The Stowaway: A Young Man's Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica

The Stowaway: A Young Man's Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica

The spectacular, true story of a scrappy teenager from New York’s Lower East Side who stowed away on the Roaring Twenties’ most remarkable feat of science and daring: an expedition to Antarctica.It was 1928: a time of illicit booze, of Gatsby and Babe Ruth, of freewheeling fun. The Great War was over and American optimism was higher than the stock market. What better momen...

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Title:The Stowaway: A Young Man's Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica
Author:Laurie Gwen Shapiro
Rating:

The Stowaway: A Young Man's Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica Reviews

  • Cynthia

    The Stowaway starts with a great opening and continues as a tightly written narrative. It's an entertaining non-fiction that reads like fiction. Plucky Billy Gawronski is a highly likable, smart-aleck, teenager who stows away on Admiral Byrd's ship to Antartica. What's special about this book is that I wanted to know more about Billy as he aged - he became a friend. Laurie Shapiro describes the many real individuals with a light, caring and amusing touch so that Billy's parents, teachers, and hi

    The Stowaway starts with a great opening and continues as a tightly written narrative. It's an entertaining non-fiction that reads like fiction. Plucky Billy Gawronski is a highly likable, smart-aleck, teenager who stows away on Admiral Byrd's ship to Antartica. What's special about this book is that I wanted to know more about Billy as he aged - he became a friend. Laurie Shapiro describes the many real individuals with a light, caring and amusing touch so that Billy's parents, teachers, and his pals in the coal room of Byrd's flagship all come joyously to life. She also tells the story in the context of the era, painting images of the Great Depression, sharing little known WWll exploits, and capturing Polish, Jewish and Black struggles to get ahead. All this is done in a straightforward, engaging manner. It's a short novel packed with a lot of fun. I would recommend it to most of my friends.

  • megs_bookrack

    The story of Billy Gawronski is one that I had never heard before but I feel like now, it will be one that I never forget. A true tale of perseverance and adventure. Young Billy dreamed of traveling to far off places and saw his dreams become a reality when the infamous Admiral Byrd planned an excursion from NYC, where Billy lived with his immigrant parents, to the

    The story of Billy Gawronski is one that I had never heard before but I feel like now, it will be one that I never forget. A true tale of perseverance and adventure. Young Billy dreamed of traveling to far off places and saw his dreams become a reality when the infamous Admiral Byrd planned an excursion from NYC, where Billy lived with his immigrant parents, to the last unknown frontier of Antarctica. Billy was willing to do anything to be a part of this expedition - including stowing away - which is exactly what he did.

    This book takes us on a journey to the far reaches of the earth filling in history, geography and science along the way. This is actually a fairly quick read for a nonfiction book - not as dense as many tend to be. Because of this fact, I would think this would be a great book for YA-readers, as well as adults. The Author's Note at the end sealed the 5-star review from me. If you read this book - make sure you read all the way through. I thank the publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read and share my thoughts on this amazing story!

  • Jennifer S. Brown

    What an amazing story about a young man who is a stowaway on then-Commander Byrd's Antarctic expedition in 1928. I normally gravitate toward fiction, but this book gripped me, and I read it in a single day. The balance between background/history and adventure story was perfect, and a clear picture, through Shapiro's use of great details, emerged of both the times and the exploits of the crew. I developed a real connection to Billy Gawronski (and also his poor, frightened mother!) and was happy w

    What an amazing story about a young man who is a stowaway on then-Commander Byrd's Antarctic expedition in 1928. I normally gravitate toward fiction, but this book gripped me, and I read it in a single day. The balance between background/history and adventure story was perfect, and a clear picture, through Shapiro's use of great details, emerged of both the times and the exploits of the crew. I developed a real connection to Billy Gawronski (and also his poor, frightened mother!) and was happy we followed him through the years. Definitely enjoyed this. An exciting read!

  • Valerity (Val)

    An enjoyable, well written and researched true story about a recent high school graduate Billy Gawronski, who fears being resigned to a life in his father's upholstery business, while he dreams of a life of adventure. He wants permission to go off and join his hero Admiral Richard Byrd who is about to embark on an expedition to Antarctica, but his father has refused, and now it's far too late to apply. He is determined to stow away if necessary, to get his place on this trip...and it leads to a

    An enjoyable, well written and researched true story about a recent high school graduate Billy Gawronski, who fears being resigned to a life in his father's upholstery business, while he dreams of a life of adventure. He wants permission to go off and join his hero Admiral Richard Byrd who is about to embark on an expedition to Antarctica, but his father has refused, and now it's far too late to apply. He is determined to stow away if necessary, to get his place on this trip...and it leads to a lifetime of lessons learned. A great story that reads like it was made up. Thanks for reading. An advance ecopy was provided by NetGalley for my review.

    Expected publication date is January 16, 2018 By Simon and Schuster

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    I enjoy reading nonfiction, and it’s a delight when I read nonfiction that feels like fiction. I would say this particular book feels mostly like fiction, but it is a bit on the detailed side. This worked perfectly for me, but I wanted to mention it for fiction fans who might be considering this book.

    What fascinated me from the start is I was yet again reading about the 1920s in the United States! I’ve read several books lately set during that

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    I enjoy reading nonfiction, and it’s a delight when I read nonfiction that feels like fiction. I would say this particular book feels mostly like fiction, but it is a bit on the detailed side. This worked perfectly for me, but I wanted to mention it for fiction fans who might be considering this book.

    What fascinated me from the start is I was yet again reading about the 1920s in the United States! I’ve read several books lately set during that interesting time. Billy Gawronski was a captivating figure. How exactly does an 18 year old manage to be a stowaway on one of the most famous expeditions? What will his parents think? Wait until you read the story of his endearing parents.

    Admiral Byrd, the leader of the expedition, was another absorbing character, as were the other captains of the ships. Also covered were past expeditions by Byrd and others, as well as the controversy surrounding them (i.e., did they really go to these places, or did they lie about their coordinates for the fame?).

    Polish culture, the struggles of the time for different races, the Great Depression, and many other important issues were covered revealing the context of what was happening around Billy.

    Billy was intelligent, resourceful, and persistent in making his enormous dream come true, and I absolutely loved him; however, his second wife and their story 💕 ended up stealing the show for me towards the end of the book. The Author’s Note that ties into that story is not to be missed!

    These days, instead of giant multi-ship expeditions, people take cruises to Antarctica. I admit I’ve thought about it. We love a cruise and a big adventure. 🚢 Luckily, there’s still much about Antarctica that’s left untouched and undiscovered. That’s special and so is this book. The Stowaway met my expectations for a thrilling adventure!

    Thank you to Laurie Gwen Shapiro, Simon & Schuster, and Netgalley for the complimentary ARC to review.

  • Diane S ☔

    3.5 review soon.

  • The Captain

    Ahoy there me mateys! Though this log’s focus is on sci-fi, fantasy, and young adult, this Captain does have broader reading tastes. So occasionally I will share some novels that I enjoyed that are off the charts (a non sci-fi, fantasy, or young adult novel), as it were. I received this non-fiction eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . .

    This novel was recommended by stephanie @ adventuresofabibliophile. The title and cover immediately captured me

    Ahoy there me mateys! Though this log’s focus is on sci-fi, fantasy, and young adult, this Captain does have broader reading tastes. So occasionally I will share some novels that I enjoyed that are off the charts (a non sci-fi, fantasy, or young adult novel), as it were. I received this non-fiction eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . .

    This novel was recommended by stephanie @ adventuresofabibliophile. The title and cover immediately captured me fancy. Stowaways and a ship! Arrr! It takes place in the 1920s which is a bonus. Also me adventurous ma is currently on a ship heading for Antarctica and penguins and cold! So it seemed appropriate to read about previous Antarctic explorers.

    While I prefer sunnier climes, I have always had a fascination for exploration stories of all kinds be it mountain climbin', island hoppin', or south pole ice scramblin'. As a younger lass I read about Shackleton, Darwin, and Cook's true life adventures. National Geographic magazine was a much loved publication. Equally beloved were the fictional survival stories like White Fang, Robinson Crusoe, and the Count of Monte Cristo. I continue to love these types of stories like recent reads castle of water and feel me fall (highly recommended).

    So I began to read this book about Billy Gawronski who was so obsessed with being a member of Byrd's crew that he was a stowaway on Byrd's ships not once but three times! His tenaciousness and pure grit to make it to Antarctica was endearing and fun. He wasn't the only one trying to secure a place on this expedition. Byrd was a crafty man and had thousands of candidates trying to obtain a non-paying berth on the voyage attempting to make American history.

    Overall I found this to be a more a story about the facts surrounding getting to and from Antarctica rather than what happened on Antarctica. It is a seemingly well-researched book. Much like in real life, Byrd really is the center of the story with Billy's portions as the more humanistic filler. The beginning of the book up until the establishment of Little America is the best part of the book though the story loses steam after that. In any case I found many of the tangential facts to be fascinating. Like how President Coolidge had a pancake breakfast with actresses in an attempt to bolster his election campaign. This book was a quick read that I enjoyed even if I thought it would be more about Billy's adventures in Antarctica.

    So lastly . . .

    Thank you Simon & Schuster!

    Check out me other reviews at

  • Faith

    In 1928, Billy Gawronski was the 17 year old son of a Polish immigrant family that once lived in the lower east side of Manhattan. He was looking for more adventure than he would find by joining his father's interior decorating business and he became obsessed with Antarctica. After repeated attempts, he managed to successfully stow away on one of the ships headed to Antartica as part of Richard Byrd's first expedition. I was expecting an adventure story but what I got was the biography of man wh

    In 1928, Billy Gawronski was the 17 year old son of a Polish immigrant family that once lived in the lower east side of Manhattan. He was looking for more adventure than he would find by joining his father's interior decorating business and he became obsessed with Antarctica. After repeated attempts, he managed to successfully stow away on one of the ships headed to Antartica as part of Richard Byrd's first expedition. I was expecting an adventure story but what I got was the biography of man who played a small role in the expedition, became a media darling, returned home, dropped out of college during the Depression and served in the Merchant Marine during World War II.

    I really don't know what the purpose of this book was. Why should I care about a biography of Billy's family? There is some name dropping of the famous people who lived in the Bayside Queens neighborhood to which the family had moved. We also learn who signed his yearbook. Really, who needs to know that? An additional factoid is that Billy had a high school girlfriend. None of this was at all interesting to me. The expedition doesn't even reach Antartica until the last third of the book. The explorers remained there uneventfully for a few pages and then they all returned home. This book was a big disappointment and I do not recommend it. I'm sure there are better books about the Byrd expedition. There probably aren't any other books about Billy, and there's a reason for that.

    I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

  • Andy Weston

    As a reader of almost anything that is polar discovery based, especially historical, I was really disappointed by this. It is the story of a young man, Billy Gawronski, Who stows away on Commander Byrd’s voyage of 1928 and mission to fly the first plane over Antarctica.

    Though Shapiro has done the necessary research, she fails in the ability to tell a story. It reads like a Wikipedia page. Inevitably I make comparisons to other recent polar discovery non-fiction, the tremendous

    As a reader of almost anything that is polar discovery based, especially historical, I was really disappointed by this. It is the story of a young man, Billy Gawronski, Who stows away on Commander Byrd’s voyage of 1928 and mission to fly the first plane over Antarctica.

    Though Shapiro has done the necessary research, she fails in the ability to tell a story. It reads like a Wikipedia page. Inevitably I make comparisons to other recent polar discovery non-fiction, the tremendous

    and meticulously put together

    , and it doesn’t even come close to them. One of the problems is that there isn’t enough in Billy’s story to merit such a book. Other than his stowing away, his brief time with the expedition is remarkably uneventful. For that reason Shapiro would have done much better writing this as fiction, and embellishing the story, which it certainly needs.

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