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Rothman, Hal. Devilís Bargains: Tourism in the Twentieth-Century American West. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998 (434 pp.). Rothman, a professor of history at UNLV, writes in Devilís Bargains that "tourism promises much but delivers only a little," and much of what it does deliver is not what communities anticipate: crowds, environmental damage, a different kind of resident, inflated property taxes, lost local businesses, low-wage jobs, and control by outside forces. In sum, tourism changes communities, often burying the very things that drew people to them. Rothman begins with a history of tourism in the West, showing how the patterns he will extrapolate later begin around the turn of the century, with the "development" of the Grand Canyon and Santa Fe. The tourism history of the Canyon is one we thought we knew, but Rothman fills in gaps and brings a lot of characters only known as names to life. Santa Fe is, of course, a special case, and in many ways itís the archetypal city for tourism scholars to study because it presents so many challenges and opportunities. Rothman comes down on the "Santa Fake" side, and itís here where he introduces his notion of "neo-natives," newcomers who eventually take control of a place (they pop up in nearly every story). Like most other studies of the region, he traces the detrimental effects of the automobile, particularly in the national parks, but most of his commentary is reserved for ski areas throughout the West: Aspen, Vail, Sun Valley, and Steamboat Springs, among them. Chapters on Las Vegas and entertainment tourism (but not much on Disneyland) round out the study, which is a fine introduction filled with fascinating characters, but itís spotty, one-dimensional, and incomplete. From a historical perspective, thereís almost nothing on Arizona (except the Grand Canyon), even though Phoenix, Sedona, Scottsdale, and Tucson more or less invented and continue to define the resort experience (he does include some on Wickenburgís dude ranches). Utah has some of the finest national parks in the country (Zion, Bryce, Arches, etc.), but thereís little on this part of the country (no Moab?!), just as there is almost nothing on tourism in modern Montana, a state on the tourism bubble. Perhaps Rothman does not consider southern California, Texas, or the Northwest part of the "West," because the reader will find virtually nothing on surfing, Disneyland, or the exploding tourism economies around Austin or Seattle, just to pick few. Had the book been titled "Development in the Rocky Mountainsí Ski Areas," it might be a better fit. The selection of sites is not the only shortcoming: Most of the research focuses on residents and developers, i.e., the ways tourism impacts residents (almost always negatively), and the ways developers swindle residents (usually conniving, behind-the-back, often illegal) and take control from locals. In this whole mess, thereís little on tourists themselves, the tourism industry, or tourism trends in the West (eco-, cultural, heritage). If the book is about tourism, where is it? What we get in the Las Vegas chapter, for example, is the mob history of Vegasís move into gaming and tourism (granted, interesting stuff), with almost nothing about how tourism actually works (or what it even is). Both criticisms are criticisms of omission, and the book is already long enough, so weíre not asking for a longer study. Perhaps eliminating the repetition from the ski slopes and including different communities (and more from touristsí and the tourism industryís perspective) might address this drawback, because as it is, this is hardly "Tourism in the Twentieth-Century American West." Our main beef (we do like the book, by the way) is that Rothman offers no alternative, other than, "Tourismís bad, keep it out of our community." Well, too bad, thatís just not a viable option in most places, especially in the West. Tourism is here, it will stay, and it will probably continue to expand. To say to city planners, elected officials, developers, and job-seekers, "Look, tourism ruined Vail," is not going to stop most of them from rushing headlong into the tourism business (and, surprise, many wouldnít mind being Vail). Even towns that reject tourism are probably part of a larger region thatís trying to draw visitors, so these towns have to deal with tourism, too. What the book can and does do well is warn us, by offering examples of communities that did not get out in front of the steamroller and manage tourism properly. Had the book included some examples of cities that are doing it better (and what we can learn from them), this would be a more complete, balanced, and fair picture. We can all point to places that have been mucked up by tourism, but we canít put the genie back in the bottle. So letís get beyond the tourism-ruined-our-town hackneyed lament, and work to develop better approaches.


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