Only a year or so after the end of WWII five Norwegians, a Swede and a Spanish-speaking parrot of irritable disposition set out on one of the most aud...moreOnly a year or so after the end of WWII five Norwegians, a Swede and a Spanish-speaking parrot of irritable disposition set out on one of the most audacious expeditions of modern times. Testing his theory that Polynesia was colonised from South America, Thor Heyerdahl and his team construct a raft of balsa logs using a drawing made by the Conquistadors as their blueprint, travelling into the forests of the foothills of the Andes to collect their materials.
I first read this book as a 10-year-old, and unable to put it down, fell in love with it and the adventurous spirit and sense of danger it embodies. It inspired me to go travelling and even influenced my choice to study Marine Biology at university.
The crew set out from Callao in Peru at the end of April 1947, catching the Humboldt Current out into the Pacific, and, 101 days later, grounded on a reef in the Tuamoto Archipelago, 3770nm distant. This account of the voyage is thrilling; a ripping yarn written very much in the style of a boy's-own-adventure, where Norse heroes meet sea creatures dreamt into existence by Jules Verne. Sharks and squid and something that glows at night follow the tiny raft through wind, rain and shine (and showers of flying fish).
Despite the immensity of their undertaking, Heyerdahl and the others set about their undertaking with a sense of ramshackle recklessness, under-prepared optimism and great humour. The book is ranked #17 in the National Geographic 100 Best Adventure Books of All Time; in my opinion its #1 in the Best Books of All Time.(less)