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

by Thor Heyerdahl

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,346422,887 (4.04)123
On April 28, 1947, an expedition was led by Norwegian biologist Thor Heyerdahl. The journey by raft spanned 4,300 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean and was hailed as one of the most fantastic feats of daring and courage of its time. Heyerdahl and his crew duplicated the legendary voyage of Kon-Tiki, the mythical hero who led the settlement of the South Sea Islands by sailing on a balsawood raft from Peru to the Polynesian islands.… (more)
  1. 21
    Fatu-Hiva: Back to Nature by Thor Heyerdahl (VivienneR)
  2. 00
    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 to. The theory behind the Kont-Tiki expedition is more substantial and better argued than many people give him credit for. It may have been wrong, but it was no crackpot fantasy.
  3. 01
    The Black Penguin by Andrew Evans (bjappleg8)
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» See also 123 mentions

English (35)  Spanish (1)  Hungarian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Dutch (1)  Czech (1)  French (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (42)
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
Have you ever wanted to build a huge raft out of gigantic balsa trees that are found in the rainy, steamy jungles of Ecuador, assemble and bind them using vines and other natural ropes, not using any nails or metal wires of any kind in the construction, invite 5 of your friends to join you, and then launch from the shores of Peru to embark on a 4,300 nautical mile journey (a distance of travel equivalent from Chicago to Moscow!) across the Pacific Ocean to land on one of the tiny islands found in French Polynesia?

If so, then go pick up Thor Heyerdahl’s fantastic and adventurous Kon-Tiki!

Thor wanted to prove a theory of his: that Incan Indians in ancient times sailed from Peru, landed and populated the islands located in the Polynesian Triangle. He stated that similar structures of pyramids and statues located in the jungles in Peru were also found on the islands in the Pacific. Archeologists and anthropologists he presented his theory to stated that it was impossible for humans to cross such a vast distance in a wooden raft while battling the elements in a vast and chaotic sea and SURVIVE.

So determined was Mr. Heyerdahl to prove these nay-sayers wrong that he decided to build a raft just like the ancient Inca had built them. He used the blueprints drawn up by the Spanish conquistadors who saw these ancient vessels in person long ago for its formation. Did I mention this voyage took place around 1947, well before GPS was a thing?

I found the whole book to be fascinating and the story had me day-dreaming about sailing on a raft while traversing the rough seas. The men became connected to nature; they came to know the currents and the trade winds; fish of all kinds would join them on their quest; when the rhythm of the ocean changed, they knew. The billions of stars that shone at night were their guides. The great ocean, the blue skies, the clouds, the raft herself – these were all the men knew for 3 whole months.

That’s pretty damn inspiring. Humans are born to travel, to go where no Man has gone before. The urge to explore the mysterious, the wild, and the untamed; that’s innate in us all.

I highly recommend this jewel. It will leave you wanting more. ( )
1 vote ProfessorEX | Apr 15, 2021 |
The Kon-Tiki expedition - Thor Heyerdahl ****

I am a massive fan of the adventure novel and man against nature outside of his comfort zone, books by Hammond Innes and his like are littered throughout my shelves. I suppose that because of the vast selection of fiction written over the decades we often overlook the true tales of history when men have completed heroic feats.

In order to try and prove that the journey from South America to the Polynesian Islands was possible by raft and to explain how the Islands became inhabited centuries ago, Thor Heyerdahl decides to undertake the trip himself along with 5 other adventures. The raft is built as an exact replica of the early vessels, even going so far as to source the wood from the same forests and tie using the same bindings.

A really interesting book and the author is a natural storyteller, although I have to admit I preferred the first half where the preparations and early voyage take place, particularly how they had to find the balsa logs.The second half dragged a little, but how much can you say about being stuck on a raft in the middle of the pacific for weeks? Definitely worth a read for those fond of adventure and history.
  Bridgey | Feb 9, 2021 |
Fantastic ( )
  glenncvance | Aug 26, 2020 |
Although I read this over 30 years ago, I wanted to re-read it in light of recent DNA research the appears to confirm Heyeredahl's theory that some Polynesian's immigrated to eastern Pacific islands from South America, not from the west. Given the new evidence the book now has even greater weight and importance, not only as an influential work of exploration and a literary achievement, but the testing of a scientific theory that turned out to be correct. The book explores the Earth while also working out a new theory, comparable to Charles Darwin's The Voyage of the Beagle which contained notes about his evolving theory of the fixity of species. When I first read it, I didn't give much credence to his theory because who knew, and anyway if that's what it took to write a great adventure story so be it. But on re-reading it so much more satisfying and interesting knowing it is correct.

Kon-Tiki was published just 3 years after the end of WWII, one of the earliest post-war outdoor adventure books, and as such was influential with many that followed. There have been nine more raft expeditions, the latest in 2015, that recreated Heyeredahl's original. The longest, Las Balsas in 1973, went all the way to Australia and is the longest raft journey in history. The writing is vivid and joyful to read. This is a perfect book, there are not many in this world but I place this on a lightly stacked top shelf of any outdoor literature library.

(read 1981 and 2020) ( )
  Stbalbach | Aug 22, 2020 |
910.4
  OakGrove-KFA | Mar 28, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
Wow! You really impressed me by this post of yours. And what is additional commendable
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Heyerdahl, Thorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lyon, Francis HamiltonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my father
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Just occasionally you find yourself in an odd situation.
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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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On April 28, 1947, an expedition was led by Norwegian biologist Thor Heyerdahl. The journey by raft spanned 4,300 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean and was hailed as one of the most fantastic feats of daring and courage of its time. Heyerdahl and his crew duplicated the legendary voyage of Kon-Tiki, the mythical hero who led the settlement of the South Sea Islands by sailing on a balsawood raft from Peru to the Polynesian islands.

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Skyhorse Publishing

2 editions of this book were published by Skyhorse Publishing.

Editions: 1602397953, 1629146749

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