“The story of Billy Gawronski, the young man who repeatedly tried to join Richard Byrd's Antarctic expedition, reads like an adventure novel. The reality of his life is beyond the realm of the wildest imagination. Shapiro brings this resilient and resourceful man to life against the changing world of the Roaring Twenties, and his story perfectly reflects a world undergoing vast change. Combining narrative, science, and portraits of outsized personalities, Shapiro treats the reader to a story that is not only relevant but a total joy.”
Bill Cusumano, Square Books
The spectacular, true story of a scrappy teenager from New York’s Lower East Side who stowed away on the most remarkable feat of science and daring of the Jazz Age, 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).
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?
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, author Laurie Gwen Shapiro “narrates this period piece with gusto” (Los Angeles Times), taking readers on the “novelistic” (The New Yorker) and unforgettable voyage of a plucky young stowaway who became a Roaring Twenties celebrity, a mascot for an up-by-your bootstraps era.