A bright, quick style and a cogent psychological and social analysis make this excellent biography of Elizabeth Cochrane of primary interest to anyone concerned with women, with newspapering and the world of the 1890's in particular. When she was eighteen, Elizabeth wrote her first letter to a newspaper, the Pittsburgh Despatch, and through it, persuaded its editor, Madden, to take her on as a reporter, an unheard of thing in those days. Because her stories were so controversial (her first two were on divorce and bad working conditions in a factory) Madden gave her the pen name of Nellie Bly by which she was to be known hence forth. Mentally and spiritually her stature was comparable to the importance of the stories that concerned her; she soon outgrew Pittsburgh. The Despatch and a limited if steady reputation were not enough. Nellie wanted to write only for the greatest of audiences- the readers of New York papers- and thither she went, to undergo an agony of derision and physical exhaustion before she was able to persuade Joseph Pulitzer to let her go to Blackwell's Island, posing as a crazy woman, to report on the life of the insane. She did it and won a position on the World which lasted most of the rest of her life. Alternately winning and losing the respect of her co-workers. Nellie lived a turbulent life as she was forced to deal not only with the exigencies of her work but with men, with herself as a woman, with broader social issues and with the opportunities her fame brought her. She did not always do all of these well but the now tragic, now thrilling record is an exacting tribute to a woman who was a newswoman and a crusader first and last.