From Publishers Weekly
In his first full-length effort, beach tans, bungalows, and the California dream drive historian Culver's smart and insightful exploration of the region's lasting association with tourism and recreation. While Culver views the promotion of leisure in Southern California as the coincidental result of a national phenomenon, he argues that this new attitude towards recreation played a big part in the country's development during the 20th century. The region as a realm of Anglo-American leisure was created by Charles Fletcher Lummis, a writer and California "booster," in the 1870s, Culver contends. And the newly-established Los Angeles appealed initially to the unwell but drew hordes of tourists and home-seekers by the 1920s, solidifying the region's identity as an exotic, libertine escape from East-coast labor, a myth that was aggressively promoted by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, among others. Culver also notes frequent historical attempts to limit recreation in Southern California to affluent whites and the resulting racial tension, but is primarily interested in the effect the area's leisure culture had on the country, influencing not only the construction of suburbs and homes, but the way that Americans think about nature, modernity, and play.
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"[An] excellent study...The Frontiers of Leisure" is an important contribution to the history of tourism, the history of western United States, and the history of southern California." --Southern California Quarterly"Culver...clearly demonstrates that fun in the sun had serious consequences in terms of urban planning, land use, and race relations." --The Public Historian"Beach tans, bungalows, and the California dream drive historian Culver's smart and insightful exploration of the region's lasting association with tourism and recreation." --Publisher's Weekly"A most entertaining read and highly recommended to anyone interested in the cultural, urban, and environmental histories of the American Southwest."--Sarah Schrank, H-Net"The more Southern California is studied, the more relevant it becomes to understanding the national experience. Lawrence Culver's pioneering study, so superbly managed, chronicles the emergence of leisure as a near-Bill of Rights in the American way of living."--Kevin Starr, University of Southern California"Radiating outward like the rays of its famous sunshine, Southern California's recreational ideas and practices have shaped the lives of Americans and culture of the nation far beyond regional boundaries. Lawrence Culver takes leisure seriously, and we're all the beneficiaries of his insight." --William Deverell, Director, Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West"The bright lights of LA have inspired the dreams of millions. In his well-written and often provocative study of how the city became the most successful tourist attraction in history, Lawrence Culver explains how it also inspired new patterns of urban growth and architecture across the United States. Anyone interested in modern sprawl and its curious relation to modern nature cannot afford to miss it." --Louis Warren, University of California, Davis"A wonderfully fresh take on an enduring debate--Is southern Calif