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Devil's Bargains Tourism in the Twentieth-century American West

by Hal Rothman

Part of the Development of Western Resources Series

Devil's Bargains Tourism in the Twentieth-century American West Synopsis

The American West has always been seen as a land of opportunity, but tourism has transformed it into a land of opportunism. From Sun Valley to Santa Fe, towns all over the region have been turned over to outsiders - not just those who visit, but those who control. There's no denying that tourism has been a blessing for many: it's brought economic and cultural prosperity to communities without obvious means of support and allowed towns on the brink of ruin to renew themselves. But in too many cases, the costs of tourism have challenged the benefits and proven it to be a devil's bargain. Environmental historian Hal Rothman examines the impact of tourism on the West in the 20th century to illuminate that industry's darker side. He tells how tourism evolved from Grand Canyon railroad trips to Sun Valley ski weekends to Disneyland vacations, and how the post-World War II boom in air travel and luxury hotels capitalized on Americans' newfound leisure and income. He identifies three dominant forms of tourism - cultural, recreational and entertainment - and shows how they've melded together as the tourism industry has begun to transform everyday places into images of what visitors expect to see. From major destinations like Las Vegas to revitalized towns like Aspen and Moab, Rothman reveals how the initial development of tourism may seem inocuous at first; but residents ultimately realize that control of their communities has been placed in the hands of corporate financiers and that they've lost the very authority they sought to preserve. Because tourism often results in a redistribution of wealth and power, observes Rothman, it represents a new form of colonialism for the region - not East over West, but haves over have-nots. By sharing stories of real places and the experiences of real people that depict the true nature of tourism, Rothman doesn't just document change but enables us to understand why and how it takes place. Balancing historical perspective with an eye for what is now happening in the region, his book aims to set the standard for the study of tourism.

Devil's Bargains Tourism in the Twentieth-century American West Press Reviews

Devil's Bargains is a breakthrough book. It becomes the starting point for all future studies of not only tourism but also Western identity and will be integral to discussions on colonialism in the West and Western development. It is valuable for both the range of the material it covers and the depth and nuanced analysis of its case studies, but it does much more than this. It creates a language and a structure for the study of tourism--neonatives, recreational tourism, cultural tourism--that will quickly be adopted by other scholars and structure their analysis. Should appeal to a wide popular audience. --Richard White, author of It's Your Misfortune and None of My Own: A History of the American West Once pillaged for its raw materials, the American West is now looted for its landscapes and historical auras. Giant resort and gaming corporations are rapidly transforming the canonical frontier into a neon theme park, pockmarked with casinos, prisons, trophy homes, and urban slums. Tourism, as Hal Rothman demonstrates in this brilliant and disturbing book, is the price of the land's very soul. --Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz: Excavating the Future of Los Angeles Intricately researched, wonderfully detailed, and profoundly disturbing. --American Historical Review An important book filled with cultural insights and a bold interpretive model. --H-Net Reviews Tourism has been vital to the economic health of the American West for most of this century. In a penetrating look at the social, economic, and psychological dynamics shaping the region's modern identity, Rothman demonstrates that the tourism industry has also exacted high costs from many of the communities that have become the West's most popular travel destinations. As insightful and deftly argued as Robert Kaplan's An Empire Wilderness and Timothy Egan's Lasso the Wind, Rothman's study traces the history of Western tourism from the late nineteenth century to the present, exploring in comprehensive and eminently readable detail the ways in which the tourist industry has shaped communities as diverse as Santa Fe, Aspen and Las Vegas. --Publishers Weekly This remarkable book is both instructive and entertaining. It should be of great interest to anyone who cares about the West and wonders why its best places seem to change so rapidly and so completely. --Bloomsbury Review

Book Information

ISBN: 9780700610563
Publication date: 30th October 1998
Author: Hal Rothman
Publisher: University Press of Kansas
Format: Paperback / softback
Pagination: 434 pages
Categories: Tourism industry, Pollution & threats to the environment, Sociology: sport & leisure, Cultural studies,

About Hal Rothman

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