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

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  4,187 Ratings  ·  739 Reviews

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
Hardcover, 453 pages
Published February 26th 2013 by Ballantine Books
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Community Reviews

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Feb 24, 2013 Trish rated it really liked it
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
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
Dec 09, 2014 GoldGato rated it it was amazing
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. 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
Tamsien West (Babbling Books)
Nov 28, 2015 Tamsien West (Babbling Books) rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An engagingly told and meticulously researched true story of two women’s race around the world in 1889. I picked this unusual non-fiction book up after a recommendation from Maria Popova of Brain Pickings fame, and was not at all disappointed. Both Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland are fascinating character studies, and offer up a little window into life in 1890’s America – and indeed the rest of the world.

“This is a work of nonfiction. All of the dialogue in this book, and anything else between
May 30, 2013 Cheri rated it it was ok  ·  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
Dana Stabenow
Oct 10, 2013 Dana Stabenow rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
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
Jan 10, 2013 Melissa rated it liked it
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
Feb 01, 2013 Barbara Mitchell rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 27, 2013 Richard rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 09, 2013 Travis rated it it was amazing
"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
Teresa Mayfield
Dec 14, 2014 Teresa Mayfield rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 13, 2013 Kathrina rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
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
Aug 21, 2015 Teri-k rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
With great sadness I confine this book to the "duds" shelf. I'm a great admirer of Nellie Bly and other women like her who pursued their dreams in a time when their dreams weren't socially acceptable. And I love reading history, especially when it has interesting women in it. However, this book was such a chore to read - I had to force myself every few days to slog through another chapter or two. Very disappointing.

For one thing, this book couldn't decide what it wanted to be. Is it a detailed e
Apr 03, 2013 Jaylia3 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 01, 2014 Catherine rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
Jennifer D.
Jan 04, 2016 Jennifer D. rated it really liked it
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
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,
Jan 06, 2013 Ariel rated it liked it
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
Mar 21, 2013 Jane rated it really liked it
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
Perrin Pring
This book was the biggest disappointment of my year. I was super excited to read Eighty Days, but it took me TWENTY days to get through, which is crazy. I guess I'm lucky it wasn't eighty days.

The premise of this book is promising. In 1989 two woman reporters, who at the time got almost no respect or credibility from their male peers, set off on a race around the world, trying to outdo Jules Verne's Phileas Fogg's fictional eighty day record. Nellie Bly sets out first, thinking she is just racin
Aug 15, 2014 Faye rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 27, 2014 Tom rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 25, 2013 Lisa B. rated it it was amazing
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
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
Scott Foshee
Jan 29, 2013 Scott Foshee rated it it was amazing
I can't believe I haven't read about this amazing true adventure before. Done right, it would make an excellent feature film.

French author Jules Verne captured the imagination of the world upon the 1873 publication of his classic Around the World in Eighty Days. In 1889 acclaimed female journalist Nellie Bly of Joseph Pulitzer's World newspaper in New York City decided to take Verne's book as a challenge and set off to "break the record" of fictional Phileas Fogg for an around the world trip, wr
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
Laura Martinelli
As any history nerd would tell you, the adage that history is written by the victors is boring. Sometimes, the people who lost or ignored or forgotten by history are just as, or very often, more interesting than the figures we celebrate. Unfortunately, this not the case in this book.

There was a Tumblr post recently going around about Elizabeth Cochrane aka Nellie Bly, detailing her life and exploits as an investigative journalist, and a lot of the commentators mentioned that they had never heard
Adam Lee
Nov 20, 2013 Adam Lee rated it it was amazing
An epic historical adventure that's even more remarkable for being true!

In the last decade of the 19th century, two women reporters working for two different New York newspapers each set out to travel around the world as a publicity stunt. They began their trips at the same time, but in opposite directions, each of them trying to beat Jules Verne's fictional eighty-day record - and each other.

One was Nellie Bly, a scrappy investigative reporter from a Pennsylvania coal town, known for her underc
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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
More about Matthew Goodman...

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“A free American girl can accommodate herself to circumstances without the aid of a man.” -Nellie Bly” 1 likes
“If one is traveling simply for the sake of traveling,” Bly liked to say, “and not for the purpose of impressing fellow travelers, the problem of baggage becomes a very simple one.” 1 likes
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