Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Nellie Bly's Book: Around the World in 72 Days based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
This is an abridged version of Bly¿s book about her trip in 1889-1890, but it¿s a decent length at 117 pages and definitely worth reading, since the full version is so hard to locate. It¿s lively, and even though the necessity for speed made some sections of it ¿ especially about Europe where transportation was more efficient ¿ unavoidably brief, there¿s still plenty of fascinating descriptions in it. I¿ve quite enjoyed the author¿s personable tone. For instance, she writes about the necessity to get up early enough to make it for the 9:40 ship out of New York: ¿Those who think that night is the best part of the day and that morning was made for sleep, know how uncomfortable they feel when for some reason they have to get up with ¿ well, with the milkman¿. I thought lazily that if some of those good people who spend so much time trying to invent flying machines would only devote a little of that same energy towards promoting a system by which boats and trains would always make their start at noon or afterwards, they would be of greater assistance to suffering humanity.¿ Sure, it¿s not a practical proposal, and anyway most people don¿t travel so often as to make it so much of an inconvenience to humanity, but for someone whose organism operates on the same schedule as Bly¿s it¿s gratifying to see somebody describe one¿s discomfort with the way the world generally operates as perfectly natural and reasonable. Bly¿s book provides a window into a world of long ago in ways not covered in history books. For instance, she mentions how, when she wanted to send a telegram to New York from Italy, the operator asked her where New York is. And when she was onboard of a ship bound for Sri Lanka, the British passengers asked her what the American flag looked like. Freezing on an overnight train ride through Italy, Bly envied the people who had taken this trip the previous week and had been attacked by bandits, which must have helped ¿to make their blood circulate.¿ But improving technology was already helping make the world safer, and Bly lamented that the pirates who used to ply the seas around the Straits of Malacca were no longer there to enliven the tedium of the sea voyage.Her other descriptions, on the other hand, proved surprisingly contemporary. For instance, she mentions how a priest at a Buddhist college in Sri Lanka told her that he received hundreds of letters from the USA every year and that they found more converts there than anywhere else. Bly also noted repeatedly how the USA stood out in not allowing people to smoke in confined public spaces, such as trains ¿ but back then it was out of consideration for women rather than out of health concerns. There were places, however, when her references to the common knowledge of her day were lost on me, and the editor, usually generous with footnotes, didn¿t provide any on these occasions. For example, when Bly was in London, the correspondent for her newspaper there asked her how she found London streets in comparison with New York. ¿`They are not bad,¿ I said with a patronizing air, thinking shamefacedly of the dreadful streets of New York, although determined to hear no word against them.¿ I wonder what was so dreadful about the New York streets of the time, compared to those of London. On another occasion, when Bly wasn¿t allowed to enter a Hindu temple in Singapore because she was a woman, she was ¿curious to know why my sex in heathen lands should exclude me from a temple, as in America it confines me to the side entrances of hotels and other strange things.¿ I found it extremely strange indeed that a woman in America couldn¿t use a hotel¿s main entrance and wondered what other strange things Bly may have been referring to. Nellie Bly had made an excellent observer: curios, indefatigable (she chose to leave the ship for an excursion in Yemen despite the 100 degrees heat) and unbiased. For example, although she was clearly patriotic and considered republi