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In See America First, Marguerite Shaffer chronicles the birth of modern American tourism between 1880 and 1940, linking tourism to the simultaneous growth of national transportation systems, print media, a national market, and a middle class with money and time to spend on leisure. Focusing on the See America First slogan and idea employed at different times by railroads, guidebook publishers, Western boosters, and Good Roads advocates, she describes both the modern marketing strategies used to promote tourism and the messages of patriotism and loyalty embedded in the tourist experience. She shows how tourists as consumers participated in the search for a national identity that could assuage their anxieties about American society and culture.
Generously illustrated with images from advertisements, guidebooks, and travelogues, See America First demonstrates that the promotion of tourist landscapes and the consumption of tourist experiences were central to the development of an American identity.
“Shaffer’s book is a welcome, and indeed much needed, contribution to the growing body of literature on tourism in the United States, and even more specifically, on the relationship between tourism and nationalism. The book points to the increasing sophistication with which scholars are approaching the subject.”–Scott Zeman, H-Net Review
“See America First is the first comprehensive assessment of tourism and the formation of a twentieth-century American identity. The voyage of discovery is both individual and national, cultural and personal. . . . Shaffer shows how local and regional businesses collaborated to create a national message that a willing nation embraced.”–Hal Rothman, University of Nevada-Las Vegas