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Tourists of History: Memory, Kitsch, and Consumerism from Oklahoma City to Ground Zero

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ISBN-13: 978-0822341031
ISBN-10: 0822341034
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Tourists of History is a fearless guide through the paranoid landscape of contemporary American culture. Marita Sturken brilliantly maps the ways consumerism and tourism offer avenues of comfort in a threatening world at the same time that they become politically disabling. From the responses to the Oklahoma City bombing to the memorials to the Twin Towers, Sturken shows how the American way of mourning and remembering the dead shores up a conviction in a timeless sense of national innocence. This exceptionally timely book reaches deep into the past and will continue to resonate in the future.”—Amy Kaplan, author of The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture


Tourists of History is a great read: well written, accessible on numerous levels, and driven by a persuasive argument that links tourism, consumerism, and Americans’ understandings of themselves and their history.”—Erika Doss, author of Spirit Poles and Flying Pigs: Public Art and Cultural Democracy in American Communities


“Sturken is at her best making connections among the varied strands of American popular culture and mass media. . . . Sturken's analysis of contemporary consumer culture is stimulating. . . .”
(Kenneth E. Foote, Journal of American History)

“Sturken shows how the complex interrelationship of fear and safety ultimately defines contemporary American culture and provides momentum for an episteme in which a terrorist threat is always imminent. Her book is original and powerfully insightful, and comes strongly recommended to readers of cultural studies and public history.”
(Adam Dodd, M/C Reviews)

“While she argues for the importance of remembering the tragic loss of lives in Oklahoma City, Washington, Shanksville, and New York City, Sturken urges attention be paid to a dangerous confluence of memory, tourism, consumerism, paranoia, security, and kitsch that promulgates fear in order to sell safety, offers prepackaged emotion at the expense of critical thought, contains alternative politics not always seen until after the fact, and facilitates public acquiescence in the federal government's repressive measures at home and its aggressive political and military policies abroad.”
(John F. Barber, Leonardo)

From the Publisher

"Tourists of History is a great read: well written, accessible on numerous levels, and driven by a persuasive argument that links tourism, consumerism, and Americans' understandings of themselves and their history."--Erika Doss, author of Spirit Poles and Flying Pigs: Public Art and Cultural Democracy in American Communities
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (November 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822341034
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822341031
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,101,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 5, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Marita Sturken's "Tourists of History" is an enlightening overview about how America dealt with the two most catastrophic events of its recent history - the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 - by wrapping itself in a mantle of kitschy products which tried, but ultimately failed, to bring comfort to the bereaved.
The quintessential object of comfort is the teddy bear, given to children (and adults) affected by these two tragedies (and the sequential wars in Afghanistan and Iraq). These teddies (almost all of them cheaply manufactured overseas) are tasked with the job of saying, "All will be well over time" - a promise that neither they nor anyone else can keep. Nor can a teddy bear tell anyone about the social and political roots of terrorism, both domestic and international. What teddies do best is reinforce the intractable belief that America is innocent: We are the good guys, we have done nothing wrong in the world, how can anyone hate us? Anyone who has paid attention to history knows that America is not and has never been innocent.
Sturken urges us to take a good look at all of American history, and not be mere tourists only interested in the parts that are nice to look at. Buy this book today.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Thomas on April 6, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was actually required reading for a Communication class in college.

It was a surprisingly interesting and in depth read. I would recommend adding it to your collection.

Definitely enlightens you to how American's react to tragedy, as well as, how our society has grown accustomed to exploiting tragedy.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tracy on January 8, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
not my taste in reading material, needed for college class, found on amazon, fair price, delivered quiclky, and was excactly what was required for class
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