Synopses & Reviews
The spectacular, true story of a scrappy teenager from New York’s Lower East Side who stowed away on the Roaring 20s’ 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 moment to launch an expedition to Antarctica, the planet’s final frontier? There wouldn’t be another encounter with an unknown this magnificent until Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon.
Everyone wanted in on the adventure. Rockefellers and Vanderbilts begged to be taken along as mess boys, and newspapers across the globe covered the planning’s every stage. And then, the night before the expedition’s flagship set off, Billy Gawronski — a mischievous, first-generation New York City high schooler desperate to escape a dreary future in the family upholstery business — jumped into the Hudson River and snuck aboard.
Could he get away with it?
From the soda shops of New York’s Lower East Side to the dance halls of sultry Francophone Tahiti, all the way to Antarctica’s blinding white and deadly freeze, Laurie Gwen Shapiro’s The Stowaway takes you on the unforgettable voyage of a plucky young stowaway who became a Jazz Age celebrity, a mascot for an up-by-your bootstraps era.
“Shapiro has rescued from oblivion a wondrous tale of exploration. The Stowaway is a thrilling adventure that captures not only the making of a man but of a nation.” David Grann, bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon
“The Stowaway proves that fact is stranger and funnier and more amazing than fiction. Laurie Gwen Shapiro artfully draws the reader into the tale of Billy Gawronski, a dreamer and adventurer. Through the wild story of his travels to Antarctica, we see history come vividly to life.” Susan Orlean, bestselling author of Rin Tin Tin
“Laurie Gwen Shapiro wrote The Stowaway like a Jack London novel: with a sense of adventure, wonderful detail, a lineup of intriguing characters, and above all a great story. This is the best of nonfiction.” Mark Kurlansky, bestselling author of Paper
“What has the world come to when sled dogs and short wave radio mix, when wooden sailing barks compete with aeroplanes, when ‘Eskimos’ figuratively dance with flappers, and all of this is captured and disseminated by the first public relations hucksters? Laurie Gwen Shapiro’s The Stowaway is magnificent.” Bob Drury and Tom Clavin, bestselling authors of The Heart of Everything That Is
“The Stowaway tells one of the most engaging, but forgotten, stories from the Age of Exploration. A fascinating and charming book — I highly recommend it!” Douglas Preston, bestselling author of The Lost City of the Monkey God
About the Author
Laurie Gwen Shapiro is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist. The Stowaway is her first full-length work of nonfiction.
Laurie Gwen Shapiro on PowellsBooks.Blog
Finding just the right story for a book was my New Year’s resolution in 2013. I just didn’t know where to look. But I’ve always loved writing about my neighborhood — Manhattan’s historic Lower East Side, where I grew up and still live — and so I was happy to be assigned a small magazine piece on Polish classes at St. Stanislaus, a local Roman Catholic church...