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On the Beach Paperback – February 9, 2010
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“The most haunting evocation we have of a world dying of radiation after an atomic war.” —The New York Times
“The most shocking fiction I have read in years. What is shocking about it is both the idea and the sheer imaginative brilliance with which Mr. Shute brings it off.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“A novelist of intelligent and engaging quality, deservedly popular. . . . Nevil Shute was, in brief, the sort of novelist who genuinely touches the imagination and feeling.” —The Times (London)
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).
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Top customer reviews
Amazon should be embarrassed to put out this product without labeling it for what it is.
I had trouble reading the last thirty pages of this book. Once I picked up the rhythm that Shute used to tell his story I became immersed in the world he created. The book changed from a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel to something greater. On the Beach transcends generic boundaries and becomes an elegy for the human race in an extinction that has not happened yet. I had trouble reading because of the tears in my eyes.
On the Beach is one of the most emotionally powerful books I have read in a long time. After putting it down, I tried to reflect and determined it had been almost a decade, when I read Lawrence's _Sons and Lovers_ that I was so moved by a book. I have a tender heart, but this book is not emotionally manipulative in a transparent way that cheapens the effect. On the Beach is powerful because it asks and answers fundamental questions about our being in a way that is truthful to what it means t be human.
Shute asks: "What do we do in the face of death?" He shows that we live as much as we can. We love. We make plans for the future. While we face death individually, we move towards it collectively. We are all cosigned to the same fate, but we do not have the certainty of the time that his characters do. On the Beach is an extended metaphor in a way, and as such is both an elegy and a celebration of what it means to be human. Sometimes that is beauty in the face of horror, and both come from the same root.
This was so well written, it felt so very real, like time travelling back to the early 60s in a parallel world and actually watching the story unfold as it happened.
It had me from the first paragraph, and left me exhausted, deeply moved & emotionally wrung out on its last word. What more could you ask from a shining example of great 20th century literature?
A necessary, very human and still incredibly relevant book.
Everyone should read this. Cannot recommend highly enough!
The writing style, though, was a bit weird for me. It felt very flatly descriptive; the language was so to-the-point as to feel rather brusque; none of the characters seemed especially engaged with the upcoming end of life on earth. It was like a novel that got an aggressive rewrite by an author of technical manuals; it made it hard to stay connected with the story. So--really, I'd say four stars for story; two stars for execution.