On November 14, 1889, Nellie Bly, the crusading young female reporter for Joseph Pulitzer’s World newspaper, left New York City by steamship on a quest to break the record for the fastest trip around the world. Also departing from New York that day - and heading in the opposite direction by train - was a young journalist from The Cosmopolitan magazine, Elizabeth Bisland. Each woman was determined to outdo Jules Verne’s fictional hero Phileas Fogg and circle the globe in less than eighty days. The dramatic race that ensued would span 28 thousand miles, captivate the nation, and change both competitors’ lives forever.
The two women were a study in contrasts. Nellie Bly was a scrappy, hard-driving, ambitious reporter from Pennsylvania coal country who sought out the most sensational news stories, often going undercover to expose social injustice. Genteel and elegant, Elizabeth Bisland had been born into an aristocratic Southern family, preferred novels and poetry to newspapers, and was widely referred to as the most beautiful woman in metropolitan journalism. Both women, though, were talented writers who had carved out successful careers in the hypercompetitive, male-dominated world of big-city newspapers. Eighty Days brings these trailblazing women to life as they race against time and each other, unaided and alone, ever aware that the slightest delay could mean the difference between victory and defeat.
A vivid real-life re-creation of the race and its aftermath, from its frenzied start to the nail-biting dash at its finish, Eighty Days is history with the heart of a great adventure novel. Here’s the journey that takes us behind the walls of Jules Verne’s Amiens estate, into the back alleys of Hong Kong, onto the grounds of a Ceylon tea plantation, through storm-tossed ocean crossings and mountains blocked by snowdrifts twenty feet deep, and to many more unexpected and exotic locales from London to Yokohama. Along the way, we are treated to fascinating glimpses of everyday life in the late 19th century - an era of unprecedented technological advances, newly remade in the image of the steamship, the railroad, and the telegraph. For Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland - two women ahead of their time in every sense of the word - were not only racing around the world. They were also racing through the very heart of the Victorian age.
©2013 Matthew Goodman (P)2013 Random House Audio
“What a story! What an extraordinary historical adventure!”(Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire)
“Vividly imagined and gorgeously detailed, Eighty Days recounts the exhilarating journey of two pioneering women, Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland, as they race around the globe. Matthew Goodman has crafted a fun, fast, page-turning action-adventure that will make you wish you could carry their bags.” (Karen Abbott, author of American Rose)
“What a delight to circumnavigate the globe with pioneering journalists Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland. The two women carve out an adventurous path in a constrained Victorian world that cares as much about their marriage prospects and the number of trunks they pack as about their trailblazing career aspirations. Matthew Goodman’s lively writing and detailed research bring the story of these two remarkable women to life as they race around the world, full steam ahead, giving us an intimate look at a late-nineteenth-century world that is suddenly shrinking in the face of rapid technological change. Only one of these two remarkable women can win the race around the world, but the reader of this fascinating tale will be certain of a reward.”(Elizabeth Letts, author of The Eighty-Dollar Champion)
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+
Life long reader who his fast becoming an audible addict.
I didn't love this book although I really wanted to. The author seemed more interested in the general history of the time than in his main story line. There were far too many segues and non-sequitors for my liking, and there was something in the tone that made me think the author strongly disliked his subjects. At the end of the day this is too long to be worth picking up as a filler and probably not worth reading for fun.
I read a lot of history, especially American history, but I was barely aware of Nellie Bly and her story until I read this book. I really enjoyed reading it. An easy and engaging listen.
I would not recommend to a friend. There was so much potential for this book. Excellent subject matter! I really had to concentrate to stay interested in the book. It was so dry. I think it could have been terrific if told in the first person by each woman. The things these woman saw was described adequately. What was missing for me was the emotion they felt.
Can you imagine how excited, terrified, liberated, angry, fortunate they must felt? I wanted to hear about how they felt as they saw these things. And they were two totally different woman who had 2 totally different experiences. I could not remember which woman's trip was being told. They both sounded exactly the same, outside of physical location.
Because this story never reached into their brains, I felt bored. It was more of a travel log than a story. I didn't feel any desire to be these woman, know them or lived in the period. To me, that makes a historical novel a success, I should wish I could have been right there. With this book, I just kept checking to see how much time I had left to be done.
I would not have even finished the book except for her pleasant performance.
Yes, it would be better as a movie than it was a book. A director would give the woman some emotion and opinions.
I liked all the historical details and the performance of the narrator. I most disliked the disjointed and repetitive writing style. It seemed that the author jumped back and forth too much, repeated information, and took a long time to get the story told. Also, the epilogue seemed more an intricate part of the story, with, again, much repetition. I think the book could have been organized to have a better flow while still including the interesting history.
I thought she did an excellent job of portraying the personalities of the characters and keeping some of the more tedious historical facts interesting.
I found that I was surprised most how the world around me has changed so much from 1883 to now.....and how these two women lived, whether at home or abroad. How lucky I am.
I loved hearing about the foreign countries and thier customs, etc.
Well, it's more of a first hand account, rather than just a news story.
I didn't have an extreme reaction, but they certainly were much more brave about thier undertaking than I would be even in the present day. I neither laughed nor cried, I was more surprised at thier gumption! And some of the people they spoke with...Mr & Mrs Jules Verne and Mr. Pulitzer among others. A very interesting book, for sure!
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