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* Featured in a national press ad campaign for the April Abacus travel promotion: THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, TIMES, OBSERVER and INDEPENDENT
Thor Heyerdahl was educated as a biologist, he subsequently turned to anthropology. A prodigious explorer, he gained world fame in 1947 when he sailed a balsa wood raft from Peru to Polynesia. He was President Gorbachev's personal adviser on environmental issues.
Accompanied by his wife, Liv, and fresh out of college, Thor Heyerdahl set out for Fatu-Hiva, a small, lightly inhabited island of the Marquesas group in the South Seas, to research how local animals had come to live on an isolated island in the Pacific. This title recounts his adventures on Fatu-Hiva. He had always felt that humanity was not necessarily making a better world for itself by distancing itself from nature in the name of progress. Deciding to live in harmony with nature, Thor and Liv tucked away their suits and shoes and set out to live off the land like the natives. Scraping away the roots and stones to clear some land for a home, they encountered ancient artifacts from the islands' first inhabitants. From the natives' tales and the artifacts themselves, Thor got his first clues that the founders were from South America and had traveled to the islands in a balsa craft. Later, he was to try the journey himself, recording the adventure in his book Kon-Tiki (1954). Although the end of this memoir contains preachy overtones regarding humans' abuse of the environment, it is an enjoyable read. Recommended for public and academic libraries.-Kathy Ellerton, Missouri Research & Education Network, Columbia
'A message which is all the more powerful for its simplicity' - THE TIMES 'His book is very valuable, as both a cautionary tale and one of the most lucid accounts we have of the practical consequences of desert-island idealism' - PUNCH
In the mid-'30s, Heyerdahl and his bride, Liv, embarked on a year-long project to study local animals on an oceanic island to find out how they got there. The Heyerdahls selected Fatu-Hiva in the Marquesas; it was lightly populated and so remote that there was no regular ship service. They wanted to be totally independent of civilization and to live off the land; their only human-made products were an iron pot and a long-handled machete. Heyerdahl gives an engaging account of their adventures and their relations with the island's inhabitants. An elderly man who remembered the practice of cannibalism told of a tradition that the island had been settled by people from the east. Heyerdahl had noticed that many of the edible plants‘pineapple, papaya, sweet potato‘were native to South and Central America. Those discoveries launched him on his epic voyages (Kon-Tiki, Aku-Aku) tracing early human migrations and the theory that the diffusion of humans is linked to the spread of cultivated plants. In the final chapters, Heyerdahl makes a plea for saving Earth and its waters. Photos not seen by PW. (Mar.)