SOCIAL SCIENCES

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

S. & S. Jan. 2018. 256p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781476753867. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781476753881. BIOG
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Shapiro, in her first full-length work of nonfiction, deftly tells the story of Billy Gawronski, a young boy determined to seek adventure. Through reading novels and following the events of real-life explorers, Gawronski cultivated a knowledge of and insatiable desire for risk-taking. In 1928, at the age of 17, Gawronski's ambition was fulfilled. During the height of the Jazz Age, Richard Byrd, a famous American explorer and idol to Gawronski, led an expedition to Antarctica. Byrd intended to be the first person to fly over the South Pole. At this point, the United States had largely been absent from Antarctic exploration. Byrd was already a household name and the country was excited. One night, Gawronski swam across New York's Hudson River and climbed on board Byrd's ship. He was found with two other stowaways and sent home. After several more of these kinds of attempts, Gawronski won the respect of Byrd and was hired on as part of the crew.
VERDICT This fascinating and exciting story contrasts the optimism and sense of progress of the 1920s with the devastation of the 1930s. Readers of popular history and biographies will find much to delight in here.

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