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


In 1928, Commander Richard Byrd prepared a two-year expedition to Antarctica, where he would attempt a daring flight over the South Pole.  The news of his departure gripped America, and every young person dreamed of winning a coveted spot on his crew.  As the job applications poured in from every state, a teenager from New York named Billy Gawronski desperately tried to convince his hardworking immigrant parents that he should be allowed to apply for a position on Byrd’s ships.  

On the eve of the journey, unchosen and determined, he stood on the banks of the Hudson River and prepared to swim its width toward the docked and waiting ship.  As a stowaway, he would face discovery, humiliation, and the failure of being expelled from the decks if found before departure. But he was willing to risk it all for a chance to see the Arctic ice and be part of one of history’s greatest expeditions.  

Rich in well-researched detail, The Stowaway tells the fascinating story of the expedition that captivated the world and changed one young man’s life forever. 

“Long tunnels hollowed out of ice were lined with food and instruments and kennels, and connected the two implausibly located buildings built two hundred yards apart.  Once completed, it would be unnecessary to go outside. The men chosen to winter over would live like moles under the snow in houses built from highly insulating ceiba tree pods that had traveled from America. But the heartless cold wearied all.  Parked at the Ross Sea, their ships were the southernmost ships on Earth, and now they were constructing the southernmost village in the world. Billy’s childhood dreams of getting a real taste of polar misery were a little too realized in the bitter weather of the barrier, as wind whipped up his neck. Pink faces and teeth chattering, he slogged through his daily January assignments in pain, though he dared not tell anyone. Everyone was essential, he told himself, even if he was a mere cog. Byrd would lavish praise on all who deserved it.”

Laurie Gwen Shapiro is an American author and documentary filmmaker.  The Stowaway is her first full-length published work, though she has had writing published by The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Lapham’s QuarterlySlate, Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Forward

Published:  2018
Length:  256 pages
Set in:  Antarctica; Atlantic Ocean; New York City, New York, U.S.