cover image Green Was the Earth on the Seventh Day

Green Was the Earth on the Seventh Day

Thor Heyerdahl. Random House (NY), $27.5 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-679-44093-2

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.)