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Knut Magne Haugland - a real life adventure story
January 7, 2010 7:30 PM   Subscribe

Knut Haugland, the last surviving member of the Kon Tiki expedition, and possibly the quietest hero you’ve never heard of, died on Christmas Day.

His adventures have featured in three films: The Lonely Sea, a documentary of Thoe Heyerdahl's Kon Tiki expedition; The Heroes of Telemark, featuring Kirk Douglas; and Omringet! (Surrounded!), which told the story of his earliest activities for the Resistance, where he transmitted morse code messages to Britain from a secret room hidden in a women’s health clinic. Uncomfortable with the sensationalism in The Heroes of Telemark, he instigated a TV series, The Real Heroes of Telemark. In 2003, the BBC made a radio documentary with the surviving Resistance members involved, including Haugland.

His biography, Operatøren, by Svein Sæter was published in 2008, but only in Norwegian.

Thor Heyerdahl's son provides this obituary.
posted by girlgenius (21 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks for a fitting post in tribute to this fine man - had never thought of the Kon-Tiki expedition in the post-war context as set out in Thor Heyerdahl Jr's obituary. I have also learned that the stomach contents of the reindeer has the vitamins, which teaches me mostly that I'm not the poor scrapings of half the man Haugland obviously was.
posted by Abiezer at 7:46 PM on January 7, 2010


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posted by vibrotronica at 7:56 PM on January 7, 2010


kon tiki is a fantastic book

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posted by zeoslap at 8:32 PM on January 7, 2010


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posted by robotot at 8:47 PM on January 7, 2010


I read his lengthy obit in the WSJ. His involvement in the Norwegian Resistance, including his training by the British before sending him back to Norway to thwart the German heavy water production efforts in Norway, was pretty amazing. The WSJ obit mentioned that one of the radio transmitters that he used on the Kon Tiki expedition was actually of WWII vintage, further connecting the dots in this man's remarkable life.

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posted by webhund at 9:26 PM on January 7, 2010


Thanks for this well done post.
posted by Staggering Jack at 10:07 PM on January 7, 2010


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posted by Carillon at 10:11 PM on January 7, 2010


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posted by newdaddy at 10:41 PM on January 7, 2010


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posted by Pecinpah at 12:04 AM on January 8, 2010


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posted by daniel_charms at 12:28 AM on January 8, 2010


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posted by humanfont at 12:49 AM on January 8, 2010


Kon Tiki is an example of how junk science can still produce some sort of value, even if it's only a tale of adventure. The point of the expedition was to prove that the Polynesians came from South America, which had been visited by Jesus after his resurrection, and thus were eligible (unlike Africans) for salvation.

Of course, we now know that this was (like most things sourced from imaginary golden plates) pure bunkum, but that doesn't change the awesome manliness of the voyage one bit.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:33 AM on January 8, 2010


..- .-. --. . -. - ... . -. -.. - .-- --- -....- .-- .- -.-- -- .. .-. .-. --- .-.
posted by pracowity at 2:50 AM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I kept coming across references to Kon Tiki over the past 15-20 years so I finally obtained the movie and watched it. It's an incredible feat and story but man was that film primitive. Still, I loved it. I should see if there's an audio version of the book.

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posted by DU at 4:26 AM on January 8, 2010


Oh and the point of that comment was: I watched it right before Christmas so....that's coincidental.
posted by DU at 4:27 AM on January 8, 2010


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posted by Harald74 at 4:43 AM on January 8, 2010


> The point of the expedition was to prove that the Polynesians came from South America,
> which had been visited by Jesus after his resurrection, and thus were eligible (unlike
> Africans) for salvation.

WTF? If this is a joke it went right over my head. If it isn't... the point of the expedition was not remotely to prove Heyerdahl's migration theory but rather to remove single one objection to it, objection being that Polynesians could not possibly have come from South America because it's not possible to cross the Pacific with the technology they had. (Doing the crossing on a log raft does indeed pretty much put paid to that one objection.) If Jesus entered into the story at any point I missed it entirely--and I read both the book account of the voyage and also Heyerdahl's enormous compendium of supporting material for the theory--ethnography, Time Cube speculation and all.

Jesus? Linkies, please.
posted by jfuller at 6:34 AM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I remember Knut. I had a crush on him when I was 10. I read Kon Tiki over and over and over as a child and passed it on to my own children, along with The Ra Expeditions, which, if you have never read, I hereby strongly recommend to you. At the very least it provides a kind of chilling foretaste of our one times: it goes on at some length about the dramatic increase in pollution and trash in the ocean from 1947 to 1970.

My daughter made a model Kon Tiki out of my father's hoarded wine corks for a school book report once; we kept it for years. I hate watching this generation pass.

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posted by mygothlaundry at 8:53 AM on January 8, 2010


Great book, great post. Thank you.
posted by futureisunwritten at 9:13 AM on January 8, 2010


I read Kon Tiki just a few months ago. I was both shocked and pleasantly surprised by the end to find that no one had died.

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posted by The Great Big Mulp at 3:44 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oops, my mistake...Heyerdahl, it seems, came about his theories independently of the Book of Mormon. The Mormons sure do love him, though...but genetic studies show that there's no chance that his ideas were valid. There was almost certainly eastward contact from Polynesia, but not westward.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 4:01 PM on January 8, 2010


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