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On this morning in 1889, Nellie Bly set off.
Jules Verne did not believe that this pretty little woman could circle the globe by herself in less than eighty days.
But Nellie put her arms around the world in seventy-two, all the while publishing article after article about what she heard and observed.
This was not the young reporter’s first exploit, nor would it be the last.
To write about Mexico, she became so Mexican that the startled government of Mexico deported her.
To write about factories, she worked the assembly line.
To write about prisons, she got herself arrested for robbery.
To write about mental asylums, she feigned insanity so well that the doctors declared her certifiable. Then she went on to denounce the psychiatric treatments she endured, as reason enough for anyone to go crazy.
In Pittsburgh when Nellie was twenty, journalism was a man’s thing.
That was when she committed the insolence of publishing her first articles.
Thirty years later, she published her last, dodging bullets on the front lines of World War I.
Copyright 2015 Eduardo Galeano. Reprinted by permission of TomDispatch.
Excerpted from Eduardo Galeano’s Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History published by Nation Books.
— Nellie Bly