Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific by Raft Paperback – Mar 1 2010
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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. His life of exploration, which took him all over the world, continues to capture the public’s imagination and inspire people to do incredible things.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
"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.Read more ›
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...
Most recent customer reviews
Do not buy this book! First, although it is a hardcover, it is the size of a very small paperback. Second, the pages bear a distinct resemblance to newsprint. Read morePublished 6 days ago by bg
Amazing book. I read it years ago and both my husband and I re-read it on a Hawaiian cruise last year. It was just as good the second time around.Published 14 months ago by T Leigh
Book quality is quite poor. The print is very small. The photo insert pages are on different paper than the rest of the book.Published on June 27 2013 by Maureen
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 morePublished on Nov. 30 2003 by Chrysie Bruzik
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 morePublished on Nov. 9 2001
This book is for the voyeur that wants a window into the lost age of adventure, those years before 1940. Read morePublished on Sept. 9 2001 by Paris1929
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 morePublished on Dec 30 2000 by neurotome
Heyerdahl's book succeeds on many levels--it is both an intriguing scientific/anthropological speculation and an enthralling tale of adventure. Read morePublished on Aug. 30 2000 by ADP