In France children play a board game, Loto des Odeurs, to help them develop and refine their sense of smell. The French believe in the right to pleasure so they are highly tolerant of other people’s private lives and do not enjoy ugly revelations. Investigative style journalism is rare. The concept of sexual sin and Bible toting politicians don’t exist. French workers hoping to get a job in the public sector, a low-level ticket agent for example, are expected to answer literary questions about the 1678 novel La Princesse de Clèves on their application exams. Though it has nothing to do with ticket taking or any other civil servant job, this romantic novel is so widely loved in France that business-minded president Nicolas Sarkozy created a national uprising when he tried to have the Princesse questions removed from the test. These are just some of the differences between the American and French ways of living, loving and seeing the world that New York Times reporter Elaine Sciolino covers in this humorous but insightful and informative book.In recent days Sciolino has been writing in the New York Times about former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s arrest on sexual assault charges, and he makes an earlier appearance in this book as a well-known womanizer who was nevertheless on track to be a presidential candidate in the next election. Sciolino organizes her book around the idea of seduction, a concept everyone in France seems to have strong and positive ideas about. A belief in the power of seduction explains why the French loved Benjamin Franklin but not John Adams, why the French tried to rule their former colonies by persuasion rather than brute force and why Woody Allen and his films are so popular in France. (If his new movie Midnight in Paris is any indication Allen loves France as much as the French love him.)If you are going to France this book may help you enjoy your visit more. If, like me, you can’t get away right now reading La Seduction will at least give you a window into that fascinating country.