Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Aku-Aku” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  688 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Aku-Aku, the Secret of Easter Island describes Thor Heyerdahl's research at Rano Raraku & Anakena on their many giant stone statues. The book & later film made a major contribution to awareness, outside anthropological & archeological communities, of both the island & the statues. Much of his evidence has now been refuted by archeologists. His methods have ...more
Paperback, 349 pages
Published December 1975 by Pocket Books (first published 1957)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Aku-Aku, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Aku-Aku

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,236)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Brian Bruns
Thor Heyerdahl is an excellent story teller. Yes, he's a stud-man adventurer who happens to do incredibly varied and interesting things around the globe, speaking multiple languages and engaging with and even living with indigenous peoples of numerous continents. That doesn't mean he's not an excellent story teller, too. Aku Aku is about his year living and researching Easter Island and its enigmatic statues. Thus there is a lot of archeology in this book, and not necessarily the Indiana Jones t ...more
If you ever wondered what could possibly be exciting at an excavation, please read Thor Heyerdahl’s thrilling book about the secrets of Easter Island. You will never think digging earth is dull ever again. He is irresistably readable and brings out your curious and enthusiastic inner child. His storytelling is so exciting, you hardly believe it’s non-fiction. You are captivated and truly feel that you yourself are pushing through the impossibly narrow underground cave passages and negotiating wi ...more
"It does not come so natural for just anybody to make for the nearest mountain side with a stone in his hand, and set about quarrying the solid rock. No one has ever seen a Polynesian do anything of the kind, even in the coldest parts of New Zealand. Generations of experience in stone-carving are normally required for such projects. And experience alone is not enough. People with a fanatical urge to work and create are needed, people of the type of the mayor of Easter Island. He was certainly
Ronald Wise
This non-fiction book of adventure and exploration was a more exciting mystery story than most fiction books I've read of that genre. Through Heyerdahl's eyes the reader get's to travel to probably the most isolated inhabited place on earth, and the place often portrayed as the epitome of the unexplained.

Over the years I've seen so many passing references to the mysterious giant statues of Easter Island, but never had the opportunity to hear many details - I didn't even think the place was inhab
I read this book a year after taking a trip to Easter Island and was blown away by Thor Heyerdahl's ability to tell an enthralling story that conveys one of the greatest mysteries of our time. His descriptions of the landscape--the sharp lava rocks encircling the coast, the barren, grassy hills, the soft sands at Anakena, even the eeriness of the moai at night--paint a picture of this tiny island that is astoundingly accurate to how the island actually is. Sure, the island now has modern conveni ...more
Scott Williams
I have to keep reminding myself that I'm reviewing the book and not Heyerdahl himself. He is a great storyteller and I've said before that I envy his adventurous spirit. However, in this book he comes across as mildly racist. He also takes advantage of the Easter Islanders' spiritual beliefs in order to gather artifacts. The whole second half of the book, I was cringing at his practices.
Tom Schulte
Thor strikes me as the closest thing we have had to an Indiana Jones adventurer-scholar, like Harry Houdini strikes me as the closest thing to a superhero. These chronicles of exploring the truth behind mysterious Easter Island, or Rapa Nui meaning 'Great Rapa,' read as much like adventure as they do scholarship. Secret caves, superstition, and wizardry read with as much drama and tension as there is in enlightenment coming from the archaeology, rongo-rong, and top knots and burial spaces of the ...more
Una muy buena lectura que deja con ganas de leer más sobre los misterios de la isla y el curso que tomaron las investigaciones luego de la expedición de Heyerdahl. Aunque buena parte de las teorías del autor han sido desacreditadas, el libro es tremendamente entretenido y la narración es excelente. La descripción de los habitantes de la isla es muy vívida y llena de sabor. Realmente una interesante lectura que disfruté mucho aunque me demoré bastante más de lo que me hubiera gustado.
Cortney R
Another great adventure from Heyerdahl. The history that he and his team uncover on Easter Island is truly remarkable. One negative about the book is the author's relentless quest to obtain stone carvings from the natives' hidden family caves. He justifies it by supposing that they will eventually sell the carvings to private collectors for money or they will be lost forever, as the caves are well hidden and only one family member at a time knows the location. It seems he uses his influence and ...more
As I understand it, much of the anthropological theory in this book has since been disproven. However, to be honest, those aren't really the legs this book stands on. The book itself makes this clear, referring to Heyerdahl's scientific publications for the nitty gritty.

What this is is a great series of adventures about an explorer's time in an exotic place, and with an unfamiliar people. Heyerdahl's writing is full of character, and makes it easy to imagine being there with his crew. It would b
A very compelling read that flows like an adventure story. Very interesting and intimate.
Erik Graff
Feb 22, 2013 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Anne-Lise Graff
Shelves: sciences
Having read Heyerdahl's Kon-Tiki prior to visiting the Norwegian side of our family in sixty-two, I read Aku-Aku sometime after returning and having seen the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo. Unlike Kon-Tiki, which is primarily a travel-adventure book (Heyerdahl saved the serious stuff for journal articles), Aku-Aku is more an archaeological work written for the general public. Like Kon-Tiki, however, the underlying thesis is that there was prehistoric intercourse between South America and Polynesia and ...more
Really a brilliant work for anyone with the sort of life-long fascination with Easter Island that I have had. A visit there is on my bucket list, so there's my bias :)

Truly the most fascinating part of this work has to be how Thor Heyerdahl eventually gains the trust and confidence of the islanders and is shown many of the secrets, such as their caves and their method of putting the "topknots" on top of the Moai.

It is a wonderful read, and just really one of the cornerstones of knowledge of this
A must-read if you plan to visit Easter Island. You may not agree with his theory about the origin of the original Easter Islanders, but it's a fascinating read and superbly captures the mystery that surrounds the Island. The conjectures about the beginning of the Island's civilisation(s) & it's subsequent destruction and decline is very absorbing. He also captures very well the more recent history of the Island and it's native inhabitants. Reading it will give you a fantastic appreciation f ...more
Tad Richards
I'm reading books from my parents' collection, and they were very big on art and archaeology, and this is both. My stepfather, Harvey Fite, was also fascinated by all large scale works of art, appropriately since he created one of the 20th Century's greatest.

Heyerdahl not a great prose stylist, but a great explorer during the last flame of great exploration.
A good book if your interested in Easter Island. It was not quite as interesting a read as Heyerdahl's "Kon-Tiki" however. It tends to focus on the natives currently living on the island more than those who created the statues the island is famous for. But, criticisms aside, Heyerdahl proved again to be a very adept writer. (originally posted on
Awesome book! Interesting for people who want to read more about Easter Island, but also for people who just enjoy a good read. It's funny, exciting and even a bit scary at times. Thor Heyerdahl was a great story teller and, apart from some of Bill Bryson's books, I've never read such a fun book about history and travelling!
Bought this because the cool cover and was sucked in. Thought it would be long and boring but was engaging. Stories of climing into caves through long tunnels only wide enough if you're naked and have your hands outstrecthed helplessly over your head. But large elaborate rooms once you're in.
I have wanted to go to eater island more than most places after reading this book. Written from the scientist, but nothing close to dry. An epic an awesome story about the island and the people. Great characters. Worth reading...
This time Thor Heyerdahl is off to Easter Island for more adventures. It's not as interesting as it is a far more scientific endevor, there is no bonding, and Thor just can't keep the time in chronological order.
liked Kon-Tiki and Fatu-Hiva better, but still very good; lots of taboo/devil talk; descriptions of cave tunnels were so vivid I felt clausterphobic and had to stop reading at times.
Loved the sections uncovering the mysteries of Easter Island's signature face sculptures, but was all the art pillaging of the natives entirely necessary? A different time, for sure.
When I read this book, many years ago, I was enthralled. Even more than by Kon-Tiki. It`s sad that much has now been discredited, but it was a really good read.
I read this when I was very young. It had a huge impact on me during those impressionable years and caused me to long for oceanography as a profession.
Andrew Clifford
Heyerdahl is a great muddy-boots anthropologist who takes the reader right into the remote cultures he found so fascinating. No stone unturned.
After his scientific expedition to Easter Island in 1957, Thor Heyerdahl wrote this fascinating book of discoveries, new theories and adventures.
I actually liked this better than Kon Tiki, loved the detailed descriptions of the natives and the intricate, interwoven society illustrated.
Colin Graham
I think this was a better read than Kon-Tiki, to be honest. Very small print, so it too me ages to finish it!
Ellen Snyder
I loved this book when I read it in the sixth grade. I wanted to be an archeologist and explore caves.
The secret of Easter Island's giant stone statues.

Working from a list of books I read years ago.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 41 42 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Stories and Story...: Aku-Aku and others by Heyerdahl 4 5 Oct 14, 2014 01:39PM  
  • The Shark God: Encounters with Ghosts and Ancestors in the South Pacific
  • Origins
  • The Brendan Voyage: A Leather Boat Tracks the Discovery of America by the Irish Sailor Saints
  • News From Tartary
  • Prospero's Cell
  • Travels in West Africa
  • The Lost World of the Kalahari
  • An Island to Oneself: The Story of Six Years on a Desert Island
  • Surviving Paradise: One Year on a Disappearing Island
  • Dimensions: A Casebook of Alien Contact
  • Gipsy Moth Circles the World
  • Gods, Graves and Scholars: The Story of Archaeology
  • The Bermuda Triangle Mystery Solved
  • Three Singles To Adventure
  • Hong Kong
  • Mind Over Matter (Delta Expedition)
  • To Timbuktu: A Journey Down the Niger
  • End of the Earth: Voyaging to Antarctica
See also ثور هايردال.

Thor Heyerdahl (October 6, 1914, Larvik, Norway – April 18, 2002, Colla Micheri, Italy) was a Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer with a scientific background in zoology and geography. Heyerdahl became notable for his Kon-Tiki expedition, in which he sailed 4,300 miles (8,000 km) by raft from South America to the Tuamotu Islands. All his legendary expeditions are shown in th
More about Thor Heyerdahl...
Kon-Tiki The Ra Expeditions Fatu-Hiva: Back to Nature The Tigris Expedition: In Search of Our Beginnings Green Was the Earth on the Seventh Day: Memories and Journeys of a Lifetime

Share This Book