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Fatu-Hiva: Back to Nature

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  924 ratings  ·  91 reviews
A young Heyerdahl spent 1936 with his bride, Liv, on Fatu-Hiva in the Marquesas Islands. They wanted to escape civilization & live strictly according to nature. Without medical supplies, they came within inches of losing their lives, but they also found the serenity they were seeking. They built a bamboo cabin & lived off the land, struggling against myriad diseases. They ...more
Hardcover, 476 pages
Published January 28th 1992 by Buccaneer Books (first published 1938)
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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May 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
I can't be the only one who finds Thor Heyerdahl one of the most incredible real-life adventurers. This guy is crazy! Packing off to a little island with the intent to stay? Forever? "Thus it happened that, in a biting wind on a Christmas morning, we left for Fatu-Hiva on our honeymoon." Mr. and Mrs. Blue Sky, as the natives called them, only 22 and 20 years old.

Wow. That's what I thought every time I turned a page. Is it just me, or are the Norwegians the most insane people on earth? Fridjtof N
Jeff Dickison
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fascinating adventure as Thor & Live Heyerdahl attempt to go back to nature on the island of Fatu-Hiva in the late thirties. There original intent was to live their lives on the island, but the experiment goes awry with tropical diseases and untrustworthy islanders. I found it depressing that the two divorced in 1947 because she did not like being in the limelight and did not want to detract from his career. True love often does not survive a lifetime. Too bad.
Nov 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As fascinating as an adventure book /fiction/ - but this is a real adventure, as it actually happened, which makes it awesome - both in the "marvelous" and "terrifying" sense. ...more
Erik Graff
Nov 15, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
My mother introduced me to Heyerdahl at the parking lot of the Kon Tiki Museum in Oslo in 1978. He was very tall and our interaction consisted of little more than greetings, introductions and handshakes. Still, Norway being so small, it was possible for such an ordinary citizen such as my mother to be acquainting with notables like himself as well as their prime minister, Gro Harlem Bruntland. Indeed, one cousin married a crown princess while another lived with the head of diplomatic reception.

Sep 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
In the late 1930's, Heyerdahl and his wife left western civilization right after their wedding to live on the South Pacific island of Fatu-Hiv and try to return to nature. Their plan and dream was to live a simple life without any modern inventions or worries. Fatu-Hiva gives a more detailed background to Kon Tiki, as Heyerdahl begins to hypothesize about South Americans making their way to the South Pacific as he comes across carvings in the rocks and hears the stories of the islanders' ancesto ...more
Jan 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Very enjoyable read! I liked Kon Tiki as well; Fatu Hiva has perhaps a bit more of a reminiscent mood to it due to the passage of time between the events and the writing. His phrases are more polished as well and are very evocative.
Nov 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
I feel like this book was exactly what I needed in the period I read it. It's surprisingly relevant today and it kind of answered some of my questions about giving up on civilization and moving to some primitive island, not that there are many left today.
Fatu-Hiva: Back to Nature is what I think of when I hear an "old-school real-life adventure story". It's an autobiography so it being true made it much more interesting. Although it happened relatively recently, there are many reasons why it'
Feb 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Thor Heyerdahl's memoir of he and his wife's first adventure living "back to nature" on the Pacific island of Fatu-Hiva. Pretty interesting description of what it was like at the time (ca. 1930s), but a little ethnocentric. Towards the end of the book he starts talking about his theories about how the Pacific Islands were populated by Peruvians. Recent DNA evidence disputes his theories, but it's still interesting. ...more
Aug 03, 2007 rated it liked it
Back to nature and giving up all that technology has to offer is the theme of this book. I enjoyed reading this book, it made me think about all that technology has given to society and all that it has taken away. It makes me think about my life and how I can change my lifestyle to help me to connect with nature. It also had me thinking about global warming and what I can do to help...
Sep 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Another fascinating glimpse into the disappearing native culture of the south Pacific islands written between the two World Wars. (cf. "Head Hunting in the Solomon Islands" by Caroline Mytinger.) Although Heyerdahl wrote it after "Kon Tiki", it describes events and discoveries that led to the later voyage. I'm glad I read both books in the same order he wrote them. ...more
Nov 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
The library called back this book that it took me forever to get via the hold system. Now I have a giant fine, so who knows when I'll finish it. This is the account of Thor and his wife Liv's experiment in living entirely off the land. In the 1930s. They planned to do this for the rest of their lives. Then World War II happened. ...more
Will Daly
Feb 20, 2011 rated it liked it
The writing is sparse & spartan, there is little in the manner of reflection, and the author never comes to a definite conclusion about the nature of progress and mankind, but the actual events, reported as they were, unfold fascinatingly. The idea at the core of the novel is a captivating one, and it makes the book worth reading.
Jan 20, 2016 rated it liked it
This is worth reading for the sense of what life was like for a European in the 1930's living in the South Pacific. Three stars because he goes off topic and gets a little preachy some times. I wondered if the threat of WWII might have provided a little incentive to remain. I think I would take Tom Neale's experience on an uninhabited island over what they went through on Fatu-Hiva. ...more
Sep 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have previously read Aku-Aku and Kon-Tiki. This book unlocks some of the reasons behind subsequent expeditions. I enjoyed it very much.
Sep 13, 2012 rated it liked it
This book won't appeal to all fans of Heyerdahl's ocean voyage books, Kon-Tiki and Ra. Fatu-Hiva is less an adventure narrative and more an exercise in cultural and archeological exploration (and living on a fruit diet in a bamboo hut). This year on a South Pacific island with his wife, Liv, plants the roots for Heyerdahl's theory of South American ancestry for Polynesians (vs the convention that Polynesia was populated from Asia via Indonesia).

As someone who was intrigued by the theory behind K
Pat Dodd Racher
Mar 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Fatu-Hiva is a remote mountainous island in the Marquesas, in the Pacific Ocean. Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl (1914-2002) and his wife Liv spent more than a year there in 1937-38, aiming to live simply with none of the trappings of modern civilisation. While there were intervals of relaxed abundance, Thor and Liv suffered from painful tropical diseases, without any possibility of medical assistance. The latter part of their stay was marred by having to fend off intoxicated islanders in what ...more
Oct 01, 2011 rated it it was ok
Thor Heyerdahl is obviously brave and adventurous (no matter how many times he assures us he is not). I read the book while traveling in the south Pacific and at least three times his observations about plants were interesting and relevant. His endless, beat-you-over-the-head personal lectures about civilization and progress were never interesting or relevant. Oh, progress doesn't mean machines? Yawn. And why do you keep calling Liv, your "bride"? The book was expanded and translated in the seve ...more
Nov 14, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: anthropology, travel
This is the story of the author's first experience of fieldwork, when he lived with his wife for a year on a remote Polynesian island where they wanted to get "back to nature." The author begins to develop the theory that would dominate his career and research, that Polynesia was first settled by Native Americans. The two have some wonderful experiences, but while H. continually writes about how he finds his Polynesian neighbors on the island to be intelligent and in every way like himself, his ...more
Steve Van Slyke
Dec 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sailing-cruising
One of Heyerdahl's lesser known works. This is another one that I read so long ago that my review is necessarily of the impressions that remain. The most incredible thing about the book is the story of how he somehow convinced his new bride to go tramping through the jungles of Fatu Hiva without the benefit of much of anything to protect them from the elements, particularly the insects. If you've been to Fatu Hiva (I have) you know what a rugged, savage, unforgiving place it is. It's an astoundi ...more
Apr 04, 2013 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

A relatively short travelogue book with musings on human migration patterns, modern society, the upcoming war (WW II) and the even mention of the hippy revolution at the end of the book.

I enjoyed the book, but some sections where he mused about nature and anthropology might have gone on too long at points.

Thor details his travel and stay on Fatu-Hiva and even Hiva-oa to the north in the Marquesas group when he was relatively young and married to his wife Liv in the late 30s.

There were
Gold Dust
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I loved it. It's a great book for anyone who has become fed up with modern society and dreams of escaping to a tropical island paradise and live off the land. Most nature stories bore me, but this one was actually exciting to read. Interesting things kept happening, perhaps because the author/narrator was never completely free of other human company. The book also has important messages about how our modern society is not really "progress," and how we should try to protect what nature we have le ...more
Aug 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Interesting to read a book written in the 70s about an experience that happened in the 30s. The problem is, Heyerdahl didn't seem to know if this was a description of an adventure, a scientific treatise foreshadowing his later work or a philosophical discussion about the evils of civilization. I suppose I should also be outraged at the "poor little woman" attitude with his wife relegated to staying at home cooking meals while he did the important stuff, but that I can explain as being realistic ...more
Apr 30, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: never-finished
I tried to read this twice now, both times I began excited and ended about half-through. Their adventures become repetitive, the enviornmental angle is not news in the 2010s, and well, it just didn't do it for me after engrossing me for about 100 pages, my attention and interest plummeted and the thought of trudging through the rest was not enticing. ...more
Nov 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating account of the author's pioneering exploration of our relationship with the rest of the created order. Twenty years ahead of their time, and almost immediately after getting married, Thor and Liv Heyerdahl sought to escape the constraints of the over-developed and un-connected life of most northern Europeans and immerse themselves in a more natural way of living. ...more
Great account of newlyweds who live for about a year on a Pacific island with some environmental and philosophical musings. Ancient Polynesians almost certainly mostly came from the Americas. Tiki is name for God in both places for one thing. The original time for the adventure was in the thirties, but the author rewrote the account in the seventies. Worth reading.
Aug 24, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008
Good adventure story, but too flowery of language for my tastes. It bogged down the reading pace. I was expecting more of an independent nature to Thor and Liv's experience, but a lot involved interactions with the islanders. ...more
May 10, 2013 rated it liked it
I've started to read this book with great expectations to know what it actually takes to downshift and live in a wild. What I actually found was very naive and selfish tale of a "tourist" when it comes to book terminology of classifying europeans arriving on isles. ...more
Marcia Andre
Jul 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read this book aboard the freighter Aranui, on our way into the Marquesa Islands. Visiting Fatu Hiva, knowing a bit of Heyerdahl's experiences and observations made the visit even more magical. The ultimate travel read. ...more
Lisa Bricker
Mar 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
I loved Kon-Tiki and the Ra Voyages. It would appear the sea is more interesting to me than island paradises. Especially when "paradise" is fleeting. I found this book depressing and more than a little self-aggrandizing. He was young; it shows. ...more
Rae Knightly
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
He did what we all secretly dream of doing at one point or another: escape our crazy, stressful lives in bustling cities and return to more basic lives closer to nature on a far-away, paradise-like island. It's like escaping into a dream, but at one point or another you will wake up... ...more
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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

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“ჩვენ გვინდა პროვრესი წარმოვიდგინოთ როგორც თანამედროვე ადამიანის ბრძოლა იმისათვის, რათა უმრავლესობამ მიიღოს კარგი საჭმელი, თბილი ჩასაცმელი, ფართო ბინა, რათა გავაუმჯობესოთ ავადმყოფობის სამედიცინო მომსახურება, ავიცილოთ ომის საშიშროება, შევამციროთ დანაშაულებები და კორუფცია, ახალგაზრდებს და მოხუცებს შევუქმნათ უფრო ბედნიერი ცხოვრება. მაგრამ პროგრესს კიდევ ბევრ სხვა რაიმეს უწოდებენ... იხვეწება იარაღი, რათა უფრო მეტი ადამიანი მოკლას უფრო დიდ მანძილზე, - პროგრესია. პატარა კაცუნა გოლიათად იწცევა, საკმარისია მანდ ღილაკს თითი დააჭიროს, რომ დედამიწა ნაკუწ0ნაკუწ დაიშალოს, - პროგრესია. რიგითი ადამიანი გადაეჩვია ფიქრს იმიტომ, რომ სხვები აჩვენებენ, რა მოხდება თუკი ის გაატკაცუნებს რუმბლერს ან გადაატრიალებს მქნევარას, - პროგრესია. სპეციალიზაციამ ისეთ ხარისხს მიაღწია, რომ ერთმა ადამიანმა იცის თითქმის ყველაფერი თითქმის არაფერზე, - პროგრესია. ადამიანები თავს იმტვრევენ თავისუფალი დროის პრობლემაზე, - პროგრესია. სიანმდვილე იმდენად მოსაწყენი ხდება, რომ მისგან თავის დასახსნელად ვსხედვართ და თვალებდაჭყეტილი ვუყურებთ გასართობს, რომელსაც ანთებული ყუთი გვაწვდის, - პროგრესია. ვიგონებთ აბებს, რათა განვკურნოთ სხვა აბებით გამოწვეული დაავადებები, - ესეც პროგრესია. და როდესაც საავადმყოფოები სოკოებივით იზრდება, ეს იმიტომ რომ ჩვენი თავები გადატვირთულია, ხოლო სხეული განუვითარებელი, იმიტომ, რომ გულები დაცარიელებული გვაქვს და ნაწლავები სავსე იმითი, რაც რეკლამამ მოგვაწოდა. და როდესაც გლეხი ზურგს აქცევს თოხს, მეთევზე კი ბადეს, რომ ერთმანეთს კოვეიერთან შეხვდნენ, ეს იმიტომ , რომ მინდვრის ადგილზე შენდება საწარმო. რომელიც მდინარეს კლოაკად აქცევს; და როდესაც ქალაქები ფართოვდება, ხოლო ტყეები და ველები ხმება სიე, რომ სულ უფრო მეტი ადამიენი სულ უფრო მეტ დროს ატარებს მეტროსა და საავტომობილო საცობებში, დღისით კი ნეონის ლამპების ანთება გვიხდება იმიტომ, რომ სახლები ცას ებჯინება, მამაკაცები და ქალები კი მომწყვდეული არიან ქვის ვიწრობებში, ხმარუსა და ტრუსის სუნში; და როდესაც ბავშვს ტროტუარი ველს უცვლის, როდესაც ყვავილების სურნელებას და შორეული მთების პანორამას კონდიციონერი და მეზობელი სახლის ფასადი ცვლის; იჭრება ასწლოვანი მუხა, რათა საგზაო ნიშანი დაიდგას - პროგრესია...” 4 likes
“საკმარისი მორების ტივით ან პაპირუსის ნავით გაცურო ერთი კონტინენტიდან და რამდენიმე კვირის შემდეგ მიადგე მეორეს, რათა გონებით მიწვდე იმას, რაც კოსმოსიდან დაინახეს ასტრონავტებმა: ოკეანე მხოლოდ და მხოლოდ ტბაა, მისი უკიდეგანობა - მხედველობითი ცთომილება.” 4 likes
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