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3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  846 Ratings  ·  53 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)
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Brian Bruns
Jan 24, 2013 Brian Bruns rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Charles Kos
Dec 17, 2015 Charles Kos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply sensational! Endless adventure, archaeology! Good reasoning.

In one of his books, the famous UFO-researcher Dr Jacques Vallee, described this book as "extraordinary". It is.

At the start of the book, Heyerdahl finds himself stuck inside what is essentially an Eastern Island cave booby trap, designed to lock him to the buried ancestors forever.

One of the best bits is when he is collecting artefacts from Easter Islanders' families tombs. Of course he must convince their families of his goo
I first read this book when I was about 25.

Somewhat obviously, if you are at all interested in Easter Island, this is really the place to start.

Even though it is very factual and scientific, it is still very interesting and very riveting.

It really verges into the paranormal and the occult in a way.

I know a lot of people don't like non-fiction books, but if you ever want one, this is the place to start.

For any men who like adventure stories ( which is most men), this would be a great book.

This b
The first quarter of the book is actually OK. Heyerdahl talks about the preparations he made for his archaeological expedition to Easter Island and also gives the reader a good introduction about the island history. The best part for me was to learn how many Moais had to be literally dug out of the soil, and the theory Heyerdahl presented to explain how the Moais could be build. Moais bodies were carved in stone inside one quarry, but their red caps were carved out in another quarry several kilo ...more
Mar 04, 2014 Conrad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Opening any book by Thor Heyerdahl is a ticket to a world of adventure. Aku-Aku is no exception. The expedition to Easter Island and then on to other islands in the vicinity, uncovered not only startling relics that had been buried by the dust of time but also a verbal history passed on from generation to generation. Pulling it all together with a personal narrative, the author gives the reader a fascinating picture of the history of migration of a mysterious race of tall fair skinned, red haire ...more
Dec 09, 2008 Mukikamu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Carol Buchter
Since I read this on my way to Easter Island I found it to be a fascinating description of ancient and modern life on this most isolated island in the world. Although it is fast paced and well written I am not sure how interesting it will be to the casual reader.
Janet Eshenroder
I vacillated between two and three stars. The author is a talented story teller so that, even though this was about a scientific exploration, "Aku-Aku: The Secret of Easter Island" read like a novel. I hate to admit that before reading this book the only thing I knew of Easter Island was the iconic heads sticking out of the earth. I'm grateful to have filled in and corrected my impression of the islanders, their culture, and lifestyle. This part was fascinating.

My problem started half way throug
Ronald Wise
Jul 22, 2011 Ronald Wise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Orgon Solo
Mar 03, 2016 Orgon Solo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thor Heyerdahl, one of those people with a huge need to sate his curiosity, and the determination to see through any project he set forth to undertake. As he writes at the beginning of the book - crossing the ocean in a balsa fleet was one thing (The Kon Tiki mission), sailing over in a fully fledged ship is a whole other deal altogether, liscenes must be obtained, permissions, contracts, paperwork and whatnot all must be diligently filled out. nd as he adds, plus the fact, that noen of his crew ...more
Apr 29, 2013 Shannon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Feb 15, 2015 Justin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
WHAT A BOOK. Wow. Absolute long time favorite. Full of colonialist bravado, the author goes to a remote island to study it, convinces the locals he is a powerful wizard, with trickery and schemes, robs the locals blind of long term inherited stone statues they hid in the island's miles and miles of volcanic caves, gains access to those ancestral grave and treasure caves, and hauls them back to his home country. Amazing asshole author from the era where research and archaeological theft were inte ...more
Mario Perron
Back I the days when libraries were the only source of getting information, I found a ragged and abused copy of this book in my high school's library. As I was deep in my Jules Verne & Arthur Conan Doyle phase, this adventure was more exciting than anything I read in National Geographic. It is written very vividly, which made it easy to dispel reality and become part of the adventures. I've always been fascinated by Easter Island and this story fuels that fascination. It might be time to rer ...more
Cortney R
Jun 01, 2008 Cortney R rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 05, 2013 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Tom Schulte
Nov 10, 2014 Tom Schulte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Erik Graff
May 11, 2008 Erik Graff rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Anna Dragula
This book seemed endless! I'm not keen on non-fiction adventure stories and the book found me accidently. If I didn't respect the person who gave me it, I wouldn't read it up till the end. I fell asleep all the time reading it.I won't say that Thor Heyerdahl is a great story-teller (and this is a main reason why I gave the book 3), but in general it was interesting to learn the origin of Easter's island statues and methods of setting them, and, to my mind, it seems convincing, although by now, t ...more
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
Dec 18, 2012 Dru rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 08, 2014 Kika23 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, my-library
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.
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.
May 01, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 09, 2013 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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!
Scott Williams
Feb 09, 2015 Scott Williams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 14, 2011 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
Mar 18, 2009 Raychel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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...
Aug 06, 2007 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
T.A. Clark
May 24, 2016 T.A. Clark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book as a kid, and have had a life-long fascination with Easter Island as a result. Even though more contemporary archaeologists disagree with many of Thor Heyerdahl's conclusions, it is a fascinating study of the island, and engagingly written.
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Stories and Story...: Aku-Aku and others by Heyerdahl 4 6 Oct 14, 2014 01:39PM  
  • The Shark God: Encounters with Ghosts and Ancestors in the South Pacific
  • End of the Earth: Voyaging to Antarctica
  • The Brendan Voyage: A Leather Boat Tracks the Discovery of America by the Irish Sailor Saints
  • News From Tartary
  • Origins
  • The Last Grain Race
  • An Island to Oneself: The Story of Six Years on a Desert Island
  • Gods, Graves and Scholars: The Story of Archaeology
  • Oxford
  • Throwim Way Leg: Tree-Kangaroos, Possums, and Penis Gourds
  • Dimensions: A Casebook of Alien Contact
  • The Lost World of the Kalahari
  • The Bermuda Triangle Mystery Solved
  • The Northern Lights: The True Story of the Man Who Unlocked the Secrets of the Aurora Borealis
  • Surviving Paradise: One Year on a Disappearing Island
  • Travels in West Africa
  • Stonehenge Decoded
  • Four Corners: A Journey into the Heart of Papua New Guinea
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...

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“Through a misunderstanding one native visitor was shot on board one of the ships, and a dozen others were shot ashore, while the Europeans got off with the loss of one tablecloth and of a few hats which were stolen while they had them on their heads.” 1 likes
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