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Journal of Social History 41.1 (2007) 220-221

Reviewed by
Stephen L. Harp
University of Akron
Histories of Tourism: Representation, Identity and Conflict. Edited by John K. Walton (Clevedon: Channel View Publications, 2005. viii plus 244 pp.).

A collection of independent chapters that began as conference papers, this volume offers readers a wide variety of topics, particularly on the history of tourism in Britain and German-speaking Europe. In a solid introduction, editor John K. Walton lays out a primary objective, which is to try to bridge the gap between the largely ahistorical field of "tourism studies" and the history of tourism as practiced by historians. Like other such collections, there is no unifying thesis, and the quality of contributions varies widely. At least one, "Japanese Tea Party: Representations of Victorian Paradise and Playground in The Geisha (1896)," by Yorimitsu Hashimoto, is interesting but doesn't easily fit into the volume topically.

Nevertheless, many of the essays are thought-provoking contributions both to their individual national subfields and to the history of tourism more generally. John M. MacKenzie's "Empires of Travel: British Guide Books and Cultural Imperialism in the 19th and 20th Centuries" explores the contents of guidebooks tied to the imperial cruise lines. Complementing much recent work on guidebooks used within Europe, MacKenzie's study reveals how the guides offered up an intricately detailed imperial mindset that could simultaneously reflect readers' assumptions and help to craft them.

John Beckerson and John K. Walton's "Selling Air: Marketing the Intangible at British Resorts" expands on work by Alain Corbin and by Walton himself in considering the marketing of air at different seaside resorts. Much like the qualities of waters at spas, seaside air or "ozone", to use eighteenth and early nineteenth-century terminology, was reputed to have unique characteristics. Medical discourse provided the vocabulary that seaside promoters could use to market "their air", thus legitimating travel to the seaside long before pleasure became reason enough for travel to the beach.

"Tourism in Augustan Society (44BC—AD 69)," by Loykie Lomine, may not appear to belong in the collection, since all of the other essays consider the modern period. Yet Lomine provides a necessary perspective for modern historians by arguing that tourism existed in practice well before the advent of the term at the turn of the nineteenth century. Using archeological evidence, inscriptions, and Latin literature, Lomine reconstructs touristic practice in Augustan Rome. The destinations may have sometimes differed, as the Alps were considered merely an obstacle by the Romans, but the sea from Rome to Naples was a major attraction. In the end, Lomine is persuasive in arguing that there was a certain longue durée for many of the norms we might otherwise associate only with the modern period.

Carlos Larrinaga's "A Century of Tourism in Northern Spain: The Development [End Page 220] of High-Quality Provision between 1815 and 1914" applies Michel Chadefaud's model of social analysis to tourism in Spain. Like Chadefaud, Larrinaga asserts that predominant social groups establish tourist practices that are later adopted by those lower on the social ladder. Unfortunately, the essay seems to force the realities of northern Spanish tourism into the model. Given Larrinaga's own evidence, it remains unclear whether, in fact, presumed social betters set the norms.

The two essays in the volume that dovetail nicely are a pair by Shelley Baranowski and Kristin Semmens. Baranowski's "Radical Nationalism in an International Context: Strength through Joy and the Paradoxes of Nazi Tourism" makes a strong case that Kraft durch Freude, the Nazi leisure organization, cannot be separated from the racist or bellicose projects of the Third Reich. Far from being a sort of bread-and-circuses refuge from the regime's ideology, as has been claimed, Baranowski shows that the organization cast travel as the manifestation of German material and thus moral superiority, thus bolstering the Nazi agenda. Semmens' "'Travel in Merry Germany': Tourism in the Third Reich" reveals the ways that commercial—rather than state-directed—tourism also...


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