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Slide Rule Paperback – January 1, 2000

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Editorial Reviews


"Shute was a brilliant storyteller and terrific example for any writer" Daily Express "Most of my adult life, perhaps all the worthwhile part of it, has been spent messing about with airplanes" -- Nevil Shute "Any book by Nevil Shute is a delight" Punch --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Nevil Shute Norway was born in London and worked as an aeronautical engineer at Vickers before setting up his own airship company. Worried that his reputation as a fiction writer would damage his engineering career, he wrote without using his surname. He served in both world wars and was a commander in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve in World War II, working on secret projects. After the war he became a full time author completing a fictionalised account of his war time experience in 'Most Secret'. Moving to Australia in 1949 he based seven of his novels against that background including his most successful title On The Beach. This was subsequently a hugely successful film starring Gregory Peck, Antony Perkins and Ava Gardner and became arguably the major after the bomb movie of all time. Shute became one of the top selling authors of the 50s and 60s with wide appeal to a broad international market attracted by strong story lines which were always meticulously researched..

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 186 pages
  • Publisher: House of Stratus (January 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842322915
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842322918
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #319,930 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nevil Shute Norway was born in 1899 in Ealing, London. He studied Engineering Science at Balliol College, Oxford. Following his childhood passion, he entered the fledgling aircraft industry as an aeronautical engineer working to develop airships and, later, airplanes. In his spare time he began writing and he published his first novel, Marazan, in 1926, using the name Nevil Shute to protect his engineering career. In 1931 he married Frances Mary Heaton and they had two daughters. During the Second World War he joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve where he worked on developing secret weapons. After the war he continued to write and settled in Australia where he lived until his death in 1960. His most celebrated novels include Pied Piper (1942), A Town Like Alice (1950), and On the Beach (1957).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Hypersonic on January 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
Nevil Shute's autobiography is an extraordinary work, and captures the flavor and pace of early aeronautical development, as well as the challenges of trying to gain support for the burgeoning aircraft industry in the early 1920's-late 1930's. As well, it captures the dualism of the industry: the rivalry between proponents of large airships and proponents of airplanes for the future of air transportation. It is best remembered for its frank and merciless critique of the R-100 and R-101 airship programs, and the differences between the "capitalist" R-100 (which worked) and the "socialist" R-101 (which crashed disastrously, killing almost all on board). Shute writes with authority as an insider, and with the grace that characterizes his novels. In addition to this work, I would recommend that readers also read J. P. Morpurgo's biography of Barnes Wallis (entitled simply BARNES WALLIS). Shute worked for Wallis on the R-100, and Morpurgo's book offers its own very useful insights into the great British airship rivalry. As well, readers of this work should read Shute's posthumous novel STEPHEN MORRIS which is itself a surprisingly good work (it was his first attempt at a novel), and which carries on many of the themes he explores in his autobiography SLIDE RULE. In sum, SLIDE RULE belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in the history of flight, and, particularly, anyone involved in the design and development of aircraft for commercial or military purposes. An excellent read!!!
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A. Reynolds on February 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a fascinating autobiography of the early life of one of Britain's premier aeronautical engineers (and adventure novelists!). Nevil Norway was closely involved in pioneering work in the airship industry (a fascinating technological dead-end) and writes with verve and authority on his experiences of starting his own airplane works (no threat to Boeing!).
However, the story ends with his resignantion from Airspeed (his company) as the clouds of World War 2 are gathering. Shute Norway's later life seems to have been equally adventurous and I would dearly loved to have been able to read of his wartime experiences and his solo flight to Australia in the late 1940's.
Nevertheless, this is a well written and smooth reading work which is as well crafted and entertaining as any of his novels.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John Wildanger on August 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
Before he became a world famous novelist, Nevil Shute Norway started an aircraft company and built it up to over 1,000 staff. This was a company started in 1932 - the Great Depression.

How he did that and the types of issues he faced are fascinating. His thoughts on why he choose possibly inflated figures for some of his company's assets and risked going to jail as a way to obtain financing and prevent the lay off of 500 people during the depression are very memorable.

A great read.
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Format: Paperback
Slide Rule is Nevil Shute's autobiography from his childhood until 1940, and was published in 1954.

Nevil Shute Norway (1899-1960) is best known to me as Nevil Shute, the author of novels including: `No Highway'; `A Town Like Alice'; and `On the Beach'. He wrote 24 novels -many of which I've yet to read - as well as this autobiography. But there's another side to Nevil Shute Norway: he was involved in the early years of British aviation, including the competition to build a commercial airship between 1924 and 1930.

Nevil Shute Norway was educated at Shrewsbury School and Baliol College, Oxford. After a brief period at the Royal Military Academy, he worked for the De Havilland Company from 1920 to 1924. His work in the design and drafting of aircraft led to his being appointed to the Airship Guarantee Company where he rose to be the Chief of Engineering. During this period, there was a competition to build an airship which could be used for regular commercial traffic across the Atlantic.

`It was generally agreed in 1924 that the aeroplane would never be a very suitable vehicle for carrying passengers across the oceans, and that airships would operate all the long distance routes of the future.'

A competition was established, between Vickers Limited (which then established the Aircraft Guarantee Company (AGC) as a subsidiary wholly responsible for the airship construction) and the Air Ministry. Nevil Shute was on the AGC team. The government airship was the R101; the AGC airship was the R100. R100 successfully completed a return trip to Canada in July/August 1930. On the 4th of October 1930, R101 en route to India, crashed killing 48 people. Nevil Shute blames bureaucrats and bad engineers for a series of events which led to the crash.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Charles Hall on October 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book is a great read. It's Nevil Shute's non-fictional account of his years as an airplane designer prior to becoming a full time author. Over a third of the book relates his experiences as a junior engineer on the R.100 zeppelin construction project. Led by Barnes Wallis, the R.100 was built as a commercial project, simultaneously with the infamous government-designed R.101 which crashed with much loss of life on it's maiden voyage. This disaster put paid to the R.100 as well as it was never flown again.
After that, he helped found the Airspeed airplane company. His tales of keeping the start-up afloat are reminiscent of many of the dot-coms during recent years.
Shute writes very smoothly, and the book has the feel of a long conversation. If there's a flaw, it's that he doesn't talk much about the other people he met. It would be nice, for example, to see a few sentences on Barnes Wallis, designer of the R.100, the Lancaster bomber, and the dam busting bombs used in WW2.
That said, there's plenty to read here and this is one of those books you can't put down once you start.
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