A Young Man’s Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica
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 question. animal life? Areas of more temperate climate? Strange creatures? It was an adventure that might be likened to the furor about the first landing on the moon a few generations later.
Billy Gawronski was the son of Polish immigrants that had settled in a section of Queens county a borough of New York City. The father successfully started an upholstery business and had visions of taking Billy into it to help build it up. But Billy developed a mind similar to many other people at that time. He was in love with the idea of making the trip to Antarctica with Byrd. When he was not selected as part of the crew going he decided to sneak aboard the ship as a stowaway and try and convince the captain to take him along in any capacity.
Billy was successful in sneaking aboard and began an adventure without parallel. The adventure took him to Panama, going through the canal, to Tahiti and than to New Zealand as the jumping off place for the trip to Antarctica. Ms Shapiro uses a style of simply relating the facts she has garnered through research. The amazing adventures of this young man are described without trying to put conversations into his mouth. This approach makes the story even more realistic. Billy had passed away when Shapiro made the decision to write about him, but his widow was still alive and contributed letters and photographs to the telling of the story.
1/18 Paul Lane
THE STOWAWAY by Laurie Gwen Shapiro. Simon & Schuster (January 16, 2018). ISBN 978-1476753867. 256p.