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Eighty Days

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

By Matthew Goodman

Eighty Days
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  • Hardcover: Feb 2013,
    480 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2014,
    496 pages.

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There are currently 22 reader reviews for Eighty Days
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CarolK (04/06/13)

The Race Is On!
Impressed doesn't cover the half of it. Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History- Making Race Around the World is one romp of an adventure. A fan of vicarious thrills, this book gave me more than my money's worth. Who could not love the intrepid spirit of both these women and what they accomplished?

Of course I had heard the name Nellie Bly but truly knew little about her. Born Elizabeth Jane Cochran I was surprised to read what lengths she would go to for a good news story for New York's The World. From buying a baby to expose the slave trade, to feigning insanity to report on the mistreatment of women in Blackwell Island Insane Asylum there was little Bly wouldn't do for an expose. None though would bring her the acclaim and fame of her proposal to beat Jules Vern's 80 day around the world trip. With just a single grip to carry her needs and "dressed in a snugly fitted two-piece garment of dark blue broadcloth trimmed with camel's hair", she sets out on the journey of a life-time. Little did she realize rival magazine, The Cosmopolitan headed by John Brisben Walker, would pit his own candidate, Elizabeth Bisland, against her to circumnavigate the world in less than 80 days. Bly sets out in New York heading across the Atlantic, whereas Bisland's route takes her west across, 8 1/2 hours behind Nellie.

The race was enough to keep my interest but there's so much more for the reader to appreciate. A memoir not only of the women, Bly and Bisland but a period piece of New York and journalism. Nellie Bly's determination and fearless nature help to build a strong foundation for the right for women to hold leadership roles in the workplace.

Riveting narrative non-ficiton.
Darshell S. (Warwick, RI) (02/27/13)

Eighty Days
This book is a good read. It is very well researched. The facts and history throughout the book are interesting and engaging. It is not dense or boring at all. The race is thrilling and you feel your self rooting for your fave to win. I would recommend this as a book club selection or just as a good read for yourself. It's history that reads like fiction. A great pick for the upcoming women's history month!
Sharon P. (Jacksonville, FL) (02/20/13)

Eighty Days Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisbane's History-Making Race Around the World - Matthew Goodman
What a terrific read! I expect very few of today's readers had any knowledge of an around - the - world race between two young women working for competing newspapers in late 1800's New York City.
Each competitor is followed with alternating chapters, detailing her incredible journey and the marvels she encountered.
This is a great story of an exciting time in our history. It's a Book Club natural! Who won? Really?..... Read the book!!
Ange (02/15/13)

slow read of a fast race
The book is very thorough on details which unfortunately made the book a slow and at sometimes cumbersome read. The subject is very interesting about all the trials a woman journalist had to go through to travel around the world but sometimes it felt just drawn out. I do think this would have an interest to someone wanting to learn more about women breaking through barriers.
Virginia B. (Foster, RI) (02/13/13)

Bly and Bisland See the World
Goodman's "Eighty Days" is a thoroughly researched and well written account of two 19th century woman journalists who attempt to beat the fictional character created by Jules Verne who traveled around the world in 80 days. I enjoyed learning about these two plucky women who went against the conventions of the time. Goodman skillfully reveals the personalities of these two women who have very different approaches and reactions to the challenge. In addition, I enjoyed reading the detailed accounts of America at the end of the 19th century and traveling conditions around the world. Having said that, I think that Goodman got lost in too much detail at times like a student who has done an enormous amount of research and wants to include everything. History buffs, women, and arm chair travelers will enjoy this book. "Nothing Daunted" by Dorothy Wickenden is a similar and interesting read.
Diane H. (San Diego, CA) (02/10/13)

Around the World
An interesting non-fiction book about an attempt by two women in 1889 to circumnavigate the globe in less than the 80 days it took Jules Verne's fictional character, Phileas Fogg. I love reading about strong, unconventional women and this book delivers. The book is full of interesting facts and fascinating trivia but does become a cumbersome read at times because of it. A great idea to summarize the rest of the women's lives in the epilogue. Overall an enjoyable read.
Patricia T. (Fallbrook, CA) (01/24/13)

Eighty Days
One of my favourite genres is non-fiction about women in history who achieved great things at a time when it was difficult for them to do so. I thought this would be a grand adventure in that category. It tells the story of a two directional race, one woman going west and one going east, to beat the fictional Phileas Fogg's Eighty Day journey around the world. But there was no sense of adventure or excitement, it was simply a travelogue, and the only suspense was whether the trains and steamships would arrive and leave on time. The westward journey of Bisland was a more enjoyable read, simply because she had an open mind and travelled with a positive attitude to all the new experiences she went through. Nellie Bly was the opposite, a bit of a snark, the eventual winner - a matter of record, not giving anything away here - but she was not an empathetic person. The book was well researched, with many interesting snippets of history throughout. A mini-bio of Pulitzer was of special interest, and the book gave a good over-view of the newspaper industry at the time.
What I would have really enjoyed is more personal detail about how Nellie Bly managed with no spare clothes. I suppose she didn't think this a worthy subject for her journal.
About page 300 I stopped reading and jumped straight to the Epiloque, one of the best parts, covering the rest of the two women's lives. Although I cannot rave about the book, they were certainly two very worthy subjects.
Carole A. (Denver, CO) (01/23/13)

Delightful Days
The few days I read this book were delightful! From beginning to end this book was interesting and enthralling. I have already recommended it to both of my book clubs for inclusion next year as well as to many friends. The research that went into the book and the weaving of the research into the story was, in my opinion, brilliant. The vivid descriptions of travel, people and the character of people was interesting well thought out. If nothing else women readers should appreciate how far women have come! This book is going into my list of favorites. Bravo to Matthew Goodman.
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