Dr. P.J. Capelotti is an archaeologist and writer/editor of more than a dozen non-fiction histories. His research has taken him from the Equator to the Arctic, from Indonesia to Svalbard and Franz Josef Land and twice to the North Pole. He earned B.A. (1983) and M.A. (Phi Kappa Phi, 1989) degrees in history from the University of Rhode Island, and an M.A. (1994) and Ph.D.(1996) in anthropology from Rutgers University, pioneering areas of polar and aerospace archaeology. He teaches archaeology and American studies at Penn State University, Abington College, in Abington, Pennsylvania, where he is Associate Professor of Anthropology.
He served for twenty-four years in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, retiring in 2012 at the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer. Recalled to active duty after 9/11, he wrote the history of Coast Guard operations on and after 9/11 and was decorated with the Meritorious Service Medal. Recalled again in September, 2005, he documented the Service’s response to hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike, and, in 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, when he also served as Command Master Chief of the Incident Command Post in Mobile, Alabama, and received the Coast Guard Commendation Medal.
Capelotti has twice received the Best Book of the Year from the Foundation for Coast Guard History, for Rogue Wave: The U.S. Coast Guard on and after 9/11 (GPO 2003), and Life and Death on the Greenland Patrol, 1942 (Florida 2005). His latest book is Shipwreck at Cape Flora: The expeditions of Benjamin Leigh Smith, England’s forgotten Arctic explorer (Calgary 2013).
He is currently at work on a history of the American exploration of Franz Josef Land.
In the Wake of Kon-Tiki: It was the original Survivor series, only without the omnipresent cameras, paramedics, and faux tribal rituals. Between the spring of 1947 and the summer of the year 2006, more than forty expeditions sought to drift across the oceans of the world on rafts. These audacious voyages began with the legendary Kon-Tiki expedition, under the leadership of the renowned Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl. The Kon-Tiki raft drifted more than four thousand miles from Peru to Polynesia, and remained afloat months after experts predicted it would sink to the bottom of the Pacific. Heyerdahl’s radical thesis of a prehistoric world where ancient mariners drifted between continents on ocean currents electrified the postwar world. His Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific by Raft sold twenty million copies in sixty-five languages.
In the Wake of Kon-Tiki documents all of the transoceanic raft expeditions that were organized and carried out in the half century after Kon-Tiki. Spanning more than fifty years and recounting more than forty expeditions, In the Wake of Kon-Tiki is a riveting chronicle of human daring, endurance, and folly.