August 17, 2002


In the Footsteps of Heyerdahl (Richard Poe, August 16, 2002)
WHEN THOR HEYERDAHL died in April, the mass media fell oddly mute. Some readers told me that they learned of the great Norwegian explorer's death only a week later, by reading my eulogy on the Internet.

Such apathy seems hard to fathom. Every schoolboy once read Kon-Tiki and dreamed of conquering the waves as Heyerdahl had done. Perhaps, imbued with the modern philosophy of "safety first," today's journalists no longer wish to encourage such dreams.

Media apathy has likewise greeted Dominique Goerlitz - Heyerdahl's apprentice and heir apparent.

On July 20, this 35-year-old German schoolteacher landed in Alexandria, Egypt, after sailing 1,164 nautical miles in two and a half months, on an ancient Egyptian-style reed boat.

One of the first grown-up books that I ever read, when I was eleven, was Thor Heyerdahl's Ra Expedition. There was a terrific movie about the Ra, which probably is what got me interested in the story, of just such a papyrus reed boat that Heyerdahl and crew sailed across the Atlantic to show that Egyptians could have reached the Americas. Then I read the copy of Kon-Tiki that my Dad had and which, serendipitously, he would have read right around when he was eleven also. Do boys not read these books anymore? What a shame. Posted by Orrin Judd at August 17, 2002 1:11 PM
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