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Are We There Yet?: The Golden Age of American Family Vacations (Cultureamerica) Hardcover – June 12, 2008

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Are We There Yet?: The Golden Age of American Family Vacations (Cultureamerica) + See America First: Tourism and National Identity 1880-1940 + Working At Play: A History of Vacations in the United States
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Product Details

  • Series: Cultureamerica
  • Hardcover: 252 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas; 1ST edition (June 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700615881
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700615889
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #527,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Smart and sensitive, well researched and no-nonsense, Rugh's ride is well worth taking." --The Atlantic

From the Back Cover

"Superb! Filled with wonderful images, Rugh's study is exceptionally detailed, extremely well researched and subtly informed by theory rather than driven by it. A well-written and reader-friendly history of a familiar but fascinating subject. I can't wait to own this book!"--Karal Ann Marling, author of As Seen on TV: The Visual Culture of Everyday Life in the 1950s

More About the Author

Susan Rugh is Professor of History at Brigham Young University and the survivor of childhood family vacations in places as far distant as Ogunquit, Maine and Lima, Peru. Her books investigate the history of families in America, from frontier family farms to Cold War family vacations. She writing a book on the history of family-owned motels in America, from the mom-and-pops of yesteryear to today's Patel Motels. A native of Utah, her favorite places to visit are Zion Canyon and Minnesota's Boundary Waters.

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 39 people found the following review helpful By D. N. Roth on August 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Although I found Rugh's summaries of complaint letters received by the NAACP and National Park Service to be captivating, her book is riddled with minor errors, inconsistencies in argument, claims beyond the scope of her compiled evidence (mostly secondary sources), and outright incorrect citing of sources. These errors overshadow the amount of decent research performed.

The book is not well-edited. Rugh confuses the plural with the singular as "camping materials" becomes "it" (p. 144) or "park operators" becomes "he" (p. 148). She becomes lost in her summaries as sources seem to overlap and stories and pronouns become confused (see pp. 157-158 in her discussion of the Gilmans' resort and mixing it up with Ryan's narrative). She states that Sinking Spring Farm is in Rockport, Indiana, when it is actually located near Hodgenville, Kentucky (p. 54). The New England Thruway becomes "The New England thruway" (p. 75). She refers to "The phenomenon of 30,000 motels" (p. 36) when just mentioning that the number of motels peaked at 51,000 (p. 35). These types of errors pepper her book.

Her arguments are not consistent through the book. At the beginning, she is careful to state that the family ideal in the 1950s did not really exist according to historians (p. 6), but then says she focused on families that fit the ideal (p. 11) and then makes assumptions about postwar reality based upon advertising, and other popular culture (see pp. 125-126 for an example regarding camping). She draws all sorts of generalizations about reality from advertising and popular culture when such research should have been presented as how businesses viewed the needs of the public (i.e. not a portrayal of what exactly was occurring in families).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marco Buendia on May 10, 2014
Format: Paperback
This is a very academic tome. It's certainly not a heart-warming re-enactment of all those trips across the Plains and down to Florida that the elderly remember, back when all we were worried about was nuclear war, or, earlier (and it does go that far back), Hitler. It has that quality that much university-oriented work has these days: this is what my colleagues are talking about, these are the topics I've written up in unreadable academic journals, this is what I've tormented my students with.

The book was donated to the Zero Public Library and put in the "Free" bin by the Friends of the Library. I can see why. Yet the topics are rather interesting, if you're the right sort of reader.

I really only read one chapter carefully, the chapter on Jim Crow. This chapter was, in large part, written about the behavior of the concessionaire to the National Park Service in Shenandoah National Park. This concessionaire would sluice black visitors to the Lewis Mountain campground, only, instead of two or three others. If you've camped at Shenandoah, you may be aware that this is the smallest campground. I myself camped there, a couple of years back. There's nothing in the interpretive material, signboards, etc. that would clue you in to this background. Unfortunately, though the author tells an interesting story, it would have been more interesting and more genuinely informative if she had compared practice in other NPS areas in the Old South: Great Smoky Mountains, Mammoth Cave, battlefields (if any blacks visited those). But she doesn't do this. Rather typical of academics (as well as pop culture blowhards) that she gets the story she thinks she understands, and stops there.

After finishing that chapter I threw it back in the donation slot. The next week, I saw it in the "Sale" area: two dollars. So who knows.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By William H. Young on August 5, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Since I well remember my own family vacations during the 1940s and 1950s, "Are We There Yet?" naturally stoked my memory. Author Rugh evokes the rustic summer camps, roadside cabins that predated the oncoming flood of motels, and the absence of glitz and sameness that colors so much of the vacation landscape nowadays. A nostalgic read, with emphasis on the postwar Midwest, it should appeal to a wide range of readers, especially those over 60 and a younger set curious about what people did during the summers in "those days." A good sampling of vintage photographs accompany the text.
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