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Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.

Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World

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

This book about a newspaper stunt that captivated America in 1889-1890 excels at giving a sense of people, time, and place, evoking the sights, sounds, technology, and culture of the era in vivid and fascinating detail. When the Suez Canal opened creating a water route from Europe to Asia at about the same time that the transcontinental railroad was completed in the U.S., people, including Jules Verne, began to speculate about how fast a trip around the world could be. Jules Verne’s fictional hero managed it in 80 days, but reporter Nellie Bly and her editor thought she could do it faster, and sell a lot of newspapers in the attempt, so with almost no time to prepare she was off--heading east on a ship over the Atlantic. Later that day and with even less preparation Elizabeth Bisland working for an early incarnation of Cosmopolitan Magazine started off in the other direction.


The two women make interesting and appealing book subjects. They were very different--Nellie who did undercover reporting was scrappy while Elizabeth more interested in books and conversation was more cultured, but both came from impoverished backgrounds and had to work hard to be part of the mostly male world of journalism. The chapters alternate between the women as they venture around the world in opposite directions, often reacting very differently to what they encountered. I found myself hoping that somehow both women in this highly enjoyable book could win their globe spanning race.