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

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3.55  ·  Rating details ·  720 ratings  ·  152 reviews
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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Hardcover, 256 pages
Published January 16th 2018 by Simon Schuster (first published January 15th 2018)
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3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  720 ratings  ·  152 reviews


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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
4 adventurous, Antarctic stars to The Stowaway

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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Faith
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
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 In The Kingdom O
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Diane S ☔
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 review soon.
Cynthia
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
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 ...more
The Captain
Jan 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
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Jennifer S. Brown
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
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 ...more
megs_bookrack
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs-read
'Wherever you're from, there's always somewhere more exciting.'

Excellent - a rollicking, fun ride to the edge of the earth and back!


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
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Marika
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In 1928, Admiral Richard Byrd decided to explore the unknown..the Antarctica. At that time going to Antarctica was the last frontier to conquer on earth and just the idea of his attempting this voyage was the stuff of legends. Thousands of men and women wanted to be a part of Byrd's adventure, and even members of the Rockefeller and Vanderbilt family begged to be allowed to come along.
Then you meet Billy Gawronski, a 17 year old from New York who was so desperate to be a part of that he jumped
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LibraryCin
3.75 stars

Billy Gawronski’s parents immigrated from Poland to New York. He grew up wanting to be a sailor, and at 17, though his Dad wanted him to take over his successful interior design business, Billy stowed away on a ship belonging to his hero, Richard Byrd. Byrd had planned to be the first to fly over the Atlantic, but Lindberg just barely beat him to it. Instead, Byrd decided to head to Antarctica by ship, then to be the first to fly to the South Pole. Billy wanted to be part of it all.

Th
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Karen Kay
Wow, Billy Gawronski had pluck.

3.25 ☆
Donna Hines
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Extraordinary! Exquisite! A spectacular true account of a young NY boy Billy Gawronski and his determination to make a name for himself on an expedition that would go down in history as one of the greats.
I'm in awe of this story as I've never heard about the Stowaway and was mesmerized by this story. A remarkable feat considering the roaring 20's and early 30's during The Great Depression , Prohibition and the ending of the Great War.
Everyone wanted to have their hand in this media frenzy from t
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Bonnye Reed
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
GNab Laurie Gwen Shapiro has done an exquisite job of bringing to life the times and trials of that Polish stowaway 'Billy' Gawronski. Her author's note following this work, telling of the steps and luck involved in uncovering the story of the life of this stowaway is as extraordinary as the tale itself. This is a book I was not able to put down.

Every decision Billy makes, from the approach most hidden while swimming through the dark port waters in the small hours to stow away on the 'City of Ne
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Kathy
Feb 03, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Looking at the other reviews, I am definitely in the minority with regards to this book!

I am a big fan of historical books; I find learning about other time periods and how life was then fascinating. I am also a big fan of biographies because I love the feeling of getting to know a person, seeing what shaped their life. Putting the two together, I thought The Stowaway would carry me away with young Billy on his adventure to travel with Admiral Byrd to the South Pole. A sure fit, I thought. I can
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Melanie
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Adventures change you. Let's say, I have never been one to have looked out new adventures. I am that girl who prefers not to have surprises, and to have complete control over my life. I have definitely never been an adventure-junkie.

I am still not, but I have learned to appreciate change and recognize that, without it, your life will be dull, you will never learn to take what life throws at you, and you never grow. A few years ago, I went to Costa Rica. My husband is completely the opposite from
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Luanne Ollivier
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not a winter person at all. But a recent cold, blustery week seemed like the perfect setting to listen to Laurie Gwen Shapiro's latest book - The Stowaway: A Young Man's Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica.

While adventures and tales can by imagined by authors, sometimes the most intriguing and captivating stories are those plucked from real life. Such is the case of Billy Gawronski. In 1928, Billy was a seventeen year old high school student. Explorer Richard Byrd was putting together an
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Julie
Sep 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the wonderfully written true story about William "Billy" Gawronski, a young man who longs to go to Antarctica with Admiral Byrd who had a soft spot in his heart for stowaways. After 3 attempts to hide on the boat, he has been allowed to stay and work on one of the ships on the trip doing odd jobs. Shapiro does very nice job writing about Gawronksi through his life and highlighting the time period which included the beginning of the Great Depression that rocks Gawronski’s life and the liv ...more
William Matthies
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
A true story about a teenager who repeatedly attempted to stowaway on the late 1920's Admiral Byrd expedition to Anartica. As author Shapiro says, "Everyone wanted in on the adventure". If you, like me, are a sucker for non-fiction adventure stories, you'll enjoy this book.
Vicki
Feb 10, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was not what I thought it would be. I love true life adventure stories and was very excited to listen to The Stowaway. I wanted to go along with Billy to Antarctica, and experience all he did. Sadly, the book did not give me that. I thought the book started out good. We learned about Billy, his parents, and his attempt to stowaway on the trip to Antarctica. We were told how he did this, how he was discovered, and then most of the book was focused more on other people and facts leading ...more
Joe Jones
Billy Gawronski wanted something more than just working in the family business in late 1920's New York City. He had a dream of adventure and exploration. Richard Byrd's planned trip to Antarctica was just the ticket and nothing was going to stop Billy from joining the crew. Even if he had to stowaway. More than once! A fascinating tale I knew nothing about brought to life. And what a life Billy led. History buffs, adventure fans, and those just looking for a real life story of someone achieving ...more
Allen Adams
http://www.themaineedge.com/adventure...

What would you be willing to do to gain the opportunity to experience an adventure of a lifetime? What risks would you take to take part in something historic? How far would you go? Would you travel to the ends of the earth?

For Billy Gawronski, the answer to that last question was “Yes.”

Young Billy is the star of Laurie Gwen Shapiro’s new book “The Stowaway: A Young Man’s Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica.” It’s the true story of a teenager who wanted
...more
Leah
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, kindle
2 stars might be generous. This was disappointing. There was so much random details NOT about Billy. I don't really need to know all 39 Boy Scout merit badges about one of the crew members. Felt like the author was just filling space to make a book.
Gaynor
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Born into one of the most exciting and dramatic era’s in history, the sense of ambition and innovation of the 1920s is not lost on 17 year old Billy Gawronski. The author depicts the era well and brings to life the history of Billy’s family and the events leading up to his standing on the Hoboken dockside, gazing upon the soon to set sail ‘City of New York’, and hatching an outlandish plan to stow away to the South Pole. Suitable for readers young and old alike, this young man’s extraordinary ad ...more
Angela Hursh
Jan 09, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm glad I choose this nonfiction adventure tale as my first book of 2019. If you loved Radium Girls, or if you love real-life adventure stories, you'll enjoy this. It's short and does a great job of covering the story in historical context without being boring at all.
M Carmichael
Jan 28, 2019 rated it liked it
good book, breazy recount of the age of "men of adventure." struck by how poorly we look in comparison.....we dont do great things anymore, we dont explore, we dont discover. we are not curious as a generation. admiral byrd's famous quote haunts me: " “I paused to listen to the silence....."
Laura Chase
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
enjoyed it! Loved the tenacisiosness of Billy and his spunk
Dramatika
Feb 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Rather disappointing book stretched too thin to provide any real story of the one in a lifetime time adventure of young man. It is just not that interesting, at least not enough for a whole book. It would probably work better as a collection of stories on various stowaways and other unlikely participants of the Arctic exploration. Billy was the young boy, dreaming of adventure, as many other people were at that time. Arctic exploration was all the rage at that time around the world. Why author c ...more
Jacob
I received a free copy of this book through The Goodreads Giveaway program.

The Stowaway: A Young Man's Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica delivers on its title. It is an account of the frequently misspelled adventures of Billy Gawronski determination to be part of Richard Byrd's 1928 Antarctic exploration expedition. Gawronski manages to be part of this adventure by stowing away, not once but three times. He succeeds and gets to be part of the experience, but does not winter over with the m
...more
Carol Taylor
Jul 11, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked Stowaway but I can only give it three stars because it was hard for me to read more than five or ten pages at a time. The beginning was fascinating as I was learning about this very motivated boy who is determined to get on one of Byrd's ships to go to the Antarctic. However, I lost interest once he was established as a crew member on the ship. The author's notes at the end are very interesting. She was lucky enough to track down his widow who had kept everything Billy collected. You mig ...more
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Laurie Gwen Shapiro is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist whose writing has appeared in The New Yorker, New York, Daily Beast, Slate, Aeon, The Forward, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. The Stowaway is her first full-length work of nonfiction.