The Stowaway

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 16 Jan 2018

Member Reviews

I finally finished reading this book a couple of days. It took me almost a month to get through it. (I might have taken a break from it for a few days.) The story behind this book is that the author Laurie Gwen Shapiro discovered the name William "Billy" Gawronski-or as it was often misspelled, Gavronski-in records related to the Antarctic expedition in 1928. This book is the result of all the research she did. When I read the description of the book I actually thought it was a fictional character set in real historic times, places and events. I was so surprised to learn that it was really a biography! I thought the historic facts of Billy's story were interesting and...

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Absolutely fascinating story and well written. I often lose attention during non-fiction, but was engaged throughout this book. I will be recommending it to lots of people I know.
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I received a free Kindle copy of The Stowaway by Laurie Gwen Shaprio courtesy of Net Galley and Simon and Shuster, the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would post a review to Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and my nonfiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus pages.

I requested this book as I the subject of the book sounded interesting. This is the first book by Laurie Gwen Shapiro that I have read.

While the subtitle of the book, "A Young Man's Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica", gives an overview of the contents, it covers more than that. The main focus is on William...

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❄️ 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 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...

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Billy stayed awake hours into the night, guessing the right moment to jump off the pier

In THE STOWAWAY, author Laurie Gwen Shapiro tells the incredible story of determined stowaway Billy Gawronski, who actually made it all the way to Antarctica. Billy didn’t really have much of a plan--he would just appeal to the mercy of Commander Byrd, who reportedly, “liked stowaways.”

For his first attempt, Billy swam to the ship “covered in river scum, hair hanging down his forehead like oily kelp.” To his astonishment, Billy found that he was one of three stowaways!

On his second attempt, Billy tried for a cargo ship, believing it would be “less guarded than the flagship had been.” He was...

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This well-researched adventure tale reads like a “Boy’s Own” story.  Billy Gawronski, a skinny New York Pole just graduated from high school, makes an almost desperate grab for a life of adventure by stowing away on Byrd’s first Antarctic expedition.  

Shapiro didn’t meet Gawronski, but she met his widow and sons, and did an immense amount of reading and traveling to write this book.  That research shows in the vivid stories of life on ship and in the Antarctic.  An engrossing read.
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This is the story of seventeen-year-old Billy Gawronksi, a stowaway (after a few attempts) on the ship Eleanor Bolling that followed Admiral Richard Byrd’s flagship to Antarctica. In the late 1920s, Byrd-mania had swept through America, igniting the imaginations of youth in New York City where his ships were docked before his grand polar adventure. Young Billy was not going to fall victim to a sad existence of life working in his father’s upholstery business. He was going to have a life of adventure, and nobody was going to thwart him. Billy’s chutzpah was without parallel, and his derring-do earned him a spot on the unknown continent.

Shapiro provides enough biographical information to...

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I really enjoyed this book on the exploration of Antarctica. I've read many books on polar exploration, and this book does something unique. It tells the tale, not only from the viewpoint of the expedition leader, but a minor player on the expedition as well. The book focuses on this stowaway, who gives his all to be part of Byrd's second expedition to Antarctica. This person was someone many could relate too, and hearing his story really helped me stay engaged in the story.

The Stowaway's story is paralleled by Byrd's story, but not in the typical fashion of exploration history text. Rather it focuses on the marketing and publicity around the expedition.

Another...

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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...

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Ms. Shapiro brought this amazing story to life. It reads like fiction, but it's not. No stuffy professor, boring, dust ridden, dry reading here. Billy is someone I admire. The guy had chutzpah! I'll confess to being a bit envious. There are oftentimes that I wish I had discovered my love of the Northern Arctic much earlier in life. Would it have made a difference? Ach, probably not. Thankfully I have fantastic books like this. If you like tale of the north or south regions, and adventure then this is a recommended read.
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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 New York' and trying to talk his young 17 year old self into becoming a member of the crew on the first American expedition to Antarctica under the direction of Commander Byrd...

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The Stowaway tells the story of a young, feisty boy named Billy who attempted to join the Byrd expedition to Antarctica by stowing away on the boat in New York . But this is a true story, and Billy was captured and caught along with several others. Rather than admit defeat, he follows the boat down the coast and tries again . . . and again. Ultimately, the press coverage of his never-say-die attempts caught the eye and hearts of the country . . . and Admiral Byrd and Billy was, in a press boon, added to the crew. A very early-last-century fairy tale with feel of that time captured well in the writing. It is well researched, and would absolutely appeal to history buffs. For me, who...

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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 me, and wanted to do an adventure trip. I promised him that I would do the activities such as zip-lining and rappel, as long as we could go to the Sloth Sanctuary. So, it was a deal. Those...

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A fascinating read about a bit who showed away on Byrd's first expedition to Antarctica. The nonfiction reads like fiction with great flow and pacing. The author gives great background on the time period as well as Billy himself. I found it highly enjoyable and learned a great deal as well!
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A rousing non fiction book written by an author who has successfully done fiction,and is also a well known filmmaker. In it she tells an almost forgotten story of a boy fresh out of high school in New York City that successfully stowed away on a ship leaving for Antarctica. The book reads almost like those written by Jack London revolving around the men that go down to the sea in ships. The events depicted took place at the end of the roaring twenties beginning in 1928. Richard Byrd had organized an expedition to visit the mysterious seventh continent and planned to use aeroplanes to more fully map out the Antarctic area. What they might also discover remained a most intriguing...

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The Stowaway is about a young Polish boy in New York City named Billy Gawronski who had a love, as I do, of adventure tales. He takes this love to extremes by stowing away on Admiral Richard Byrd’s expedition to Antartica in 1928. The story follows Billy’s journey across the globe while simultaneously sharing the ups and downs of the expedition as a whole.

Shapiro details the traceable parts of Billy’s life before, during, and after the expedition. There are enough gaps that he never came to feel like a friend, though I admired his pluck and was eager to continue reading each time I picked up the book. I knew nothing of Byrd’s Antartica expedition before The Stowaway and am interested to...

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I could NOT put this book down. It was so interesting, so heartfelt, and just so unbelievable. Yet, it is/was all true. I could not help but rally for Billy to keep fighting, to keep wanting adventure out of life, to keep up his "pluck". I felt that I was right there with Billy unloading a ship onto Antarctica. Overall, a wonderfully written book about a true event. 
Downside...no pictures.
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This is a fast paced, fascinating slice of American history.  How a teenager stowed aboard Richard Byrd’s Antarctica expedition, what that expedition was like and how it effected all those involved. Readable, fun and filled with factoids I’m sure you didn’t know this book is perfect for fans of Eric Larson.
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