Friday, September 13, 2013

Book Review Friday: Eighty Days


Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World by Matthew Goodman
Truth be told, I had never heard of Elizabeth Bisland, and while I know the name Nellie Bly I did not know she ever raced the iconic Phileas Phogg around the world.  So I was intrigued when this book came across my desk and I added it to my never-ending To Be Read list.  I'm glad it made it's way to the top.
Eighty Days takes place in 1889, when Nellie Bly was a young reporter working for the World newspaper, specializing in undercover and investigative work.  As a stunt to help boost circulation Bly's editor agreed to allow her to attempt a trip around the world in less than the time it took Jules Verne's Phileas Phogg in Around the World in Eight Days. Bly left New York headed east across the Atlantic on November 14, 1889, and using only conventional modes of travel intended to return in approximately 75 days.  Across town, the editor of The Cosmopolitan magazine decided to send his own female journalist west across the continent in an attempt to beat Nellie Bly home.  And thus Elizabeth Bisland was launched into the race with just a few hours notice.
This book by Matthew Goodman, part history, part biography, part travelogue tells the tale of this remarkable race across time and around the globe.  Goodman alternates between the travels of both journalists as he describes the lives and times of these remarkable women.  Traveling alone, when it was almost unheard of for a lady to do so, these women encountered inclement weather, illness, missed connections, and unusual cultures and climates.  Included in his narrative are details of the history of journalism and the vast expanse of the British Empire under Queen Victoria.  A fascinating glimpse into the Victorian Age and a race that caught the imagination of the entire world.

I listened to the audio book narrated by Kathe Mazur.  Ms. Mazur's narration was even, well-paced, and made listening a pleasure, even when the book seemed to run a little long.

If you like this you might also like:

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

The Woman Who Walked to Russia: A Writer's Search for a Lost Legend by Cassandra Pybus

The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-bats in Nineteenth Century New York by Matthew Goodman

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