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Comment: Withdrawn library copy with limited marks/attachments. Pages are clean and crisp. Cover and dust jacket have moderate surface and edge wear.
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Devil's Bargains: Tourism in the Twentieth-Century American West (Development of Western Resources) Hardcover – October 16, 1998


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Product Details

  • Series: Development of Western Resources
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas (October 16, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700609105
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700609109
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,122,064 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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, a University of Nevada-Las Vegas history professor, ably and exhaustively 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. The West derives much of its appeal as a tourist attraction, Rothman explains, from its place in the American cultural imagination as a kind of exotic elsewhere, a refuge from the postindustrial urban world. Such perceptions pressure Western communities to stay frozen in time, he maintains, and play up their quaintness. Consequently, tourist demands, not the needs of local residents, play the biggest role in determining the community's values and way of life. Moreover, even as it bolsters the local economy, the tourist industry mires many locals in low-paying, dead-end jobs. Thus, Rothman concludes, "Tourism is the most colonial of activities... because of its psychic and social impact on people and their places." As insightful and deftly argued as recent books on the region by Robert Kaplan and Timothy Egan, Rothman's study traces the history of Western tourism from the late 19th 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. Each has been transformed from a small, obscure town to a mythic destination, he argues, often leaving local residents trapped inside the myth that the tourists' imagination creates. Illustrations not seen by PW.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In the post-Civil War years, Americans turned west to fulfill their dreams of a Manifest Destiny. Soon even common folks could travel to the West in large numbers, thanks to the railroad and then the automobile, which made popular attractions like Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and the national parks, ski areas, and dude ranches accessible to everyone. Eventually, tourism transformed the Western communities it touched. Rothman (history, Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas; Reopening the American West, Univ. of Arizona, 1998) examines this transformation, systematically addressing the social, cultural, environmental, and economic costs of tourism. Another interpreter of the "new Western history," he sees the West as a colony of Eastern industrial capital. Building on Earl Pomeroy's In Search of the Golden West (1957; Univ. of Nebraska, 1990. reprint) this is a vital and significant addition to the literature. Recommended for all libraries, especially those with Western Americana collections.?Patricia Ann Owens, Wabash Valley Coll., Mt. Carmel, IL
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
For discerning travelers planning a western vacation this summer, or for that matter, for anyone curious about the popular allure of the West, Hal K. Rothman's "Devil's Bargains" is a must read. Rothman, a professor of western and environmental history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, provides a richly detailed assessment and critique of the development of tourism as it has evolved from the late nineteenth century to the present in the inter-mountain West. Synthesizing the existing scholarship on tourism, enhanced by wide ranging primary research, Rothman reveals a fascinating, yet disturbing, underside to the glitz and glamour of the tourist economies firmly established in western resort towns from Santa Fe to Las Vegas.
"Devil's Bargains" presents a series of provocative histories recounting the development of resort towns and tourist sites across the inter-mountain West including the Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, Carlsbad Caverns, Steamboat Springs, Aspen, Vail, Sun Valley, and Las Vegas, among others. The book also codifies the history of tourism under a new interpretative framework which divides the development of tourism into three phases: cultural and heritage tourism, recreational tourism, and entertainment tourism. Beginning at the turn of the century with cultural and heritage tourism spawned by the transcontinental railroads seeking to expand passenger traffic, tourism evolved into recreational tourism made possible by the automobile and a growing fascination with exercise and the outdoors in the aftermath of World War I, and culminated after World War II with entertainment tourism dependent on the Jet airplane and the dramatic expansion of widespread prosperity, a leisure ethic, and a pervasive consumer culture.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 12, 1999
Format: Hardcover
For those of us who live in tourist towns and see how the incredible number of visitors changes them, this is the book! It looks at a large number of places -- from Santa Fe to Maui, from Las Vegas to Aspen -- and shows in great detail how they change. It reads well too, on a par with better known authors like Robert D. Kaplan and Tim Egan. I heard the author speak here in town--I guess he lives here-- and it made me buy the book. I came away extremely impressed. This is not my usual reading. I'm more a John Grisham type. But this one rang bells for me. After I read this book, I was in Thailand on business and I found myself using Devil's Bargains as a lens for what I was seeing. The comparisons were striking and I wondered if this book might apply to more than the West. Well written and snappy, showing a lot of research, this one is a real winner, especially for anyone in city planning or tourist development.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Eric Petticord on January 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I was born into the park service and lived the tourist experience. This book really helped me form a perspective about my early years growing up in western tourist and resort environments. Western history is fascinating, but this angle on western history really gives another intriguing dimension to america's perception of the mythic frontier.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has rightly become a standard reference on tourism in the American West. Rothman explores the links between local culture and national tourism, locally-controlled business and the wider forces of American capitalism. Not surprisingly, he ends of telling a story of internal colonialism by which locals steadily lose control of their town, their culture and their economy as outside capital and ideologies enter. In the end, tourist destinations become Las Vegas, floating above and without any local culture or local economic participation, with workers immigrating from elsewhere to serve visitors from outside.

Rothman looks closely at Jackson Hole/Grand Tetons, Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns and (surprise!) Jefferson Expansion National Memorial among the national parks; ski resorts like Steamboat Springs, Aspen, Vail and Sun Valley; and destinations such as Santa Fe and Las Vegas. Despite the diversity of topics, the book book feels dominated by ski areas - - perhaps because the transition from isolated community on cross-country skis to a corporate-owned resort staffed by outsiders feels strongest there.

There's a lot of local color in most of these accounts, as Rothman clearly knows some of these locales very well. That said, I wouldn't have minded the work of a sharp-penciled editor to trim perhaps 20% of the volume. The book is at its strongest in its introduction and conclusion, which present its overarching themes very well; and it is weaker when recounting purely local battles that, all too often, resemble the same stories elsewhere. All the same, it's a very worthy book for anyone interested in western history, environmental history, and the political economy of tourism.
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Devil's Bargains: Tourism in the Twentieth-Century American West (Development of Western Resources)
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