On the Beach

On the Beach

Book - 2009
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"After the war is over, a radioactive cloud begins to sweep southwards on the winds, gradually poisoning everything in its path. An American submarine captain is among the survivors left sheltering in Australia, preparing with the locals for the inevitable. Despite his memories of his wife, he becomes close to a young woman struggling to accept the harsh realities of their situation. Then a faint Morse code signal is picked up, transmitting from the United States and the submarine must set sail through the bleak ocean to search for signs of life. On the Beach is Nevil Shute s most powerful novel. Both gripping and intensely moving, its impact is unforgettable."
Publisher: London : Vintage Classics, 2009
ISBN: 9780099530251
0099530252
Branch Call Number: FICTION Shute 2009
Characteristics: 312 p. ; 20 cm

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JCLMelissaHH Aug 20, 2018

"This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper." ~T.S. Eliot

Indeed, it does in Nevil Shute's novel. Nuclear war would not instantly wipe out the entire human race, the suppositions go, instead condemning most of the world's population to a slow, painful death by radiation poisoning. As cities, countries, whole continents go "out," all there is to do in Melbourne, Australia is wait for the inevitable fallout. It's strange how fascinating a novel about day to day life in 1960s Australia ends up being in that dark context. If I'm looking a little groggy today, it's because I couldn't put this one down last night.

b
bobbarnetson
Mar 13, 2018

Dark. Interesting perspective on the times.

m
Moo_22
Jan 14, 2018

A great, understated end of the world novel.

b
breemu
Sep 21, 2017

Brilliant.

BookReviewer2015 Jan 10, 2017

An enduring book about hope and tragedy in the twilight of a nuclear winter, following World War 3.

f
flamingo
Dec 18, 2016

I have read all of Neville Shute's books in the fifties. They are all a wonderful read,very insightful about a period my parents lived through. It is amazing that someone is re-issuing some of them. Great!

h
Hopalong_Kid
Nov 06, 2016

A taste of the 1950's nuclear terror that was a very real to that generation and still is relevant to us. This is worth reading.

g
gendeg
Oct 13, 2016

My literary tastes lean more maximalist, and I have a more pessimistic view of humanity, so the fact that I enjoyed this understated novel about the last remaining survivors from a global nuclear apocalypse facing certain death was truly surprising. Like the radioactive dust that's circling the globe in a gentle death vise, Nevil Shute creates a tightly written novel about facing one's inevitable doom with dignity that's no less gripping.

The fate of everyone in On the Beach is pretty much sealed from the get-go, and yet you can't help but root for them and admire their respect for each other and grace in facing the end until the very last page. It makes you think: what would you do if you only had a few more months after some global cataclysm? Would we all slide into one kind of Purge-esque carnal anarchy, or would we keep going about our business, doing the chores, and tending the gardens, and still being neighborly and kind? Shute shows us the possibility of the latter scenario and it's utterly believeable--even to this cynic. Not often you get such a chilling, dark premise in a book, and finish it feeling strangely uplifted.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 03, 2016

On the Beach is like that breed of old sci-fi that has few redeeming qualities, but is worth every minute of it. On the Beach has a certain feel. I realize this is entirely ethereal reasoning and subject to personal tastes, but it has that presence that makes films like A Boy and His Dog, The Blob, or Them! classics forever. At times it's painful--like the neverending car race or the continual mentioning of pogo sticks--but there's just something about the book's atmosphere that makes these things bearable and the end product highly enjoyable.

l
lukasevansherman
Oct 12, 2014

Oh man, the end of the world is boring. Made into a film with Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner.

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TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 06, 2016

It's not the end of the world at all," he said. "It's only the end for us. The world will go on just the same, only we shan't be in it. I dare say it will get along all right without us.

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