The New Colossus

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Published by: Diversion Books
Release Date: March 25, 2014
Pages: 300
ISBN13: 978-1626812796

The New Colossus is a historical mystery set in 1880’s New York, with Nellie Bly, the first great female reporter, as the captivating protagonist.

Meticulously researched and blending fact with fiction, the story picks up just after Bly arrives in Manhattan at age 24 with her ailing mother, lacking connections or money but blessed with an abundance of courage and reportorial gifts. Within ten months she lands two front-page stories on the country’s most widely-read newspaper, Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World. The pugnacious and voluble Pulitzer is so impressed that he assigns her to get to the bottom of an event deeply troubling him (and later puzzling to historians)—the untimely death of his friend Emma Lazarus, the controversial poet and activist.

At first Bly is skeptical but comes to believe that Lazarus was indeed murdered. Her investigation leads to tense encounters with some of the most powerful and ruthless men of the time, in an era where elected officials are bought and sold, and where greed runs rampant on an unregulated Wall Street. Outgunned and ignoring her contemptuous all-male colleagues, she has only two real allies: a doctor who uses scientific techniques to establish criminal behavior, and a gay theater critic with unlimited access to underground New York. As the pieces fall into place Bly comes to identify with Lazarus and refuses to be deterred facing ever-increasing dangers. Can a fearless and talented reporter find the truth when powerful forces are doing everything they can to stop her?


I was fascinated by the 1880’s: the concentration of wealth in very few hands. New technology forcing much of the country out of work. Congressmen bought and sold. A Supreme Court indifferent to individual rights. Something about it seemed vaguely familiar.

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“Riveting, surprising, and daring, this story will make reader wish they knew—or could be—Nellie Bly. Goldberg plunges deeply into Gilded Age New York, when Liberty’s torch first lit the city’s darkest corners.”
—Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, author of Broken Promises, A Novel of the Civil War

“It is so filled with immaculately researched detail that the action springs to life with an authenticity that educates as it shocks and thrills. . . But most of all this is the portrait of remarkable woman who was creating a new role for women and journalism as she lived it day to day.”
—Bob Stevens, Co-Executive Producer, “The Wonder Years,” “Malcolm in the Middle”

“An utterly gripping story full of intrigue, duplicity, love and, of course, murder! Every character is so vivid, so memorable while also fitting so believably into the larger tapestry of New York politics and corruption in the historically fascinating year of 1888.”
—Elizabeth Anderson,  author of  Three Wishes

“A tour de force—a thriller full of unforgettable characters and surprising twists and turns, made all the more powerful by the author’s scrupulous adherence to historical accuracy.”
—Gregg Oppenheimer, author of Laugh, Luck… and Lucy: How I Came to Create the Most Popular Sitcom of All Time

“Goldberg’s gift is his ability to spin a web of “what-if” relationships among the powerful of the era, the men who built New York’s banks, train systems, and harbors.”
—Laurie Becklund, author of Swoosh

“By just a few pages into the book I had forgotten that I was reading a novel and instead felt I was truly back in the 1880’s, walking around and listening to people talk. . . Bottom line, The New Colossus is extremely well-written and works splendidly at taking you back in time. You’ll enjoy the trip.”
—Charles Rosenberg, author of Death on a High Floor, Long Knives

Reviews & Articles

The Vineyard Gazette calls The New Colossus “…crackling, fast-paced historical fiction…” Read “Putting Gothic in Gotham, Even Lady Liberty Is Not Safe.”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette interviews Marshall. Click here to read “Patricia Sheridan’s Breakfast With … Marshall Goldberg”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette — hometown of both Marshall and Nellie Bly — reviews The New Colossus, calling it “addictive and suspenseful” and with “plenty of surprises to make your jaw drop.” Read “Huddled masses: Marshall Goldberg’s ‘The New Colossus’ mixes fact and fiction, with Nellie Bly on the case.”



Chapter One

The elegant young woman in the emerald bustle dress shivered as the police steamer made its way up the East River toward Blackwell’s Island. The temperature hovered around freezing, and a soupy mist made the winter air feel even colder, but the real source of her trembling lay in their destination: the Bellevue Asylum, New York’s
only hospital for the insane. The other nine women aboard shared her fears. One with raspberry blotches all over her face and a grayish-yellow fungus on her scalp babbled incessantly and pulled out tufts of her hair near the roots. Another with a high fever ranted incoherently. A third seemed perfectly normal and pleaded to be returned to shore, but spoke only French. The young woman tried to engage several of the women in conversation, but the policeman who kept eying her told her to be quiet, patting his billy club to show he meant it.

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