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The Holiday Makers

Magazines, Advertising, and Mass Tourism in Postwar America

256 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / 17 halftones

ebook available

Media Studies / Journalism

  Hardcover / 9780807142844 / May 2012

Winner of the AJHA Book of the Year Award

In mid-twentieth-century America, mass tourism became emblematic of the expanding horizons associated with an affluent, industrial society. Nowhere was the image of leisurely travel more visible than in the parade of glossy articles and advertisements that beckoned readers from the pages of popular magazines. In Richard K. Popp’s The Holiday Makers, the magazine industry serves as a window into postwar media and consumer society, showing how the dynamics of market research and commercial print culture helped shape ideas about place, mobility, and leisure. 

Magazine publishers saw travel content as a way to connect audiences to a booming ad sector, while middlebrow editors believed sightseeing travel was a means of fostering a classless society at home and harmony abroad. Expanding transportation networks and free time lay at the heart of this idealized vision. Holiday magazine heralded nothing less than the dawn of a new era, calling it “the age of Mobile Man—Man gifted, for the first time in history, with leisure and the means to enjoy distance on a global scale.” For their part, advertisers understood that selling tourism meant turning “dreams into action,” as ad executive David Ogilvy put it. Doing so involved everything from countering ugly stereotypes to tapping into desires for “authentic” places and self-actualization. 
Though tourism was publicly touted in egalitarian terms, publishers and advertisers privately came to see it as an easy way to segment the elite free spenders from the penny-pinching masses. Just as importantly, marketers identified correlations between an interest in travel and other consumer behavior. Ultimately, Popp contends, the selling of tourism in postwar America played an early, integral role in the shift toward lifestyle marketing, an experiential service economy, and contributed to escalating levels of social inequality.

Richard K. Popp is assistant professor of media studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Praise for The Holiday Makers

“A delightful read...Popp has a gift for expressing ideas and for threading important theoretical perspectives into the discourse without losing readers.”—Journal of American History

The Holiday Makers...serves as a model of how well a mix of government statistics, consumer magazine articles on a single topic or trend, advertising trade magazine articles, and careful reading in twentieth-century history of the United States can...illustrate the importance of print media to cultural transformation.”—Journalism History

The Holiday Makers is a very insightful and well-researched study of the age of mass tourism in postwar America. In addition to addressing a gap in the scholarship on consumer culture history, it fits into an emerging literature on how Americans were taught to 'see' the world in particular ways during the cold war era.”—Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly

“Popp weaves a must read that aids our understanding of commercially made American culture, and the rise and fall of the American vacation.”—American Historical Review

“As an interdisciplinary study, The Holiday Makers is successful in incorporating a range of relevant literatures, including critical theory, cultural history, tourism, marketing, and consumer culture. . . . A valuable book that contributes to the development of national identity, mass market, and the business of travel.”—Business History Review


“The author is elevating tourism from merely ‘leisure time’ and illuminating it as a powerful tool of political propaganda and effective instrument for relieving social, political and economic tensions.”—Journal of Cultural Geography

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