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

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  3,303 ratings  ·  605 reviews
NATIONAL BESTSELLER

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
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Hardcover, 480 pages
Published February 26th 2013 by Ballantine Books
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West with the Night by Beryl MarkhamMy Journey to Lhasa by Alexandra David-NéelThe Valleys of the Assassins by Freya StarkStraight on Till Morning by Mary S. LovellEighty Days by Matthew Goodman
Trailblazing Women Adventurers
5th out of 207 books — 82 voters
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Female Biographies
138th out of 609 books — 209 voters


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Community Reviews

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Trish
This delightful popular history subtitled Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World is a fascinating account of the lives of two young female reporters in New York at the end of the nineteenth century. The story has much to recommend it: it could be read as a cautionary tale on the fleeting nature of celebrity, or a meditation on the twisting course of a life, or a history of women’s rights. It would be a great addition to the reading lists of teens since I feel sur ...more
Carol
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
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GoldGato
Dec 09, 2014 GoldGato rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 19-century history buffs, lovers of travel
What a blast! Tracing the around-the-world race between two female journalists in 1889, Matthew Goodman brings a dash of thrill and wonder to the event which makes it read as though it happened today. Jules Verne's famous story inspired the idea and two New York newspapers made it happen much to the delight of their absorbed readers.

...one could drift out on dreams that bring what life has failed to give...

The latter part of the nineteenth century brought forth a slew of new technologies which d
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Cheri
May 30, 2013 Cheri rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cheri by: Gina
Shelves: kindle
It was very hard for me to give this only 2 stars because I really WANTED to like it more. The story itself was interesting. It's not surprising that it's not something we learn about in school, basically we get 5 minute sound bites on most historical moments that aren't wars. But I feel this was a significant point in women showing they can do the same jobs men can do...sometimes even better.

No, it wasn't the story. It was the writing. This book could have easily been half the size if Matthew G
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Dana Stabenow
On November 14, 1889, muckraking reporter Nellie Bly left New York City on the first leg of a round-the-world race to beat Phileas Fogg's time of eighty days. Fogg, you will remember, was a fictional character created by French author Jules Verne. Bly would not know until she reached Hong Kong that she was also in a race with a real person, another American writer named Elizabeth Bisland. Bly had three days to get ready, Elizabeth about twelve hours, Bly was traveling east, Bisland west. Bly's t ...more
Melissa
I feel like Eighty Days had a completely promising starting point and through most of it was very enjoyable, but about 3/4 of the way through I almost couldn't take anymore. It felt like the author wanted the book to be one thing but didn't have enough material to get him there. A big part of my disappointment came every time he introduced a new person, method of travel, etc. He would go on for sometimes a full page about that new thing then go back into the story. The other issue I had was tha ...more
Barbara Mitchell
In the 1890s Jules Vernes' novel Around the World in Eight Days was popular. An ambitious young woman reporter for The World newspaper in New York suddenly thought she could possibly beat that record in real life, alone. She studied timetables and planned before approaching her boss and talking him into the journey. She would set out by ship from Hoboken, NJ and finish there in less than 80 days.

News of her race against time spread quickly. It inspired the editor of Cosmopolitan (which was a tot
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Richard
In an age when most people had yet to see a horseless carriage, two young women working for rival New York newspapers raced around the world in opposite directions as a publicity stunt. It worked. By the time they returned, largely unaware of the attention they had gathered, millions of people knew their names: Nelly Bly and Elizabeth Bishland.

Matthew Goodman's well written and well researched book lets you relive the adventure, eager to find out who won. This is a great summer read, especially
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Catherine
Damn, this book is good. The topic -- two female newspaper reporters (a rarity at the end of the 19th century) racing around the world against each other and against Jules Verne's fictional 80 day standard -- was enough to attract me. The careful research and fabulous writing make it one that I will highly recommend.

Goodman didn't fictionalize any of this. If it wasn't in Bly's or Bisland's memoirs or other original sources, it didn't go in the book. Using just the fact, he paints a vivid pictur
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Travis
"Eighty Days" borrows its title from the Jules Verne classic, which in 1890 inspired a young female journalist to persuade her editors at Pulitzer's "The World" to send her around the globe in an attempt to beat the fictional Fogg's record set in "Around the World in Eighty Days." This is one of those marvelous and engrossing books that opens your eyes to historical events which electrified the world at the time of their occurrence, but of which we now remember nothing. I love reading books that ...more
Tamara
This is not a terribly interesting book about what appears, actually, to have been not a terribly interesting event.

Bly and Bisland raced around the world in 1889 essentially as publicity stunts for rival newspapers. They were effective publicity stunts. People in 1889 thought it was totally cool. That's about it. Both trips appear to have been almost completely uneventful, cushioned by money and someone else doing a lot of the logistics.

Maybe the interesting take-away is that it was possible,
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Christopher Newton
Meticulously researched, vividly written, Goodman's book evokes a whole forgotten world -- 1889 America - as he tells this sweeping tale of the great race around the world to beat Phileas Fogg's fictional 80 day circumlocution -- and incidentally to build the New York World's circulation to over a million. Nellie was a huge pop star for a moment in time, then forgotten, as has been her genteel competitor, Elisabeth Bisland, sponsored by Cosmopolitan Magazine. I enjoyed this truly thrilling piece ...more
Jennifer D
this was such an enjoyable read - and a perfect book to read during the summer. i really liked being an armchair traveler with bly and bisland on their travels around the world. goodman did a great job presenting the race, and i appreciated that he also included historical context and sidebars on what was going on in the world in 1889 and 1890. as well, goodman provided brief looks at the women's lives post-race. i really did not know a lot about these women, or the race. even though i was aware ...more
Jane
Although I found some of the history very dry I enjoyed reading about the differences between the two ladies. Bly from Pennsylvania was brash and ambitious. Bisland from the South was the hostess to teas with discussions of poetry and literature. The idea to beat the Jules Verne character's 80 days around the world was Bly's and Bisland was a reluctant participant. Bly started by gooing east across the Atlantic and Bisland went west across America. And even though Bly may have won the "contest" ...more
Jaylia3
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 he ...more
Kathrina
The older I get, the more fascinated I become with the ways other people have lived their lives -- in foreign lands, through other political and cultural epochs, and through the ever-reaching telescope of history. As I mature, perhaps I'm taking greater ownership of my world, and a woman in 1880's New York City is not just a stock character, but a woman like me, a woman with ambitions and desires and opinions, who must also battle with corsets and marriage expectations, rather than high-heeled b ...more
Faye
I really loved this book! I'd never heard of this around-the-world-in-less-than-80-days race, which is strange in this age of celebrating every accomplishment women have made, so I was very excited to read it and not at all disappointed when I did. The author made it just as exciting and educational as it must have been for those who were following the race as it happened way back in 1889. Maybe even moreso - we modern readers are treated to many more behind-the-scenes anecdotes than readers of ...more
Teresa Mayfield
Once more I am surprised at the history I missed in school. But why should I be? In the epilogue to this wonderfully written historical account, Elisabeth Bisland is quoted as follows: “The record of the race, hitherto accepted as truth about ourselves, has been the story of facts and conditions as the male saw them – or wished to see them…No secret has been so well-kept as the secret of what women have thought about life” (Goodman, 2013, p. 364). Not to mention that even famous women and their ...more
Ariel
Thank you to Ballantine Books for providing me with a review copy of this novel.

I have loved Nellie Bly, intrepid girl reporter, ever since elementary school when I did a report about how she shed light on the way mentally ill people were being abused when she bravely went undercover as a psychiatric patient. Elizabeth Bisland on the other hand, never heard of her. According to the author Nellie was the spunky, miserable one and Elizabeth the refined elegant beauty. Elizabeth's attractive appea
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Tom
A true account of an exciting and suspenseful race around the world by two very remarkable women. The time is is 1889 and the goal is to better the time set by the fictional character Phileas Fogg of Jules Verne's AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS. The author Matthew Goodman does a splendid job of setting the scene and providing valuable information regarding people, places,and modes of living, all relative to the stories theme. Nothing is superfluous but all combines to give the reader a window i ...more
Lisa B.
My Thoughts

This was a fascinating read. Not only does the author cover the race, but he provides all kinds of information related to the time period: the status of women, methods of travel, background information on both Nellie and Elizabeth and the amazing obstacles each faced to meet their goal. At times I almost felt like I had been dropped right in the middle of the race itself, the writing was so detailed and descriptive.

Outstanding! I definitely will be reading more by Mr. Goodman.

My thank
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Lorraine
Eighty Days is a double narrative (nonfiction) about two brave women who in 1889 both set out on a race around the world in 75 days. The point of the trip was to beat the record of fictional Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne’s “Around the World in Eighty Days.” Bly was an investigative/undercover journalist for Pulitzer’s daily newspaper the World. Bisland wrote feature articles and book reviews for the monthly magazine Cosmopolitan. Neither one knew when they left that they were in competition and ra ...more
PopcornReads
Book Review & Giveaway: Matthew Goodman’s title says it all, Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History Making Race Around the World. This is a narrative nonfiction account about the attempt by two amazing women to outdo Jules Verne and each other in 1889, at a time when women just didn’t do this kind of thing. It’s an even more inspiring story because it’s true. Read the rest of my review & enter our giveaway for an ARC of this book as well as Around the World in Eighty Day ...more
Cheryl
In the last decade of the 19th century, Joseph Pulitzer, owner of The World newspaper in New York City, sent his young female reporter, Nellie Bly, on a trip to circumnavigate the globe. Female reporters were rare in those days, and a female traveling the world alone was almost unprecedented. Nellie Bly's assignment was to attempt to complete her trip in fewer than eighty days. This feat would break the record set by the fictional character of Phileas Fogg from Jules Verne's popular novel Around ...more
Leah Schaeffer
With close to 400 pages, Eighty Days being historical nonfiction; one might think it would take eighty days to complete reading it. But that is not the case! This book is an enjoyable and informative read. ......" on that picturesque veranda, Bly observed, one could "drift out on dreams that bring what life has failed to give, soothing pictures of imagination that blot out for a moment the stern disappointment of reality." And when those dreams faded away, she thought, one could drown out the si ...more
Wendy
If you ever stop in the town of Jerome, AZ, you will likely wander into the wonderful and curious kaleidoscope shop called "The Nellie Bly." Supposedly it is the "worlds largest" of such venues, and even features a handpained sign of the once-famous "world girdler" wearing with her signature checked coat and gripsack. I had heard of Bly mainly from her expose of a New York Psychiatric hospital, which was published by the World newspaper in 1887, and had wondered about her connection to a quaint, ...more
Carrie
Nellie Bly, a self-made female newspaper reporter in a male dominated field circa 1890 NYC, proposes to beat fictional character Phileas Fogg's trip around the world by completing the journey in under 75 days - by herself, unchaperoned. Scandal! Nellie has already made a name for herself in exposing the harsh conditions at a mental institution by getting herself committed to the hospital without a sure way for anyone to get her out. Brave girl, just my sort of character.

A rival newspaper gets wi
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Tiffany Reisz
Around the world in 380 pages!

I loved EIGHTY DAYS. I knew of Nellie Bly, the groundbreaking reporter from the late Victorian era. I had no idea she was also a world traveler who raced against the clock in an attempt to beat Jules Verne's fictional hero Phinneas Fogg around the world.

What Bly didn't realize until halfway around the world was that another woman had set off the very same day in an attempt to beat her.

The author Matthew Goodman does a great job of setting up the suspense of the ra
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Suzy
I was excited to get an audio copy of this book so quickly from the library. I was eager to learn more about a race around the world in 1889-1890 that had the public riveted at the time, but is little known today. This fascinating book focused on much more than the race around the world between Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland, two female journalists who set off to beat the fictional Phileas Fogg's 80 days in Jules Verne's classic book.

Nellie Bly was a spunky newspaper reporter from western Pen
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Doreen
Apr 17, 2013 Doreen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Diane, Iris, Sara, Jan F.
Recommended to Doreen by: read about it in Bookpages and snagged it at the library!
This is an amazing book. Filled with facts, the author includes us in the journeys of Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland. Through the pages, the two separate journeys overlap, providing a cohesive account of cities, meetings, ocean liners, and railways in the travels of these two female reporters.

This is most-admirably, a period piece. The author masterfully describes the world as it was in the late 1800's, thus providing a true, vivid picture for the reader. I could almost see Nellie Bly, in her
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Matthew Goodman is the bestselling author of three books of non-fiction.

His essays, articles, short stories, and reviews have appeared in The American Scholar, Harvard Review, Salon, the Village Voice, the Forward, Bon Appetit, and many other publications, and have been cited for Special Mention in the Pushcart Prize and Best American Short Story anthologies.

Matthew has taught creative writing an
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More about Matthew Goodman...
The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York Jewish Food: The World at Table Ochenta días. La gran carrera de Elizabeth Bisland y Nelly Bly, la vuelta al mundo que hizo historia Doctor Who: Dalek Collectible Figurine and Illustrated Book EAT, HEAL & BE MERRY: Stories of People Who Healed The All-Natural Way

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“A free American girl can accommodate herself to circumstances without the aid of a man.” -Nellie Bly” 1 likes
“After the period of sex-attraction has passed, women have no power in America.” -Elizabeth Bisland” 0 likes
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