Ex Libris Kirkland

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Subtitle Across the Pacific by Raft
First Written 1960
Genre Travel
Origin Pacific
Publisher Adventure Publishers
ISBN-10 0848805275
ISBN-13 978-0848805272
My Copy old hardbound
First Read March 28, 2009


Thor Heyerdahl is one of my favorite weird writers, not to mention having one of the best names of any modern author. Born in Norway to a moderately wealthy family, he never got accustomed to civilized society. He would plot out a weird adventure, fund it by writing a book, and nearly kill himself along the way. Kon-Tiki is his most famous exploit.

Heyerdahl got it into his head to be an anthropologist, and became interested in the cultural similarities of Polynesian and South American cultures. He hypothesized that the kind of balsawood rafts used on lakes in the interior of South America would work just as well in the ocean, and some intrepid sailors must have crossed the Pacific by raft. Kon-Tiki is the account of how Heyerdahl did this himself, 'proving' his theory. He very nearly died along with his crewmates, and the story of how the raft got built and sailed is riveting. They had radios and navigational aids, but were at the absolute mercy of winds and currents for power. Oh, and balsawood absorbs water, so their raft was slowly sinking.

Thor writes colloquially, and has a weird defensive bluster about his adventures that probably should be annoying, but is charming instead. He's clearly too thick-headed to listen to sound advice, and that's just what makes his adventures so much fun.

Quoted on August 7, 2013

Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
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