Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World – Matthew Goodman

eighty daysNellie Bly was a daring undercover reporter for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York newspaper, The World.  She had exposed the dreadful treatment in an insane asylum, worked in a paperbox factory, sought treatment in a medical clinic for the poor, trained with boxing champion, John L. Sullivan, and sung with the chorus of The Academy of Music.  Her columns, sometimes exposing the shabby treatment of the poor, sometimes fun and entertaining, were never boring.  Having read Around the World in Eighty Days she proposed the idea that she could beat Phineas Fogg’s record.  She could do it in seventy-five.  So on November 14, 1889, she was aboard the Augusta Victoria when it left the pier in Hoboken, New Jersey.

That morning, John Brisben Walker, publisher of the monthly magazine Cosmopolitan read the headlines about Nellie Bly and realized the publicity value of the trip.  Deciding that heading west was a better idea, he quickly contacted his literary editor, Elizabeth Bisland, about racing Bly around the world. At first she adamantly refused, but was finally persuaded and at 6:00 in the evening was on a train bound for Chicago, eight and a half hours behind Nellie Bly.

This is a fascinating account of two young women traveling alone during the Victorian age, filled with wonderful details about modes of travel, strange countries and exotic people.  These two very different women saw the same things through very different eyes, and came away with very different opinions about the world they had circumnavigated.

eGalley review     Publication date 2.26.13

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