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Synopsis

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.

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