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The Frontier of Leisure: Southern California and the Shaping of Modern America
Synopses & Reviews
Southern California has long been promoted as the playground of the world, the home of resort-style living, backyard swimming pools, and year-round suntans. Tracing the history of Southern California from the late nineteenth century through the late twentieth century, The Frontier of Leisure reveals how this region did much more than just create lavish resorts like Santa Catalina Island and Palm Springs--it literally remade American attitudes towards leisure. Lawrence Culver shows how this "culture of leisure" gradually took hold with an increasingly broad group of Americans, and ultimately manifested itself in suburban developments throughout the Sunbelt and across the United States. He further shows that as Southern Californians promoted resort-style living, they also encouraged people to turn inward, away from public spaces and toward their private homes and communities. Impressively researched, a fascinating and lively read, this finely nuanced history connects Southern Californian recreation and leisure to larger historical themes, including regional development, architecture and urban planning, race relations, Indian policy, politics, suburbanization, and changing perceptions of nature.
"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.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved." Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
About the Author
Lawrence Culver is Assistant Professor of History at Utah State University.
Table of Contents
Prologue: The View from Fantasyland to Main Street, U.S.A.
Ch 1: Inventing the Frontier of Leisure: Charles Fletcher Lummis and the Creation of the "Great Southwest"
Ch 2: The City of Leisure: The Contested History of Public Recreation in Los Angeles
Ch 3: The Island of Leisure: Tourism and the Transformation of Santa Catalina Island, 1887-1919
Ch 4: Westward the Course of Leisure Takes Its Way: Santa Catalina in the Wrigley Era
Ch 5: The Oasis of Leisure: Palm Springs before 1941
Ch 6: Making the Desert Modern: Palm Springs after World War II
Ch 7: From Resorts to the Ranch House: Southern California's Culture of Leisure and the Making of the Suburban Sunbelt
Epilogue: The View from Mount San Jacinto
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History and Social Science » Americana » California