Susan Barton. Healthy Living in the Alps: The Origins of Winter Tourism in Switzerland 1860-1914. Studies in Popular Culture. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2008. 224 pp. $84.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-7190-7843-9.
Reviewed by Dieter K. Buse (Laurentian University)
Published on H-German (January, 2010)
Commissioned by Susan R. Boettcher
Britons in the Alps
The manner in which the search for solutions to diseases prevalent in the nineteenth century, such as consumption and tuberculosis, led to the development of tourism is a significant story. The role that the British middle classes played in this endeavor within one region is well presented here. Susan Barton starts her narrative nicely, with her own experiences as a child of seven sent by a British charity in 1968 with a group of other British children to Arosa for a Kinderkur. As an adult, she researched British censuses, biographic reference works, and Swiss archives and interviewed doctors' children. Though presenting primarily the British background of these developments, she depicts the emergence of tourism (skiing, skating, and sledding) in Davos, St. Moritz, Arosa, Leyin, and Grindelwald. A chapter is devoted to each location, in addition to a chapter on the transfer of technology, and one that addresses the first organizers of winter sports in each place. Appropriate photographs accompany the text. As an item in a series of studies on British popular culture, the book does not consider the major contributions of other nationalities, including the Swiss, to the development of such pastimes as climbing, hiking, or sightseeing as aspects of tourism in Switzerland. Though the first chapter explores some of the issues, such as the ways in which the Alps became a focus for health, even a "mystical concept of the Alps as a place of healing" (p. 7), the academic literature on social reform and rural retreats as a means to escape urban and industrial blight is not considered in much detail, as the main context is restricted to English clubs at each of the above places. For instance, hiking for recuperation purposes, even by German leftists before World War I, as well as the facilities available, find no place in this account. The surprising number of newsletters and newspapers in English by and for the select English clientele is well utilized; however, most of the monograph will be of interest more to scholars of English than of German popular culture.
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Dieter K. Buse. Review of Barton, Susan, Healthy Living in the Alps: The Origins of Winter Tourism in Switzerland 1860-1914.
H-German, H-Net Reviews.
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