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Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific by Raft [Paperback]

Thor Heyerdahl
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 1 2010
“Am going to cross Pacific on a wooden raft to support a theory that the South Sea islands were peopled from Peru. Will you come? …Reply at once.” That is how six brave and inquisitive men came to seek a dangerous path to test a scientific theory. On a primitive raft made of forty-foot balsa logs and named “Kon-Tiki” in honor of a legendary sun king, Heyerdahl and five companions deliberately risked their lives to show that the ancient Peruvians could have made the 4,300-mile voyage to the Polynesian islands on a similar craft.

On every page of this true chronicle—from the actual building of the raft through all the dangerous and comic adventures on the sea, to the spectacular crash-landing and the native islanders’ hula dances—each reader will find a wholesome and spellbinding escape from the twenty-first century.

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About the Author

Thor Heyerdahl was a Norwegian explorer, adventurer, and writer. Born in 1914, he became famous for the 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition. He died in Italy in 2002.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharks, ship wrecks, storms, tropical islands... June 12 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
With each passing year, less and less of the world remains to be discovered. With GPS and satellite imagery, our oceans have been charted and the jungles surveyed. Our world is no longer a mystery. No longer do we have maps fringed by threatening pictures of dragons and sea monsters warning sailors and explorers of the unknown that lies out there. But when I picked up this book I was taken back fifty years in time. Back to a time when men ate meat raw and walked around with clubs hunting big game. OK, perhaps I am getting carried away.
Thor Heyerdahl believed the Polynesian islands were inhabited by sea faring travellers from Peru. But his thesis on this topic was ridiculed because no one would believe that the pacific ocean could be crossed by a flimsy raft made of balsa wood and bamboo. So Heyerdahl decides to prove IT IS possible by building a raft using exactly the same materials the ancient Peruvians used and sailing off the coast of Peru hoping to eventually reach Polynesia.
Nearly every step off his journey was filled with nay sayers who said he was crazy and "experts" who variably told him he was going to die, the raft was going to break apart, or the balsa wood would absorb the sea water and sink. He ignored them all. When they told him balsa trees of the size he needed no longer existed along the coast, he took a jeep deep into the jungles through flooded roads and GOT his trees. Which then they floated down to the ocean in a river.
Heyerdahl is keenly aware of his surroundings and describes his voyage vividly and in simple prose. I could smell the sea breeze and feel the spray of the ocean. It was like taking a mini vacation every time I sat down with this book. You'll swim with whale sharks and get caught in ferocious storms.
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2.0 out of 5 stars book quality June 27 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Book quality is quite poor. The print is very small. The photo insert pages are on different paper than the rest of the book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A foolish adventure, a remarkable accomplishment July 16 2004
Format:School & Library Binding
Early in "Kon-Tiki," as Thor Heyerdahl and his compatriots are a assembling make-shift raft to float across the Pacific, a government official calls Heyerdahl to his office.
"Are your parents living?" the official asks.
Yes, says Heyerdahl.
"Your mother and father will be very grieved when they hear of your death," says the official.
It was a reasonable assumption. What Heyerdahl and his five Norwegian friends were proposing was beyond audacious -- it was foolhardy, by any standard. Here were six young men, none with sailing experience, who were building their own Inca-style raft out of balsa logs and hemp ropes and planning to sail it across thousands of miles of ocean from Peru to the South Seas.
Surely, they would die.
Of course, they didn't. For over 100 days, the Kon-Tiki bobbed along like a cork in high and low seas making slow but steady progress before eventually landing the men on an island in French Polynesia. In doing so, Heyerdahl, an anthropologist, had made his case that it was possible that the South Sea islands had been populated by immigrants floating on rafts from South America.
It was a remarkable accomplishment, and while it is a tale imperfectly told, "Kon-Tiki" is quite worth reading.
This is a book where the events carry the writing. For the most part, Heyerdahl does an able job of presenting the story, but he curiously skips over some parts. For instance, he doesn't explain clearly why he allowed the voyage to begin by having the Kon-Tiki towed out of port and many miles out to sea. After all, wasn't the point of the expedition to show that the raft could make it all the way on its own? (There may have been a good reason -- perhaps to avoid shipping traffic -- but he doesn't say what it is.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest pure Adventure of the last century. June 3 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Immediately after WWII, young Thor Heyerdahl tried to submit a paper to academia outlining his idea that the Polynesian islands were not settled from India and Asia, as was the current wisdom, but rather by people from South America. The problem with this idea, pointed out by a number of people, was that the only boats available to the natives of that area were balsa-wood rafts. It was almost impossible to imagine that such a raft could possibly travel 3,600 miles across open ocean to arrive at the Polynesian Islands intact and with living crew. Some people laughed outright at the idea. Many of them thought the idea was crazy.
So, in true mad-scientist form, Heyerdahl said to himself "I'll show them. I'll show them ALL!". Rather than building a mad-scientist deathray, which would not only be cliche but also out of his field (anthropology), he decided to literally show them. He, himself, would build a balsa-wood raft, adhering precisely to the old designs, and he would personally sail that raft from the coast of South America to one of the Polynesian islands a quarter of the world away.
The saga of his quest to first find someone to back him on the journey, someone to crew his raft, a way to BUILD the raft, and finally the incredible adventure of actually taking the _Kon Tiki_ across the greatest ocean on Earth, makes fascinating reading. Such a voyage was something of an effort even for modern machines of its era; had Heyerdahl not done it, no one would have believed it. Instead he set sail and brought the future with him.
This did not end Heyerdahl's adventures, but instead began them. Later he developed a theory that the Americas themselves were, at least in part, visited by or settled from ancient Egypt. Since the only boats THEY used to cross oceans were made of reeds, no one would believe it was possible...
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Kon-Tiki or Con-Tiki?
I enjoyed reading this book, so much so that I incorporated it into a research paper of mine pertaining to Tiki statues and their movement and evolution across Polynesia. Read more
Published on Nov. 30 2003 by Chrysie Bruzik
5.0 out of 5 stars True Fiction
The events that occur in the book I read, Kon-Tiki, seem so fantastic and unbelievable that if you didn't know any better, you'd swear they were made up. Read more
Published on Nov. 9 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Reawaken the hardy adventurer in you, answer this books call
This book is for the voyeur that wants a window into the lost age of adventure, those years before 1940. Read more
Published on Sept. 9 2001 by Paris1929
5.0 out of 5 stars Courage, comrades, an idea, and the ocean
Kon-Tiki starts with an idea, conceived during Heyerdahl's stay on a South Seas island researching his doctoral thesis: could Polynesia have been colonized by trans-Pacific emigres... Read more
Published on Dec 30 2000 by neurotome
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling
Heyerdahl's book succeeds on many levels--it is both an intriguing scientific/anthropological speculation and an enthralling tale of adventure. Read more
Published on Aug. 31 2000 by ADP
5.0 out of 5 stars Lunatic Real Life Adventure, Part 1
Forget idiotic movies like 'Jaws,' these Scandanavian maniacs grab sharks by the tail and kill them for fun. Read more
Published on Aug. 25 2000 by TUCO H.
4.0 out of 5 stars I now want to sail across the Pacific!
Although the middle part of this book drags (which is why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5), I was really satisfied when I finished reading this book. Read more
Published on June 20 2000 by "hatch74"
5.0 out of 5 stars Kon-Tiki : Across the Pacific by Raft
Do you like reading books that have adventure and keep you in suspense? Then Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl is the book for you. Read more
Published on May 17 2000 by pricingPost1
5.0 out of 5 stars ONE OF MY FAVORITE BOOKS
Every time I read this book I'm sorry to see it end. Read FATU HIVA, the story of Thor's adventures in Polynesia as a young man. Read more
Published on March 29 2000 by Philip A. Paige
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