Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Slide Rule” as Want to Read:
Slide Rule
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Slide Rule

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  351 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
Nevil Shute best describes this autobiography in his own words: "Most of my adult life, perhaps all the worthwhile part of it, has been spent messing about with airplanes. For 30 years there was a period when airplanes would fly when you wanted them to, but there were still fresh things to be learned on every flight, a period when airplanes were small and so easily built t ...more
Paperback, 171 pages
Published July 1st 2002 by House of Stratus (first published 1954)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Slide Rule, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Slide Rule

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Apr 19, 2017 Stephen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Detailed book into the authors life designing planes and airships but sadly wasnt my cup of tea
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]It's a book in three parts: the first couple of chapters describe Shute's boyhood and youth, where the most exciting part is his close observation of the Easter Rising of 1916 - his father, as it happens, was the Secretary of the Irish Post Office, so there is a certain immediacy to Shute's account, from an angle one doesn't often get - that of a middle-class English teenager pressed into service as a stretcher-bearer.[return][return]Then a b ...more
Nov 30, 2010 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I started reading this book because of the wrecked dirigible on the cover of my edition. I have always been fascinated with them as a means of transport of heavy materials. I did not know that Mr. Shute was Norwegian nor that he worked on one of the only two English dirigibles. Thus, only the first half of the book did I find really interesting. I was more interested in the specifics of the dirigible than in Mr. Shute.
David P
Nov 29, 2012 David P rated it it was amazing
Let there be no mistake: this is an old book, out of print, the life story of Nevil Shute. If you can find it in a library or on a second-hand book rack, by all means, get it.

Nevil Shute was a British writer, and in the year after World War II some of his novels became well-known the world over. Most famous was "On the Beach," an end-of-the-world story set in Australia, after a nuclear holocaust that had destroyed Europe and America, a gloomy book and not Shute's best. "No Highway" tells about
Dec 26, 2010 Ilya rated it really liked it
Shelves: engineering, aviation
Nevil Norway (he wrote under his middle name Shute to keep his writing career and his engineering career apart) was born in 1899 to a senior English civil servant. In a society as unequal as England before World War I, life was nice if you were near the top: his father had 3 servants, a gardener and a gardener's boy, while putting his two sons through private schools. Nevil was interested in flight and engineering from an early age. During World War I, Nevil's older brother was wounded and died ...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
Feb 28, 2011 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it really liked it
Shelves: lent-by-friend
‘Most of my adult life ... has been spent messing about with aeroplanes.’

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 Bri
JZ Temple
Aug 23, 2007 JZ Temple rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Most readers are familiar with Nevil Shute, author of numerous novels, many with aviation themes. Few however have probably read this book, his autobiography. Nevil Shute Norway grew up in the early part of the twentieth century, just a bit too young to have participated in World War I. His description of the almost fatalistic approach he took towards becoming a soldier and, he was very sure, dying in the trenches, is very surprising.

After the war he drifted into the nascent commercial aviation
Sep 28, 2008 Jonathan rated it liked it
Mr Norway was at the heart of many of the dramatic events of the early 20th Century. Before he gave up to become a renowned novelist he served as a stretcher bearer during the Easter rising, observing the rebels shooting horses from the Dublin Post Office, lost his older brother in the first world war, worked on the successful Airship R100 and travelled to Canada upon it, learned to fly and founded his own aircraft company which was eventually folded into de Havilland.

He is good and interesting
Jan 20, 2008 Yvor rated it liked it
This is an autobiography of Nevil Shute, one of my favorite authors. It focuses on his engineering career in the early aerospace industry in the U.K. Individuals interested in the early history of the airplane (and airship/blimp) manufacturing industry would find this interesting. It touches on the author's career as a writer, but does not go into that aspect of his life in great depth. I would recommend it as a good read only based on very specific interests--engineering, aircraft, aircraft des ...more
Dana Stabenow
Jun 15, 2010 Dana Stabenow rated it really liked it
Before he wrote the post-apocalyptic classic On the Beach and the Australian romance A Town like Alice, Shute was an engineer working at the cutting edge of aviation. In Slide Rule, among other things, he tells the story of the British government sponsoring the simultaneous building of two dirigibles, one by private industry and one by government subsidy. The results are exactly what you might expect. A, you should pardon the pun, riveting read.
Apr 13, 2008 Stuart rated it liked it
Part one of Shute’s sadly incomplete autobiography, this book tells the story of his early years as an aviation engineer, his love of flying, his incurable writing habit, and his role in Britain’s R-100 dirigible project between the World Wars. An absolutely ripping memoir. Too bad he never finished (or published) part 2, where he did classified work for the Crown during WW2, or (better still) part 3, in which he immigrated to Australia and became a Buddhist.
May 11, 2010 Deb rated it really liked it
Amazing that Nevil Shute was so much prouder of his achievements as an engineer than of the fiction he wrote. A pity this autobiography ends when he is aged 54; I would have liked to know if his ideas changed at all before he died. He certainly believed in private enterprise, and in a rather naive way, but his heart was in the right place.
Jul 13, 2011 Bert rated it it was amazing
What a good book. I'm surprised it hasn't been done as a movie. A look back at when airships were the future of travel.
Jan 21, 2009 Reader2007 rated it really liked it
In the first half of this book, Shute writes of his early life and his family. Then he switches to writing about his business.
Apr 23, 2011 Lisa rated it did not like it
I read everything I could find by Nevil Shute when I first discovered him, and I really enjoyed his fiction, so it was disappointing to discover that I would not have liked this man one little bit!
Nevil Shute (1899-1960; full name Nevil Shute Norway) was a popular English novelist in the middle decades of the twentieth century. Slide rule is his memoir of his earlier life, focusing on his adult years when he earned his living as an engineer and a businessman. Shute's father was a high ranking civil servant in the British Post Office. Shute was educated at private schools, and, after a stint in the British army towards the end of the First World War (he saw no action), at Oxford University ...more
Feb 23, 2015 Rod rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Nevil Shute (Norway) is of course a well known novelist, best known for the apocalyptic nuclear war novel "On the Beach." This memoir describes his career as an engineer and manager in the early days of the aircraft industry.

Of particular interest is his description of the design contest for an advanced dirigible conducted by the British Ministry of Air in the mid 1920's. It's important to keep in mind that at this point lighter than air craft appeared to be the best long term solution to passen
Slide Rule is Nevil Shute Norway's autobiography about his early years as an aeronautical engineer. It only briefly touches on his sometimes parallel career as author Nevil Shute.

The first half of the book covers his involvement during the late 1920's up to 1930 in a very exciting venture in which England sought to develop its own aeroship along the lines of the success of the German Zeppelins. The development was set up in the form of a competition in which one aeroship would be designed and b
Mar 17, 2014 Scilla rated it liked it
This was an interesting book, but a little slow going. It begins with a little about Shute's childhood.He had a stammering problem and had some trouble getting a commission into the service because of it. He finally enlisted near the end of WWI. After the war, he went to Oxford. He wrote a couple of books during college, but published During vacations he helped to sail a yacht and then got into aircraft at Airco and deHavilands, and then learned to fly. He finally go a job working on the R100 wh ...more
Andrew McClarnon
Dec 31, 2014 Andrew McClarnon rated it liked it
An interesting quick read. It's not really a full biography, more of a trilogy of connected essays, all of which are interesting in themselves, and as incidental period pieces now that history has moved on a half century from the time of writing. Moments that struck me as I read, the fact that his father could take a six week winter break (did the comfortably off ever work in those days?), the description of members of the crew taking a break sitting on the top, outside of the airship while it w ...more
Kevin Findley
This one by Shute was a mix of his personal and professional biographies. While it's always interesting to get that glimpse into a writer's background, his first-hand account of the growth of British aviation is much more fascinating. The contest between government agencies and private enterprise to build an airship pulls you into that time and doesn't let go until the crash of the R101 and that last day when the R100 is hangered and left to rot.

The remainder of Slide Rule is devoted to the gro
Dave Morris
Nov 29, 2014 Dave Morris rated it really liked it
A first-class storyteller tells us about his early life, much of which is spent mucking about in airships. Not just any airships, either. Nevil Shute (Nevil S Norway, that is) was on the design team of the HMA R100 and part of the book is is diary of the test flight to Canada. The shenanigans of airship development are not really so different from working in the games or TV industries, a point that was brought home to me when Shute mentions that the Air Ministry officials who are least likely to ...more
Derek Collett
Jul 21, 2015 Derek Collett rated it liked it
This book deals almost exclusively with the author’s work in the aviation industry, his writing is barely mentioned at all and the story concludes in 1938, more than 20 years before Shute died. Calling it an 'autobiography' therefore is a bit of a con! Having said that, the lengthy middle section about the R100 airship is superb and other aspects of his life story also make for interesting reading. Just don't come to this expecting to find illuminating insights into the writing of Shute's novels ...more
Oct 03, 2014 Bfisher rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Reading this book was a peculiar experience. I was aware of Shute only as a writer, especially of "On the Beach", so I had expected to read the story of a writers life. However, it is the story of Shute's initial career as an aeronautical engineer, initially as a key player in the team building Britain's R100 airship, and then as one of the founders of Airspeed, a player in the British aircraft industry during the evolution from the heroic age of aviation into the beginnings of commercial aviati ...more
Jun 19, 2015 Sue rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, england
Nevil Shute Norway was an engineer by trade and spent the first 20 years of his career as such. The writing of novels was a hobby of his, as an evening diversion from his day job. Slide Rule is his autobiography of those early years and his involvement with the developing aero industry.
It is interesting to read this after having read a number of his novels because it is clear to see where he drew his inspiration from. Some of this is the technical aspects of business and is dry reading, yet I w
Feb 11, 2012 Sophie rated it liked it
Having read and enjoyed several of Nevil Shute's books, I wanted to learn a bit more about the author himself. Covering childhood to retirement, the books main focus is his love of the airplane industry.
At times the technical detail of airplane building it a little tough going, however the story of the private R100 vs the ill-fated government backed R101 is interesting.
A book of its time as regards language/attitudes to women.

A must read for the aviation enthusiast & of interest to those wh
Mar 30, 2016 Laurie rated it it was ok
A very technical read about his working life with airplanes/airships and the beginnings of his company, Airspeed Ltd. There is almost no personal info about his family or writing career, other than to say that writing was his post-workday pleasure. I would have liked to read more about his writing career and his move from England to Australia later in life. It ended somewhat abruptly - I read the Kindle edition and almost felt like I was only sold half the book. Sadly I don't think that's the ca ...more
Mar 14, 2016 Gabrielle rated it really liked it
I've loved Nevil Shute books for years, ever since my mum first introduced me to "A Town Like Alice" (still my all time favourite!), and so it was really interesting to read this autobiography. Fascinating personal history of the early years of aviation in England, complete with social and political commentary. Some of the technical details went a bit over my head (high school physics could only help me so much!), but I presume some readers will appreciate it. The author's honesty and self-criti ...more
Christopher Bounds
Dec 29, 2013 Christopher Bounds rated it really liked it
After many years, it has been a pleasure to pick this book up and read this story of the early years of aviation. Shute is a much under-valued writer these days, particularly in Australia, where he portrays a world of the Forties and Fifties now submerged beneath all the changes that have taken place since, but still recognisable and worthy of recall in his stories. This is a great piece of autobiography, and full of surprises — as a callow youth, I had no idea of the importance of the Dublin GP ...more
George Anderson
Jun 07, 2016 George Anderson rated it it was amazing
The author of On the Beach has a lot to say about building airships and describes in detail their operations and what it was like to fly in them. He participated in the design of the R100- one of two UK airships built between the wars . The other, R-101, crashed in 1930 on its first extended flight killing all but six of its 54 occupants.
Overall, a tale where technical competence is pitted against the distorted perceptions and dogmatic decisions of civil servants.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • A Thread Across the Ocean: The Heroic Story of the Transatlantic Cable
  • Harold: The Last of the Saxon Kings
  • Tolkien's Gown & Other Stories of Great Authors and Rare Books
  • Seven Men of Gascony (Classics of Military Fiction)
  • Urban Grimshaw And The Shed Crew
  • Mrs. Jordan's Profession: The Actress and the Prince
  • The Pursuit of Power
  • Queen Victoria's Little Wars
  • Joseph Banks: A Life
  • Cats In The Belfry
  • London: A Life in Maps
  • The River
  • The Honourable Company: a History of the English East India Company
  • Epiphany: Stories
  • Redcoat: The British Soldier in the Age of Horse and Musket
  • The Sport of Queens
  • Two Under the Indian Sun
  • Size Matters Not: The Extraordinary Life And Career Of Warwick Davis
Nevil Shute Norway was a popular British novelist and a successful aeronautical engineer.

He used Nevil Shute as his pen name, and his full name in his engineering career, in order to protect his engineering career from any potential negative publicity in connection with his novels.

He lived in Australia for the ten years before his death.
More about Nevil Shute...

Share This Book

“Adventure” 0 likes
“Round the next corner and in the next street Adventure lies in wait for you. Oh, who can tell what you may meet Round the next corner and in the next street! Could life be anything but sweet When all is hazardous and new? Round the next corner and in the next street Adventure lies in wait for you. That” 0 likes
More quotes…