends at the Agency. You could do some freelance work for them."

Offline, my mother's voice, plaintive. "Bob!"

It was Bob's method of diplomatic, benevolent stepparenting, suggesting something more outrageous than what I had devised, so that in comparison, my own reckless irresponsibility seemed suddenly like a moderate course of action. I was grateful for this. I promised my mother that I would not act on Bob's suggestion. It would be foolhardy, I said, to spy for the CIA. I assured her that I would refrain from engaging in any activities that could lead to my spending the rest of my days withering away in a Cuban gulag. In return, I received three weeks of accommodation in suburban Washington, meals included, which worked out well, I thought.

Alas, I soon discovered that a daily wake-up call from a collection agency is a remarkably unpleasant way to begin one's day. These are not warm, friendly voices delicately reminding you that your account is just a trifle overdue, but intimidating snarls threatening personal ruin, and while they didn't precisely say that they were sending Vinnie over and that I might soon have some mobility...

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Format: Taschenbuch
To describe briefly the content, a couple from the U.S. move to Kiribati for 2 years, this being a country that consists of many tiny islands - merely atolls - spread over a vast area in the middle of the Pacific and largely being ignored by the western world. An almost impossible country, this is also a very hard area to live in, one must know, with hardly anything else than fish and coconuts to eat and yet people are as kind as one can imagine.

Now that I have finished the book, I am sure that not the author but the editor choose the title. I have never come across a book that has no relation to its title. After much contemplating I have come to the conclusion that it could be related to those polynesians that migrated to Kiribati or the other possibility being the dogs eating each other for the lack of food. Please Maarten, help me on this one.

But apart from that, this is a truly wonderful and amusing book, not for the "otherness" of the people of Kiribati, but for the authors struggle to find a way between blending into this society and living his own lifestyle. J. Maarten Troost's unpretentious way to describe their life is a great pleasure in this world of development aid (I can attest that it is very true to reality) and I can only marvel at the couples patience and curiosity and respect, which are so rare in this world. Thank you Maarten
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Wir konnten Ihre Stimmabgabe leider nicht speichern. Bitte erneut versuchen
Von Sven Mueller am 21. Juli 2012
Format: Taschenbuch
If you enjoy self-deprecating, contrived humor, this book is for you. Yes, the author can be witty at times, but his humor is often rather predictable, 'too cute', and falls into an easily discernible pattern. Moreover, the book is incredibly shallow. Sure, few people are Malinowskis, Levi-Strausses, or Sahlinses, but it would not have hurt to analyze a little more what's been going on in the Gilbert Islands. The book is barely more than a description of how a Western couple does NOT enter the culture of the Kiribati people and how 'strange' (meaning 'funny') the locals are. Yes, we learn a little bit a about the sad influences that Western culture has had on these islands but the author doesn't seem to be aware that his craving for canned beer is part of the problem (and not of the solution).
I'm giving it only one star for the incredibly deceiving title. The book isn't about anyone's sex-life or cannibalism. Granted that the publisher may be responsible for that but the gross mismatch between the, supposedly, catchy title and the content of the book is highly disappointing if not more. Overall, the book is whiny, repetitive, and long-winded. It would have been a greater experience (and a much more interesting life and book) if the author had moved to the island by himself, learned the language, worked there, found himself a spouse and--above all--actually had sex.
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Wir konnten Ihre Stimmabgabe leider nicht speichern. Bitte erneut versuchen
Von Nico Schmalzl am 5. Januar 2013
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Tolles Buch, wenn man auf sehr kreativen (in teilweise recht komplexen Englisch verfassten) Schreibstil Wert legt. Hat zeitweise Ähnlichkeiten mit Douglas Adams (nur eine persönliche Meinung), daher für alle diejenigen ein tolles Buch, die mit recht sarkastisch beschriebener Situationskomik etwas anfangen können.
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0 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von Y. Weyers am 10. Oktober 2004
Format: Taschenbuch
I bought this book a couple of days ago at the Sydney Airport just because I thought the back of the book jacket was already hilarious. I'm not a big friend of travel books like Bill Bryson etc. but this book is one of the funniest and most interesting books I have read. I will not even get into details here, every chapter is a delight and once you finish you will want more!! Hopefully J. Maarten will have a prosperous future as an author so we could enjoy more of his work!
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Amazon.com: 275 Rezensionen
109 von 116 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Read this book! 28. Februar 2005
Von Maudeen Wachsmith - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
You know how you feel when you've just finished a really good book and want to tell everyone you know about it? That is how I feel about THE SEX LIVES OF CANNIBALS. During the first few chapters I was laughing out loud so much and reading passages to my husband so often that he mentioned he wouldn't even have to read the book. However since he formerly lived in the Marshall Islands, this book hits home to him and he could hardly wait until I was done to grab it from my hands.

Maarten and Sylvia have no idea what they're getting themselves into when Sylvia agrees to a two-year contact to work on Tarawa, a remote island in the equatorial Pacific islands also known as Kiribas (The Gilbert Islands).

This was LOL funny in so many places! Maarten's turn of a phrase is so clever that he makes one laugh in the face of a nearly intolerable situation living on this remote island - part of which is so crowded it rivals Hong Kong in population density. The 20th century wasn't kind to these islanders. Their unique culture juxtaposed with the creations of the 20th century is very nearly ruining their culture. But Troost is able to find nearly everything funny (even though one wonders if he felt it was that funny at the moment) including the bowel habits of the natives. On the back of the book in Maarten's brief bio, it is revealed that he and is wife are living in California. One can only hope that he is becoming the writer for a sit-com. He makes other authors of humor/travel memoir seem dull in comparison. If I would compare him to anyone it would be Erma Bombeck-the way he is able to find hilarity in even the most mundane things.

This book deserves to be a bestseller and hopefully by word of mouth it will be.
33 von 38 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
One of the best in recent years! Give this book a chance! 2. September 2005
Von Jessica Lux - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Troost and his wife truly do go to the end of the world, to a tiny country in the equatorial Pacific, and live in an alternate reality. Troot's misadventures with the town's hygiene and sanitation, the toxic fish, a complete lack of vegetation, limited dry goods, cannibalistic dogs, a rundown airplane, high seas on a plywood boat, and the like are relayed to the reader with humor and wit. Beer is popular because it "tends to be parasite-free and calorie-laden, two very useful attributes on Tarawa." At first, Troost is an outsider, shocked by the island going-ons, but over the course of his two years there, he truly adopts the island lifestyle, so much that America is a complete culture shock for husband and wife when the part ways with Kiribati.

Troost makes some insightful comments on infrastructure--he took for granted in his previous life that water and electricity came to your house by magic. On Kiribati, he has hilariously eye-opening experiences ensuring a supply of both.

Throughout the book Troost recounts the history of Kiribati, its culture, and its relationship to the outside world. He actually does a real service to the island by recording the oral tradition and myth, and placing it in context with the slim amount of published literature on Kiribati. Over the course of his stay, he grows to be a real defender of the nation. When Kiribati sincerely accepts the offer of a British drunkard to become their Poet Laureate, the global media has quite a laugh at the nation's quaint nature. Troost is certain to set the truth straight about the lout who only lasted a few months in Kiribati.
54 von 66 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A light entertaining account of an ex-pat's life in Kiribati 16. Oktober 2004
Von saskatoonguy - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
The author describes living for two years in Kiribati, an ex-British colony in the Pacific Ocean that is now independent. He thought he was moving to a tropical paradise, but instead found that even in the national capital, people would regularly defecate in the lagoon, the grocery stores couldn't keep basic staples in stock, and water and electric supplies were irregular at best. He speaks of the Kiribati people with enormous and sincere affection, but a reader can't avoid the conclusion that these islands would be better off if they were still a British colony.

Troost writes in a light, humourous tone, making this book a pleasure to read, although there are places where Troost is a little too cute for his own good. A few photos would have been a nice touch, and is it asking too much for the publisher to include a map? And by the way, the title is misleading - there is very little here about sex and nothing about cannibalism. A book this good does not need the cheap gimmick of a misleading title.
28 von 35 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Mental Note: Don't Vacation On Tarawa. 21. September 2006
Von FateJacketX - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
One would think that "The Sex Lives of Cannibals" was a psychological reference book about the libidinous habits of Hannibal Lector and friends. Actually, it refers to the historical beginnings of the peoples on a remote Pacific island called Tarawa. The ancesters of those native to the atoll apparently lost their men to invading cannibals who went on to procreate with their women through force, creating a non-descript race of islanders. Not exactly what immediately comes to mind upon reading the title of J. Maarten Troost's first novel, a true story about his two year adventure on a small piece of land in the middle of the an endless bowl of water.

It all begins with Troost's lethargic approach toward his job. He's fed up with it. When his girlfriend Silvia is given the opportunity to work in a program designed to benefit the health and environment of the Gilbert Islands, Troost joins the unemployed and goes with her. Thus begins their whirlwind island lifestyle amid searing heat, lackluster living conditions, consistent health problems and just overall doing without. Many of their trials are humiliating, frustrating, inhuman and sad.

Tarawa has no waste disposal system so people relieve themselves in the ocean. Refuse piles up along its narrow roads and beaches, ignored. The author's cement, vermin-infested dwelling place is considered prime living compared to the thatched homes of the natives. Other countries bully them, depleting their only revenue of tuna by greedily fishing in Tarawa's coveted waters. They have no working fire trucks, have to use sticks instead of toilet paper and four hours of electricity isn't only a rare gift, but a pleasant surprise. Dogs are disease-ridden predators that prowl in huge packs, eating their own in sheer desperation. The daily menu is fish, fish and more fish. Boil your water and you might just go a day without parasites polluting your insides. These are the things poor city-dwellers Maarten and Silvia dealt with on a daily basis from the moment they stepped off the rickety plane that had to abort its first landing because pigs were on the runway.

The best way to experience the hardships of others is to walk around in their shoes. Troost did this with reluctant gusto and there's a feeling of dread in every chapter that most of us can't identify with. The descriptions are harrowing, from Tarawa's ridiculous do-nothing government to the I-Kiribati's (pronounced Kee-ree-bas) unusual preoccupation with the song "Macarena." The people seem amicable enough, just dealing with the cards fate dealt them in that laid-back island way. Most of them don't know what it's like to have a vcr or to use a toilet or have air conditioning. They don't steal, preferring to rely on the "bubuti" system of just saying, "I bubuti you for your shirt," or "I bubuti you for bus fare." It sounds like an agreeable way of life at first, but it's also a good way to go broke. Luckily(?) most of the people don't have much anyway.

That's just one example of Troost's depiction of his own culture shock after settling in Tarawa. He goes on to show us much, much more. And he does it in a funny, clever prose that sometimes veers off into rambling or preaching. He benefits from his time away from the states, even when he complains of being harassed by drunken villagers. The only real drawback of the piece is the lack of personality or character in his wife-to-be, Silvia. Wasn't she the reason they were there in the first place? Troost mostly writes about the heinous living conditions and his interactions with the I-Kiribati. Silvia is often ignored and gives very little to the experience. But that can be overlooked - those people have experienced enough as it is.
5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
You can no longer pretend to be remotely interested in someone's trip to the mall... 28. April 2006
Von Gretchen Coppedge - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
"It is one of the small pleasures of living in Kiribati that the foreigners one meets tend to live life in a vivid and eccentric sort of way, and when you listen to their tales.......you find that you are ruined from a conversational point of view, that you can no longer even pretend to be remotely interested in someone's trip to the mall....." J. Maarten Troost is so right. Living large, as he did on Kiribati, does ruin you for oh so many things oh so many people think are important.

THE SEX LIVES OF CANNIBALS was recommended to me by a friend who had lived in Tonga for a couple years, and having met another who had actually lived in Kiribati, I did know where the country was long before reading Troost's rich tale. It does help. But Troost's informed and descriptive storytelling could enlighten (and bring cheer) to even the most geographically deficient, I am sure.

While I laughed out loud repeatedly at Troost's observations of life on Tarawa and his self-effacing recollections, (and quoted him all too frequently) I also shuddered at the ugly truth of all that has been done to and allowed by the I-Kiribati. Troost introduces the reader to the seemingly absurd; and for the first chapters his recollections allow the reader to enter lightly, to laugh, to find humor in the eccentricities of Kiribati and Troost's life. But in time the harsher side of honesty begins to feel rather uncomfortable, particularly uncomfortable for those of us who have lived among the aide agency mentality in "developing" countries. Yet this harshness is not pointed out without caring, real caring for the people of Kiribati. Caring and a real sense of humor, Troost has them locked up.

SEX LIVES is a must read for anyone who has spent time in the South Pacific, or any really-warm-climate-developing-nation for that matter. More importantly it is a book that those of us who are interested in learning more about the world we live in will have great fun reading at the same time as actually broadening our perspective. I have just shared my precious copy with a friend who lived in the Solomon Islands.
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