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Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft (original 1950; edition 1990)

by Thor Heyerdahl

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2,549312,364 (4.02)89
Member:jjmcgaffey
Title:Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft
Authors:Thor Heyerdahl
Info:Pocket (1990), Mass Market Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Read, Discarded, Cover done
Rating:****
Tags:Science, Travel, Travel:Sea, TrueStory, !dunno

Work details

Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft by Thor Heyerdahl (1950)

  1. 20
    Fatu-Hiva: Back to Nature by Thor Heyerdahl (VivienneR)
  2. 01
    American Indians in the Pacific: The Theory behind the Kon-Tiki Expedition by Thor Heyerdahl (Waldstein)
    Waldstein: This massive volume is the closest to scientific study Heyerdahl ever came. The theory behind the Kont-Tiki expedition is much more substantial and better argued than many people give him credit for.
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» See also 89 mentions

English (27)  Hungarian (1)  Spanish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Norwegian (1)  All (31)
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
Looking back acrross the years to its first publication, nearly 70 years ago, Kon-Tiki. Across the Pacific in a Raft has achieved the status of a classic. Probably the documentary film of the expedition in 1951 greatly contributed to the popularization of the book. While largely unscientific, Heyerdahl's hypothesis and the practical exploratative nature of his research appeals to the popular mind, and the popularity of the book has swept criticism about its scientific premises or verity aside. Having studied zoology and explored the colonization of Polynesian islands by animals, Heyerdahl proposed a new controversial hypothesis based on an ancient Inca myth that Polynesia was discovered and populated by a mythical white race, originating from the Latin American continent prior to the arrival of the Spanish there. The books premises are about as strong or weak, and at least as popular as those of Gavin Menzies in our day.

Contrary to what many reviewers claim, the book is not 'a ripping adventure story', a claim which would perhaps better fit the films based on the book. The largest part of the book is devoted to describing Heyerdahl's hypothesis and the practical preparation for the journey.

Although Heyerdahl may be wrong about the spread of humans to Polynesia, his work and the adventurous demonstration that ancient people's could have travelled across the Pacific in a vessel or raft of their own crafting, has inspired not only many readers, but also other archaeologists and explorers to reconstruct ancient technology and prove the feasibility of, for example, literary records of travel or warfare.

Thor Heyerdahl is an excellent writer, and regardless of its scientific merit, Kon-Tiki. Across the Pacific in a Raft should be read as a classic travelogue. ( )
1 vote edwinbcn | Oct 8, 2016 |
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  jmdziadik | Aug 25, 2016 |
I can't remember when i first heard about the book, or the expedition, but was was probably while still at school, in the early 1960s; I might even have been gripped by the 1950 film. However, it's a great book of adventure, and one which I found most enjoyable. Very glad I have this.
  corracreigh | Mar 23, 2016 |
Besides being an excellent explorer, the author is an excellent story-teller. He start his narration telling the difficulties of having his studies accepted by scholars. They doubt his theory on the South American natives being the ones to populate the Polynesian islands, because they thought it was impossible for them to reach the islands using just a small raft.

That triggered the desire for the author to prove himself right. He started looking for ways of doing this travel, finding crew and financial resources. After solving the financial problems through the sponsor of people from the explorer's club in New York, he start traveling multiple times to Washington to get licenses and approval for using military food and he find his first travelmate, Herman Watzinger. They are joined by Knut Haugland, Bengt E.Danielssen, Erik Hesselberg and Torstein Raaby. The book describes this incredible and marvelous journey taken by six people (five Norwegians and one Sweden) through the Pacific Ocean. Some photos taken by the author are presented in the book. This book shows how much courage those guys needed to have to expose themselves to the wind, the rain, the lack of comfort, and the risk of death just to prove a theory.

This book is more than just a traveller's journal. It is a masterpiece and it should be in the permanent library of any serious reader. ( )
  rmattos | Jan 23, 2016 |
While living on the remote Pacific Island of Fatu Hiva for a year studying zoology, Norwegian Thor Heyerdahl also learned a great deal about the history and culture of Polynesia. He developed the theory that Polynesia was settled from the East by South Americans based on his observations of similarities in statues carved in stone, the idea the sun-worshiping society would have naturally traveled west to follow the setting sun, and the fact that ocean currents flow to the west making it easier to float with them instead of to paddle against them. Anthropologists refused to even consider his theory (the accepted explanation is that ancient people settled the Pacific islands from Asia) on the grounds that it would have been impossible for anyone to cross the Pacific Ocean on the types of boats that were in use two thousand years ago.

To refute the biggest obstacle to his theory, in 1947 Heyerdahl actually built a balsa wood raft using the materials, technology, and design that would have been used by early Peruvians and sailed it 4,300 miles over 100 days across the Pacific from Peru to Polynesia. It was named the Kon-Tiki after the sun god worshiped by civilizations on both sides of the ocean, and five other men went with Heyerdahl. This book describes their journey from the time Heyerdahl first developed his theory, to his difficulties in getting support to make the trip at all, to the journey itself.

I've had several of Heyerdahl's books on my shelf for a while, but I had to push this one to the top of my list after stumbling across a recent film version. Heyerdahl made a documentary film about his journey shortly after completing it, but the version I saw was a fictionalized account made by Norwegian filmmakers in 2012, so I was really curious about how much they changed or exaggerated. For those interested in the film, it was quite good and stayed pretty close to the book.

I really enjoyed the book, partly because it's just a really cool thing for anyone to have done (despite it being ridiculously dangerous), partly because I love history and anthropology, and partly because Heyerdahl's a very good writer. The only things I didn't like about it were that it got a little tedious in the middle (there's only so much you can say about 100 days at sea) and that the descriptions of how many sharks they killed bothered me because there didn't seem to be a real reason for it. Overall, this was a great thing to have experienced, even if only in book form.

And for the record, Heyerdahl's journey did prove that it is possible to cross the ocean on a primitive raft, but it did not prove that South Americans actually did settle Polynesia that way. From the little bit of research I did online, it seems that Heyerdahl's theory is not accepted by most anthropologists based on modern genetic testing and linguistic studies that show that the Polynesians' ancestors came from Asia, not South America (although there may be some South American influence in Polynesian culture that suggests there was some contact between the groups). ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
Wow! You really impressed me by this post of yours. And what is additional commendable
 

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Thor Heyerdahlprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lyon, Francis HamiltonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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No storm-clouds with low pressure and dirty weather held greater menace for us then the danger of psychological cloudburst among six men shut up together for months on a drifting raft. In such circumstances a good joke was often as valuable as a life-belt.
There were swarms of journalists and a clicking of cinema cameras; indeed, the only things that were lacking were a brass band and a big drum. One thing was quite clear to us all - that if the raft went to pieces outside the bay we would paddle to Polynesia, each of us on a log, rather than dare come back there again.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0671726528, Mass Market Paperback)

Kon-Tiki is the record of an astonishing adventure -- a journey of 4,300 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean by raft. Intrigued by Polynesian folklore, biologist Thor Heyerdahl suspected that the South Sea Islands had been settled by an ancient race from thousands of miles to the east, led by a mythical hero, Kon-Tiki. He decided to prove his theory by duplicating the legendary voyage.

On April 28, 1947, Heyerdahl and five other adventurers sailed from Peru on a balsa log raft. After three months on the open sea, encountering raging storms, whales, and sharks, they sighted land -- the Polynesian island of Puka Puka.

Translated into sixty-five languages, Kon-Tiki is a classic, inspiring tale of daring and courage -- a magnificent saga of men against the sea.

Washington Square Press' Enriched Classics present the great works of world literature enhanced for the contemporary reader. This edition of Kon-Tiki has been prepared by an editorial committee headed by Harry Shefter, professor of English at New York University. It includes a foreword by the author, a selection of critical excerpts, notes, an index, and a unique visual essay of the voyage.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:30 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Kon-Tiki is the record of an astonishing adventure -- a journey of 4,300 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean by raft. Intrigued by Polynesian folklore, biologist Thor Heyerdahl suspected that the South Sea Islands had been settled by an ancient race from thousands of miles to the east, led by a mythical hero, Kon-Tiki. He decided to prove his theory by duplicating the legendary voyage. On April 28, 1947, Heyerdahl and five other adventurers sailed from Peru on a balsa log raft. After three months on the open sea, encountering raging storms, whales, and sharks, they sighted land -- the Polynesian island of Puka Puka. Translated into sixty-five languages, Kon-Tiki is a classic, inspiring tale of daring and courage -- a magnificent saga of men against the sea.… (more)

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