The RA Expedition

The RA Expedition

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Ra is the story of Heyerdahl's voyage from North Africa to South America in a 45 ft papyrus boat modelled on those depicted in the pharoah's wall paintings. A violent storm ended the first expedition but within a year the seven men had embarked on their second journey in Ra more

Product details

  • Paperback | 336 pages
  • 128 x 198 x 22mm | 439.98g
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • Flamingo
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Norwegian
  • 32pp b&w photographs
  • 0006545300
  • 9780006545309
  • 899,052

Review Text

Could a "paper boat," an ancient Egyptian papyrus craft, cross the Atlantic to America? He's not out to prove a theory, Heyerdahl insists, just to demonstrate possibility; but his observation of similar specialized craft in the Andes, Easter Island, Mexico, Central Africa and Ethiopia, along with his inclination toward diffusionism (the notion that cultures spread to America rather than arising indigenously), becomes the argument that what might have been was. Professed disinterest and intrusive theorizing aside, the voyages on Ra I and II (Ra for the Egyptian sun-god, also the word for sun among Pacific peoples) differ from the Kon-Tiki venture in ways that will deter readers: the crew is contrivedly multi-ethnic, so that instead of natural we have national tensions, and mediation instead of accommodation; the sea fails to produce the wealth of curious creatures that constantly surprised before; and Ra I, after lingering along the African coast, losing its steering gear and sinking steadily at the stern, is obviously a loser, for all its vaunted buoyancy, though not a lost cause: Ra II will hew more closely to ancient practice newly understood. On the second voyage, telescoped here, good seamanship and fellowship assure success. Livelier and generally more interesting are Heyerdahl's escapades (in Richard Halliburton fashion) among the 'natives'; at one point he triumphs in a Chad dance marathon, at another he hides overnight on a cloistered Coptic island, all to gain materiel and know-how for his boat. Sixty-four pages of color photos are providentially provided; they contribute verisimilitude and vitality to what tends often to seem a stunt. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

About Thor Heyerdahl

Thor Heyerdahl was born in Norway in 1914. He received the Order of Merit or similar decorations from Peru, Italy, Egypt, Morocco, Bulgaria, Norway and Sweden. He wrote many books on early travel and sea exploration. He died in April more
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