Matthew Goodman's story about Victorian women, Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland, in 1889, covers the rather interesting and sensationalist jo...moreSynopsis:
Matthew Goodman's story about Victorian women, Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland, in 1889, covers the rather interesting and sensationalist journalism story of two female reporters who set out to beat Jules Verne's fictional character, Phileas Fogg from "Around the World in Eighty Days", by circumnavigating the globe. When Nellie Bly, investigative journalist for Joseph Pulitzer's "World" newspaper first sets out, she believes that she is only attempting to defeat Phileas Fogg's record; unbeknownst to her, she is in a race against "The Cosmopolitan" magazine's female reporter Elizabeth Bisland as well.
As the two women battle to defeat Fogg's record and one another, the country finds itself captivated by the race and by two women who couldn't be more different from one another. One, Nellie Bly, was an ambitious and driven reporter from the coal mining country of Pennsylvania who was always embroiling herself into the most sensational news stories, many times disguising herself and going undercover to expose the true injustice of society. While Elizabeth Bisland hailed from an aristocratic Southern family and preferred to spend her time reading novels and poetry amongst her fellow literary and artist friends over reading a newspaper. Despite their differences in upbringing, reporting, and looks, both women were very talented women who had managed to create for themselves highly successful careers in a male driven society.
I first learned about "Eighty Days" after reading about it in the Sunday New York Times Book Reviews, I then finally came across the book sitting on the staff recommendation shelf at my local library as I was on my way to check out my other books. Once I got the book home and started reading it, I was not disappointed in the least. Not knowing anything about this true and exciting event in both US, Women's and journalistic history, I found myself captivated by the various events the two women found themselves embroiled in, all in an attempt to beat a fictional character's trip around the world while winning a huge monetary prize for their editors who had placed a bet on which of their female reporters would win in the end.
As I read the book, I knew that it was one I would want to own, and in deciding this returned the book and purchased it on my nook so I could make notes along the way. As someone who has spent much of her life traveling from a very young age, as well as having lived overseas twice before, I found various quotes resonating with me. One such quote was in regards to the American public traveling to foreign countries more and to go about doing so: "I think it best in traveling to see foreign countries slowly, but if anymore enterprising Americans desire to emulate Miss Bly's example it is much better to travel rapidly than not to travel at all." I couldn't agree with this statement more, as made by the Right Honorable Sir Mountstuart Grant Duff to "The World's" reporter Tracey Graves. The world is so vast and has so much to offer that it is a shame when people don't take advantage of traveling and getting to see all that's out there and to learn just how the rest of the world views the place from which they hail from.
Another statement which I found rang true in my experience of international travel and seeing how some people from the US act overseas was one made by Mary Cadwalader Jones in her book "European Travel for Women: Notes and Suggestions" in which she made the suggestion that "unless travelers are willing to leave national prejudices behind them, and ready to see whatever is characteristic and excellent in a foreign country, without finding fault because it is unfamiliar, they had better remain at home. Americans are among the worst offenders in this regard." This particular quote really made me laugh as the whole description of the "ugly American" is one which rang true in 1889 and continues to ring true today, over 100 years later.
Despite the success of the two women in their safe travels around the world, granted one did beat out the other in the endeavor, it was interesting to learn how much their lives were affected by their trip around the world and all of the attention that was heaped upon them. I couldn't help but both admire the women for their ability to travel the world during the Victorian age unescorted by men, and to feel sorry for them at the same time as the women found that they weren't able to completely able to return to the lives they had previously lived, for the career of female journalists was changing as a result of their escapade and they each suffered hardships but in different ways following their return.
In the end, I would recommend this to those who enjoy a good historical adventure story complete with strong minded, independent women who served as inspiration to women at a time when women didn't think they were capable of doing more than marrying and raising a family. This a book for people who enjoyed Verne's "Around the World in Eighty Days" and are interested in reading about a real life event in which someone tried to complete the same task in an age before travel would make this a concept hard to truly understand or appreciate in our day and age. And really, I recommend this book to those looking for their next great non-fiction read.
My final rating is a 4.5. Although I highly enjoyed this book and have recommended it to friends and family, there were a few parts where I found it dragged, thus it rating a 4.5 instead of a whole 5.(less)
I received this book as a first reads winner and I couldn't be happier with my win. "The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized...moreI received this book as a first reads winner and I couldn't be happier with my win. "The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars" tells the story of a love triangle which resulted in murder. The setting is New York, specifically Brooklyn where a headless torso washes up on the shore. In the meantime, another section of the body, also without any distinguishing features is discovered near a duck pond. As Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst's warring newspapers flock to the various scenes and tail the police throughout the city to track down the truth, and hopefully the head, sensationalism in the news is born between these rivals. With poignant front page titles on such subjects as "The Female Jack the Ripper", the public soon learns that the body belongs to one woman's lover who was killed by her other lover. During the course of the trial, the ever looming question of "who really killed Guldensuppe, his lover Agusta or her new lover?" reigns supreme.
"The Murder of the Century" illuminates for the reader both the time period of New York at the turn of the century as well as the birth of yellow journalism. For fans of other true crime stories such as Erik Larsen's "The Devil in the White City", as well as for fans of US history at the turn of the century, this is a must read.(less)
I loved how Larson combined the story of a serial killer luring young women to a place he had specially built for the task of murder while simultaneou...moreI loved how Larson combined the story of a serial killer luring young women to a place he had specially built for the task of murder while simultaneously discussing the events surrounding Chicago's World Fair. Having visited Chicago on many different occassions it was interesting to read this book and be able to picture the different places that were being talked about. I can't wait for the movie to come out, I'm sure Leonardo Dicaprio will do a wonderful job portraying Holmes.(less)