Raft across the Pacific

The Kon-Tiki Expedition is one heck of an adventure. At a loose end in New York in the years after the Second World War, young Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl remembered a conversation he'd had with a chief in Polynesia. The chief had told Thor tales of a god Tiki, who had travelled from the Americas to found and populate Polynesia. Struck by the similarities in art, language, and mythology between the areas, Heyerdahl set out to prove that early travellers had made it to Polynesia from Peru.

Everyone thought he was mad, and research possibilities hit a brick wall as it seemed so unlikely that the crossing of such a vast ocean on a raft was possible. Determined to prove the anthropologists wrong, Heyerdahl and a group of like-minded friends, none of whom had much experience of sailing, decided to set out on a mission to sail a raft of balsa logs from Peru to Polynesia.

The Kon-Tiki Expedition is the story of their quest and triumph. This is an enthralling adventure story. It's hard not to be captivated by the friends' enthusiasm as they draw everyone from the Pentagon to an amateur radio operator in California into their mad journey into the west.

The crew on board the Kon-Tiki
It's an amazing story, all the more so because it happens to be true. Heyerdahl's proposition that the people of Polynesia are descended from pre-Inca South America, appeared to be quite probably true after Heyerdahl proved that such a crossing was possible. More recent DNA evidence suggests that the truth may be rather more complicated. Heyerdahl dismissed the belief that Polynesians were descended from the people of South-East Asia, this now appears to be the most likely source for the people of Polynesia. HOWEVER there are signs in the DNA of South American influence, this may indicate that Heyerdahl's theory was at least partly correct, OR there's a very interesting case that the Polynesians may actually have journeyed to and from South America, and may have picked up linguistic and cultural ideas from there.

Whether or not Heyerdahl was correct though is immaterial as to whether or not you'll enjoy this book. It's a great tale of adventure and youthful bravado; and it all happens to be true!


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