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Slide Rule

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  266 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Nevil Shute was a pioneer in the world of flying long before he began to write the stories that made him a bestselling novelist. This autobiography charts Shute’s path from childhood to his career as a gifted aeronautical engineer working at the forefront of the technological experimentation of the 1920s and 30s. The inspiration for many of the themes and concerns of Shute ...more
ebook, 300 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by Vintage (first published 1954)
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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
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
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘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
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
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
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
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.
Dana Stabenow
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.
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.
Andrew McClarnon
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
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.
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!
Dave Morris
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
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.
In the first half of this book, Shute writes of his early life and his family. Then he switches to writing about his business.
Derek Collett
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
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
David P
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
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
Christopher Bounds
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
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
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
Alasdair Craig
This autobiography is very dated, and limited in the number of events described. But it's still interesting in how writing novels came a distant second to his career in aeronautics.
Enjoyable account of Engineering practice and the beginning of a new industry, air passenger flight. First the false start of airships then the development of passenger carrying aeroplanes.
Interesting read a fascinating life.
Debra Nicolson
Bit too technical for me.
Newtoni marked it as to-read
Nov 02, 2015
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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...

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