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Desert Visions and the Making of Phoenix, 1860-2009 Paperback – March 15, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap


Through investigating Phoenix's struggle to become a major American metropolis, VanderMeer's study also offers a unique view of what it means to be a desert city.

From the Back Cover

"This is essential reading for anyone interested in twentieth-century urban America."  Southwest Books of the Year, 2011.

"[Desert Visions and the Making of Phoenix], with its multiple themes, broad scope, and lively detail should appeal to a wide and diverse audience of readers interested in a contemporary American city in which the constant has been changing visions of growth."  Journal of Cultural Geography.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press (March 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826348920
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826348920
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,767,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
VanderMeer studies how despite being regarded as more a "sprawling suburb" than a city, Phoeniz, Arizona, has had continuity since its founding in 1860. "Form, location, and culture have been central issues for Phoenix from the beginning, as early migrants sought to create something that people further east, the cultural standard bearers, would view favorably."

From its beginnings, Phoenix was distinctive from other towns in the relatively arid, desert-like Southwest. It was never really a "western" town with a natural Mexican and Native American population or involvement in the livestock or mining business. Phoenix was founded mainly as an agricultural. Carving out its own place, it always had to have a unique imagination in both representing itself regionally and nationally and in plans for growth. This particular imagination is seen from Phoenix's earliest decades when it represented itself as a something of an agricultural Eden making the desert bloom. This idealism resonated with the rest of the country, even to the East Coast cultural standard bearers. And it made the city more attractive as a tourist destination than most other "western" cities. In later phases, Phoenix would play up this more pleasing image it had from its beginnings by highlighting the surrounding natural beauty and slower, relaxed lifestyle. Thus did Phoenix generally thrive by a mix of good fortune, enlightened boosterism, beneficial labor activities, services for visitors, and satisfactory--though not entirely tension-free--relations between varied social groups.
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Desert Visions and the Making of Phoenix, 1860-2009
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