Laurie Gwen Shapiro "The Stowaway" Reading & Book Signing August 11th @ 6pm
Come meet Laurie Gwen Shapiro
"The Stowaway" A Young Man’s Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica. A Reading & Book Signing August 11th at 6 pm.
In THE STOWAWAY, journalist Laurie Gwen Shapiro takes us inside the spectacular, true story of a scrappy teenager from New York’s Lower East Side who, like many Americans during the Roaring Twenties, fantasized about joining the most famous and daring venture of the era: Commander Richard Byrd’s expedition to Antarctica.
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?
In the 1920s Antarctica was still a mystery, the last place on earth to explore. Some people even thought there might be dinosaurs and indigenous peoples living there. There wouldn’t be another encounter with an unknown this magnificent until Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon. And like the closely watched space race in the 1950s, America was enraptured by the competition between Commander Byrd, a household name in 1928, and Charles Lindbergh, who had beat Byrd in a race to fly across the Atlantic. This expedition to reach Antarctica by sea was to be Byrd’s desperate second bid for glory.
Everyone wanted to join the adventure. Rockefellers and Vanderbilts begged to be taken along as mess boys, and newspapers across the globe covered every stage of planning. Edward Bernays, the father of modern public relations, was the one who proposed that Byrd lead the first American expedition to Antarctica. Bernays wisely advised Byrd to play to the national pride and optimism of the time. He helped build the excitement around the trip into a frenzy, leading to multiple attempts by eager adventurers to stowaway on the ship.
The night before the expedition’s flagship launched, Billy Gawronski—a skinny, first-generation American, New York City high schooler desperate to escape a dreary future in the family upholstery business—jumped into the Hudson River and snuck aboard. Would he get away with it?
From the grimy streets of New York’s Lower East Side to the rowdy dance halls of sultry Francophone Tahiti, all the way to Antarctica’s blinding white and deadly freeze, THE STOWAWAY takes you on the unforgettable voyage of a gutsy young stowaway who became an international celebrity and a mascot for an up-by-your bootstraps age.
About the author:
Laurie Gwen Shapiro is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist whose writing has appeared in New York, Slate, Aeon, The Forward, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. The Stowaway is her first full-length work of nonfiction.
“Shapiro has rescued from oblivion a wondrous tale of exploration. 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
“Shapiro narrates this period piece with gusto.”
Los Angeles Times
"Provides an inviting window on New York’s variety and vibrancy."
New York Times
“THE STOWAWAY is an engaging story, engagingly told, that makes the reader root for Billy … prompts one to ponder the effects of social class on fate, and the special qualities that make some people push themselves to the limit.”
WALL STREET JOURNAL
"Excellent... Shapiro has rescued Billy Gawronski’s story from obscurity and given us a nuanced portrait of an extraordinary young man. It’s also a fascinating window into the life of Richard Byrd and America itself in the exuberant 1920s and crushing Depression that followed. THE STOWAWAY is a must-read for all polar exploration enthusiasts and lovers of well-told adventure stories."