Thursday, January 24, 2013

Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elzabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World by Matthew Goodman

In the late fall, early winter 0f 1889-1890, two young woman journalists each undertook a trip around the world. They set off only a few hours apart in opposite directions. While Elizabeth Bisland, a journalist for The Cosmopolitan magazine, knew of Bly's journey, Bly, herself was unaware of Bisland's equal quest to go around the world in under eighty days, attempting to beat the speed of Jules Verne's fictional traveler Phileas Fogg. Such a trip was originally the idea of Nellie Bly (pseudonym for Elizabeth Jane Cochran) a year earlier. She was an enterprising, investigative reporter for Joseph Pulitzer's New York newspaper, World. The paper's editor took Bly up on her idea and made the arrangements for her journey. She traveled alone, with only a small carry-all bag and one blue dress, a checkered coat and distinctive cap. She aimed to use only conventional, available forms of transportation. Upon learning of this project, the editor of The Cosmopolitan determined to make a race of it, sending Bisland off, with only a few hours notice, on a similar tour. but traveling west to east, the opposite of Bly's east to west route.

Little is now noted or remembered of this historic, remarkable undertaking by these two women. However, author Matthew Goodman has done a great job in bringing this story alive. Not only does he follow the progress of each, but he gives the reader the whole picture of the era, its personalities, customs, political and cultural tensions. He writes in an easy-flowing style. He carries the story of these two women beyond the time of the race to the end of their lives. This is a most approachable and enjoyable piece of non-fiction. The book is due out in March 2013.

No comments:

Post a Comment