Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World, by Matthew Goodman is a darn good story, full of little known facts, offering a more than a snapshot of late nineteenth century America and the journalism and prejudices of the time, and providing a bit of a cautionary tale.
While the story of Nelly Bly’s “race” around the world is the center of the book, there's good context provided of the run-up to the event. Indeed, much of the meat of the book is life after the race. I hadn't known about Elizabeth Bisland (who’s actually a much more likable character – especially in the sense that I’d have liked to have been like her).
PS: Nelly did the trip with but one dress. Elizabeth a good bit more!
There are beautiful descriptions of the places that Nelly and Elizabeth visit and an interesting perspective on how steam power (ships and trains) changed the world so quickly.
Much of the book takes place after the race, and does drag a bit; there’s some repetition and the book could probably have been edited a little more firmly, but the way it addresses celebrity, and its impact on Nelly Bly’s life, is thought-provocative. B+
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