Tag Archives: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World

Eighty Days by Matthew Goodman

Eighty Days by Matthew Goodman: In November of 1889, World journalist Nellie Bly set off for a trip around the world with the intent of beating Jules Verne’s fictional record of eighty days. On the same day, The Cosmopolitan journalist Elizabeth Bisland set off in the opposite direction, and the race was on. I find this to be a fascinating period in American history to begin with, but even more compelling were the stark differences between Bisland and Bly, one a genteel Southerner and the other a born urbanite. Their reactions to their foreign surroundings covered the ends of the spectrum of popular opinion. I especially appreciated the sheer thoroughness of the narrative: this book also covered Bly’s exposure of a local asylum by getting herself committed undercover, Joseph Pulitzer’s strange quirks, and the working conditions aboard the steamships of the time, among other things. This is truly nonfiction that reads like fiction, and I simply loved it. Definitely recommended.

A note on this edition: I read an advance reader’s copy, which is an uncorrected proof. Most of the time these books are nearly identical to the final publication, but in this case there were a number of placeholder images and the index was completely blank. I’ll have to pick up a copy when it’s released to see what that map of Ceylon at the beginning of every chapter is really supposed to be.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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