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  • Eighty Days

  • Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World
  • By: Matthew Goodman
  • Narrated by: Kathe Mazur
  • Length: 18 hrs and 57 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Eighty Days

By: Matthew Goodman
Narrated by: Kathe Mazur
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Summary

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, Elizabeth Bisland. Each woman was determined to outdo Jules Verne’s fictional hero Phileas Fogg and circle the globe in less than eighty days. The dramatic race that ensued would span 28 thousand miles, captivate the nation, and change both competitors’ lives forever.

The two women were a study in contrasts. Nellie Bly was a scrappy, hard-driving, ambitious reporter from Pennsylvania coal country who sought out the most sensational news stories, often going undercover to expose social injustice. Genteel and elegant, Elizabeth Bisland had been born into an aristocratic Southern family, preferred novels and poetry to newspapers, and was widely referred to as the most beautiful woman in metropolitan journalism. Both women, though, were talented writers who had carved out successful careers in the hypercompetitive, male-dominated world of big-city newspapers. Eighty Days brings these trailblazing women to life as they race against time and each other, unaided and alone, ever aware that the slightest delay could mean the difference between victory and defeat.

A vivid real-life re-creation of the race and its aftermath, from its frenzied start to the nail-biting dash at its finish, Eighty Days is history with the heart of a great adventure novel. Here’s the journey that takes us behind the walls of Jules Verne’s Amiens estate, into the back alleys of Hong Kong, onto the grounds of a Ceylon tea plantation, through storm-tossed ocean crossings and mountains blocked by snowdrifts twenty feet deep, and to many more unexpected and exotic locales from London to Yokohama. Along the way, we are treated to fascinating glimpses of everyday life in the late 19th century - an era of unprecedented technological advances, newly remade in the image of the steamship, the railroad, and the telegraph. For Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland - two women ahead of their time in every sense of the word - were not only racing around the world. They were also racing through the very heart of the Victorian age.

©2013 Matthew Goodman (P)2013 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

“What a story! What an extraordinary historical adventure!”(Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire)
“Vividly imagined and gorgeously detailed, Eighty Days recounts the exhilarating journey of two pioneering women, Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland, as they race around the globe. Matthew Goodman has crafted a fun, fast, page-turning action-adventure that will make you wish you could carry their bags.” (Karen Abbott, author of American Rose)
“What a delight to circumnavigate the globe with pioneering journalists Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland. The two women carve out an adventurous path in a constrained Victorian world that cares as much about their marriage prospects and the number of trunks they pack as about their trailblazing career aspirations. Matthew Goodman’s lively writing and detailed research bring the story of these two remarkable women to life as they race around the world, full steam ahead, giving us an intimate look at a late-nineteenth-century world that is suddenly shrinking in the face of rapid technological change. Only one of these two remarkable women can win the race around the world, but the reader of this fascinating tale will be certain of a reward.”(Elizabeth Letts, author of The Eighty-Dollar Champion)

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Absolutely astonishing!

This is one of the best listens ever. These 2 women were ground breaking from so many angles and mostly unknown today which is so sad. I loved the deep details of the enormous trips and the cultures from such a long time ago. Highly recommend!!!

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Past cast

Start with chapter five if you want to skip the talking about the trip and get on with the trip

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Profile Image for Susan Gardner Bowers
  • Susan Gardner Bowers
  • 18-03-13

Who knew?

Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World, by Matthew Goodman is a darn good story, full of little known facts, offering a more than a snapshot of late nineteenth century America and the journalism and prejudices of the time, and providing a bit of a cautionary tale.

While the story of Nelly Bly’s “race” around the world is the center of the book, there's good context provided of the run-up to the event. Indeed, much of the meat of the book is life after the race. I hadn't known about Elizabeth Bisland (who’s actually a much more likable character – especially in the sense that I’d have liked to have been like her).

PS: Nelly did the trip with but one dress. Elizabeth a good bit more!

There are beautiful descriptions of the places that Nelly and Elizabeth visit and an interesting perspective on how steam power (ships and trains) changed the world so quickly.

Much of the book takes place after the race, and does drag a bit; there’s some repetition and the book could probably have been edited a little more firmly, but the way it addresses celebrity, and its impact on Nelly Bly’s life, is thought-provocative. B+

6 people found this helpful

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Profile Image for Diane
  • Diane
  • 24-03-13

Historical and interesting for sure!

What did you love best about Eighty Days?

I found that I was surprised most how the world around me has changed so much from 1883 to now.....and how these two women lived, whether at home or abroad. How lucky I am.

What did you like best about this story?

I loved hearing about the foreign countries and thier customs, etc.

What does Kathe Mazur bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Well, it's more of a first hand account, rather than just a news story.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I didn't have an extreme reaction, but they certainly were much more brave about thier undertaking than I would be even in the present day. I neither laughed nor cried, I was more surprised at thier gumption! And some of the people they spoke with...Mr & Mrs Jules Verne and Mr. Pulitzer among others. A very interesting book, for sure!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Kearn D. Reif
  • 25-09-17

Great women

As I listened to this book, I was amazed at the careers both women had and upset with myself for not knowing at least Nelly Bly. I started researching both women on the net during and after reading this book. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to any historical fans.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Lucy
  • 09-03-13

Mediocre and Long

I didn't love this book although I really wanted to. The author seemed more interested in the general history of the time than in his main story line. There were far too many segues and non-sequitors for my liking, and there was something in the tone that made me think the author strongly disliked his subjects. At the end of the day this is too long to be worth picking up as a filler and probably not worth reading for fun.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Sara
  • 18-03-14

Love the story - Unsung heroines

If you could sum up Eighty Days in three words, what would they be?

Adventurous. Informative, Entertaining

Who was your favorite character and why?

Nellie Bly - Reminds me of myself but with more gutts.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Kathe Mazur?

Yes

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When she met with Jules Verne in France

Any additional comments?

Good Read!

1 person found this helpful

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  • ZiggyZ
  • 05-01-14

Engaging and interesting

I read a lot of history, especially American history, but I was barely aware of Nellie Bly and her story until I read this book. I really enjoyed reading it. An easy and engaging listen.

1 person found this helpful

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  • A. Moren
  • 01-07-13

Disappointed

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I would not recommend to a friend. There was so much potential for this book. Excellent subject matter! I really had to concentrate to stay interested in the book. It was so dry. I think it could have been terrific if told in the first person by each woman. The things these woman saw was described adequately. What was missing for me was the emotion they felt.

Can you imagine how excited, terrified, liberated, angry, fortunate they must felt? I wanted to hear about how they felt as they saw these things. And they were two totally different woman who had 2 totally different experiences. I could not remember which woman's trip was being told. They both sounded exactly the same, outside of physical location.

Because this story never reached into their brains, I felt bored. It was more of a travel log than a story. I didn't feel any desire to be these woman, know them or lived in the period. To me, that makes a historical novel a success, I should wish I could have been right there. With this book, I just kept checking to see how much time I had left to be done.

Would you ever listen to anything by Matthew Goodman again?

Nope.

What about Kathe Mazur’s performance did you like?

I would not have even finished the book except for her pleasant performance.

Could you see Eighty Days being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

Yes, it would be better as a movie than it was a book. A director would give the woman some emotion and opinions.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Walter Bracken
  • 22-09-22

Eighty Days, history, biographical, very interesting facts, funny stories, sadness, winner and almost winners. Loved it!

I read it and enjoyed learning so many interesting things. I later decided to listen while I exercised. I found myself excitedly looking forward to my favorite parts. Above all, this is a fun book to read.

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  • just asking for some common sense
  • 26-04-22

Two young journalists race around the world

As a fan of Jules Verne I was interested in this title and just had to get it. I knew of Nellie Bly, but had never heard of Elizabeth Bisland. Nellie Bly started off, trying to do the trip in 75 days, and Bisland's boss sent her off 9 hours later. One headed east, the other west. Who will arrive first? I made sure not to look anything up so it could be a total surprise.

Both women were traveling alone and both hit some bumps along the road. I had expected Bly to want to do more investigations and writing on the trip than she did, but she was more focused on her journey. I have great respect for both her and Bisland because traveling alone is dangerous. What an adventure!

I give this 4 stars because it needs a little editing. It really could be about 20% shorter I think. A journey around the world should read a little more exciting. The narration is 5 stars - well done!

I wish that Audible would add PDFs with the photos and map. I'm going to borrow the ebook from the library to look at them.

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  • Sarah S.
  • 18-03-17

detailed and beautiful story

this book is very long, but describes in beautiful detail, the excitement of adventure in traveling around the world to beat the clock before the invention of planes, or phones. Two women, who travel alone, when women were not thought of highly. There is adventure, but also a complete biography of both women. I loved it.