by Lynne Withey ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 1, 1997
From the picturesque to the package tour, Withey (Voyages of Discovery: Captain Cook and the Exploration of the Pacific, 1987) chronicles the birth and growth of modern world tourism. In its arduous beginnings as an educational experience for the intrepid but affluent Englishman, the Grand Tour, typically comprising Paris, perhaps a hasty stopover in Geneva, and then the major cities of Italy, was the archetype of later travel, but one requiring a vast outlay of resources. Interrupted by the Napoleonic wars, during which English travelers turned to such regional fare as the Scottish Highlands, the Grand Tour was reinvigorated in the early 19th century with the building of new roads on the Continent, the rise of steamships and trains, and the increasing wealth of the English middle classes, in this farflung account, however, no one innovation or individual stands out more than Thomas Cook, an idealistic temperance leader whose vision of providing reliable, affordable travel to the middle class led to the rise of the package tour in the 1840s. Beyond their obvious appeal, the tours also served as safe and respectable methods for unescorted women to see foreign countries, and their success enabled Cook to expand westward to America and eastward to Japan. Withey also focuses on one other significant innovation, the modern guidebook, the first of which was published by John Murray in 1836. Like Cook's tours, the genre has had a lasting effect, teaching us what to look for when we are abroad. Withey spices her account with lively observations from literary travelers (including Samuel Johnson dismissing Highlanders as barbarians and James Fenimore Cooper arguing for travel by horse and carriage over railroads). She ends her narrative on the eve of WW I, when travel by automobile was becoming possible, and when air travel loomed distantly on the horizon. This is a consistently informative and surprisingly entertaining history, delivering far more than its modest title promises.
Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1997
Page Count: 384
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1996
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