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Are We There Yet?: The Golden Age of American Family Vacations (Cultureamerica) (Culture America (Hardcover)) Hardcover – June 12, 2008
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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).Read more ›
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.Read more ›
"Are We There Yet" is actually most interesting when it delves into more difficult issues, such as racism, segregation, and the mayhem of travel. It's also notable for omitting certain segments completely, such as the LGBT community, save for a brief mention; a fairly inexcusable oversight as the subject is not only ripe for discussion but because discrimination against them continued until fairly recent times. The appeal of "Are We There Yet" will likely be limited to historians and social scientists, but lay readers may find it an interesting read as well. Rugh's prose is quite accessible and the stories and topics she covers an insightful glimpse in our recent past.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I remember when my father got back from the Navy, we were loaded up in our car and drove for miles on our first family vacation when I was 5 yrs old. Read morePublished 18 days ago by Sheila J. Walker
Good history of the American vacation from the backseat of the car onto American highways during post-World 2 America.Published 13 months ago by Mike's Fire
Surprisingly very interesting. I read this for my History Seminar course and it was quite enjoyable.Published 14 months ago by Robert Mooers
From the cover & title, I expected this book to be more Bill Bryson-esqe, full of interesting anecdotes. Read morePublished on August 24, 2010 by Patrick Laughlin