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Buffalo Bill in Bologna reveals that the process of globalizing American mass culture began as early as the mid-nineteenth century. In fact, by the end of World War I, the United States already boasted an advanced network of culture industries that served to promote American values. Rydell and Kroes narrate how the circuses, amusement parks, vaudeville, mail-order catalogs, dime novels, and movies developed after the Civil War—tools central to hastening the reconstruction of the country—actually doubled as agents of American cultural diplomacy abroad. As symbols of America's version of the "good life," cultural products became a primary means for people around the world, especially in Europe, to reimagine both America and themselves in the context of America's growing global sphere of influence. Paying special attention to the role of the world's fairs, the exporting of Buffalo Bill's Wild West show to Europe, the release of The Birth of a Nation, and Woodrow Wilson's creation of the Committee on Public Information, Rydell and Kroes offer an absorbing tour through America's cultural expansion at the turn of the century. Buffalo Bill in Bologna is thus a tour de force that recasts what has been popularly understood about this period of American and global history.
"In Buffalo Bill in Bologna, Robert W. Rydell and Rob Kroes are interested in the worldwide triumph of mass American culture, or, as their subtitle has it, 'The Americanization of the World, 1869-1922.' With its several triumphant European tours, Cody's Wild West, as he called the show, was pivotal in this history. The book tells a great deal . . . about Cody's origins and the mechanics of his show."--Russell Baker, New York Review of Books
— Russell Baker
"The book illuminates its subject brilliantly. . . . The lively, absorbing, and unusually insightful text wears its learning gracefully and, perhaps unexpectedly, alludes to older notions of American exceptionalism in explaining the national talent for cultural entrepreneurship."
— Neil Harris
"Students of mass culture who have enjoyed Rydell's previous concerns with world fairs willnot be disappointed by this collaboration with Dutch historian Kroes. Any study of Americanization nust indeed aim to go beyond familiar concerns with our recent reception of American culture, and must go beyond merely English-speaking countries."
— Stephen F. Mills
"The book demonstrates decisively that American popular culture had a significant international presence well before the First World War and that its ideological meanings were always mediated by the ways in which it was apprehended, resisted, and appropriated by global audiences. . . . A deft and suggestive contribution to the emerging field of global cultural studies."
— Joy S. Kasson
"Rydell and Kroes's work demonstrates how popular entertainment is not innocent and how consumer pleasure can be functional to the governmental agendas of the state and capital. Commodity culture is political, not only becuase people actively identify with it in different ways, but also because it is where the cultural technologies of imperial power flourish."
— Tanner Mirriees
"This elegant synthesis of scholarship on US mass culture from the Civil War through the 1920s sheds new historical and interpretive light on the modern period."