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On the Beach

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  32,678 ratings  ·  2,318 reviews
After a nuclear World War III has destroyed most of the globe, the few remaining survivors in southern Australia await the radioactive cloud that is heading their way and bringing certain death to everyone in its path. Among them is an American submarine captain struggling to resist the knowledge that his wife and children in the United States must be dead. Then a faint Mo ...more
Paperback, 296 pages
Published October 31st 2002 by House of Stratus (first published July 1957)
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Kathy Phillips This was a sad, sad book. As I reached the last pages of the book I myself was sick with a cold and felt bad, so I kind of reached the point towards…moreThis was a sad, sad book. As I reached the last pages of the book I myself was sick with a cold and felt bad, so I kind of reached the point towards the end when I felt like I was dying...good grief. Glad I read it though.(less)

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Jeffrey Keeten
“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.”

 photo 923a08d5-7ac4-40e1-8533-0a8ec35137b8_zpsa1ff16d3.gif
An Instructional Manual from 1951 on what to do in the event of an A-Bomb attack.

On the Beach was published in 1957, but the novel is set in what was then the near future of 1963. Thattack.
Oct 17, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-end
it's the most pleasant apocalypse ever!there is war! there are bombs! and everyone in the southern hemisphere knows the rest of the world is dead dead dead and they are just waiting for the radiation to drift downwards where they will succumb to vomiting and diarrhea and weakness and eventual death. let me repeat: this is known. and so what do they do to prepare themselves? not a whole lot. they buy some presents for children they know are already dead in other parts of the world (yes, this mean ...more
Oct 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
It's a dystopian story that is possible, it could really happen. How a global nucular war would play out nobody knows, but Nevil Shute's version is realistic. It is tragic, horrific, romantic, and sad. It shows humanity at it's best and it's worst and makes us all wonder how we would react in a similar situation. The ending was brilliant; an instant tear in the eye and lump in the throat.
May 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 1001-read
This is definitely one of the silliest books I ever read. That's precisely why I kept reading! Imagine, you are living in a post-apocalyptic world and you are on the south coast of Australia where the last remaining people on earth are living. You are scheduled to die within a couple of months, so then tell me, do you really care if your daffodils are coming up next spring or whether you should be faithfull to your wife, far away in the U.S., who surely is dead as everyone else is over there? We ...more
"It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine..."

That line from the old REM song pretty much sums up Nevil Shute's "On the Beach." The world has ended and everyone's pretty much OK with it.

Written in the late 50's and set in the near future of the early 60's, "On the Beach" finds World War III has come and gone. The final battle was set off by a misunderstanding with the bigger nuclear powers shooting first and asking questions later. The result is the northern
Jun 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Nevil Shute’s On the Beach, originally published in 1957, is a post-apocalyptic novel which takes place in Melbourne, Australia a year or so after a nuclear World War III. This final world war was so devastating that radioactive clouds are slowly traveling the earth, and killing all people and animals in its wake. Due to some (probably not very) complicated weather and wind pattern science, Australia and it’s surrounding islands are just about the last inhabited places to be affected by the radi ...more
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff, 1950s, australia
Unlike many others by Nevil, I've only read this one once. Didn't see movie. Remember enjoying the Australian setting and characters, how Shute depicted their mindsets and behaviors.

Encourage readers who have read only this to try others by the author. Pied Piper, Round the Bend, and ... Alice.
Pied Piper
Unlike many others by Nevil, I've only read this one once. Didn't see movie. Remember enjoying the Australian setting and characters, how Shute depicted their mindsets and behaviors.

Encourage readers who have read only this to try others by the author. Pied Piper, Round the Bend, and ... Alice.
Pied Piper
Round the Bend
A Town Like Alice
A classic post holocaust speculation from when terrorism wasn't ...

When stationed at SAC, near Omaha, in the early 1960s, my barracks was closest to the flight line. The sounds of brakes on the big war birds ...

Recommended Genre Companion = Pat Frank's Babylon
Alas, Babylon
"Maybe we've been too silly to deserve a world like this," he said.

The population of a small town in Australia goes very, very gently into that good night as they wait for a cloud of nuclear fallout to reach them.

" . . . no wind does blow right into the Southern Hemisphere from the Northern Hemisphere. If it did we'd all be dead right now."

"I wish we were," she said bitterly. "It's like waiting to be hung."

"Maybe it is. Or maybe it's a period of grace."

For the most part, everyone goes about their business. They open t
This is a tricky book to review without spoilers, there is basically only one incident that drives the entire book, and that happens off the page before the book begins, and that event means that a certain thing is going to happen, to everybody, the problem is that this certain thing will happen to everyone anyway (sorry if that comes as a spoiler to you, but it does) so from a literary point of view the author either has to find some new or particular meaning or convince us that this is particu ...more
Nov 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle-purchase
This is a stirring, eerily believable short work by Nevil Shute. It is post WWIII and everyone in the world is dead except those who are in Australia and New Zealand. But, they are not safe, they are just waiting for the radiation to reach them. There is an ample mix of denial and acceptance in each of the characters, some of whom prepare for next year's garden even though they have been told the end is expected in a matter of months.

The main characters are a US submarine commander,
What do you do when all hope is lost?
For the people in this book about our world dying of radiation after an atomic war the answer seems to be carry on as normally as possible. Go to the beach, swim, sail, go to work, enjoy parties and drink, plant the daffodils, clear the trees and chop the wood .
There is no let up for the reader, always the knowledge that it will happen.
It's a bleak vision of a post apocalyptic world that is at once both terrifying and moving.
As I said
Apr 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All Mankind
Recommended to Carrie by: My excellent English Tutor
Hmmmmm.....probably one of the most sobering books I have ever read....plausible, poignant, post accidental left me mad at Man; mad at His stupidity; mad at His ridiculous striving after world dominance, instead of striving after world harmony.

Nevil Shute's sharply perceptive understanding of Human emotions is pure genius (I would have written 'mastery' there but I understand in some lands that word can be considered England, it is not....however, I
Deborah Ideiosepius
This is an old, absolute classic, of science fiction from the days before sci-fi and fiction had separate shelves in the bookstores, it is almost the prototype of dystopian fiction. Re-reading it after many years I wonder if it was one of the books that helped fix in the public's mind the notion of 'mutually assured destruction' and of just how costly to the planet nuclear war must be.

Despite the finality of the end, it is surprisingly not depressing, rather I found it a cleansing so
Dec 23, 2008 rated it did not like it
This book was recommended after my disappointment with Cormac McCarthy's "The Road." I cannot say it was an improvement.

The characters in the novel are largely one-dimension with little contrast and their interactions are superficial and or stereotypical. John is the lifelong geek who finally gets a thrill. Moira falls for Dwight based on a few half-drunk interactions; this kind of quick connection is the kind of poorly-earned romance typically found in bad movies. Mary is the stereo
Nov 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Well written & so plausible that it's scary, it's also survived the test of time very well. Written over 50 years ago in 1957 by engineer Nevel Shute Norman, an engineer who owned a firm that made secret stuff for the British government, it amazed me by how the politics & cause of the war are still so possible.

The book follows about 6 people for the last 6 months of their lives. There is no explicit sex or violence. The northern hemisphere has been turned into a radioactive w
Jun 27, 2008 rated it it was ok
This really is not a good book. It's a combination between an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel where everyone just sits around having double brandies all day (but with no sex) and the Plague(but with no gory details.) The premise, an atomic holocaust has obliterated the northern hemisphere and all of Australia awaits a radioactive cloud that is coming to kill everyone on earth in 6 month of time. The whole book is just a count down in which you get to know some of the most boring and two dimensional ch ...more
Amy Sturgis
It's appropriate that I should review this novel on the 65th anniversary of the successful test of the first atom bomb in Alamogordo, New Mexico. On the Beach is set in what was the near future to British-Australian author Nevil Shute, writing in 1957: 1963, approximately a year after World War III. The northern hemisphere has been devastated by nuclear war, and those in the southern hemisphere wait for the nuclear fallout to reach them. The story follows the lives of several Australians and one Amer ...more
Wayne Barrett

Actual 3.5

Based simply on how this book culminated to its end I really wanted to give it 5 stars. But I just can't. I guess I'll discuss my problem with the story first and save the best (the reason I would really like to give it a 5) for last.

One book in particular that always comes to my mind when thinking of dystopian literature is Cormack McCarthy's 'The Road'; the reason being the disturbing nature of the story. Nevil Shute's 'On The Beach' is a disturbing tale as we
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Dear God, that was depressing. Soul-crushingly depressing.

But considering this is a book about the end of the world, there’s no sense of urgency. There’s just this sense of complacency among most of the characters that drives me crazy. Captain Towers’s philosophy is a good example: “You just can’t dodge it. You’ve got to take what’s coming to you, and make the best of it. We’ve just got to take it.”

Towers (and the author, clearly) gets frustrated with Moira, my favourite character, because he thinks i
Oh God, Sebastian, what did you do to me? At Goodreads, we have a tradition in December called "The 12 Days of Goodreads" where we essentially send a chain email across the company with each person nominating a book to be given to the next person, and so on. We have 12 Days to complete the chain. In 2016, Sebastian, chose "On the Beach" for me. I must admit I was a bit grumpy about this as I had carefully cleaned up my Want to Read shelf to ensure maximum chances of getting a book I was really i ...more
Aug 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I read this book ages ago and it is one of my favourites. Clearly I have a bit of a morbid sense of enjoyment, given this is about the end of the world. The war is over and a radioactive cloud is slowly killing everyone in the world. An American submarine captain, Dwight Towers and his crew arrive on the shores of Australia: the last inhabitants of the world. Dwight Towers and his crew, along with the Australian Lieutenant-Commander Peter Holmes set out on a submarine mission to America to ident ...more
Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Reminded me of The Sun Also Rises. Sassy dame. Excessive drinking. Fishing.
Except it's way more interesting because everyone is about to die in a few months from radiation poisoning! YEAH!! Plus the sassy dame is funnier, nicer, and drinks even more!! I know, I know. Hemingway and all that. But it's my review and I can compare this book to some classic if I want to. Anyway I don't like Hemingway. Please take that as saying more about me and my literary idiocy than it says about Hemingway a
Nov 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

--On the Beach
Sep 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Probably the most heart-wrenching book I've read. It's the story of an all-out nuclear war. And, although Australia has been spared the bombs, the fallout is spreading and heading that way. It was so easy to deeply care about the characters as they live their final they they avoid preparation. Heavy, dark and emotional...but one of those books that envelopes you and that you never forget. I read it for the first time almost 20 years ago and it is still one of the best bo ...more
Dec 20, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Read this book if you're ever tempted to think that global nuclear war wasn't a real threat. People were scared shitless, with good reason.
(Revisited after a 35-year interval)

One can only imagine the conversation between Cormac McCarthy and Nevil Shute.

Written in 1957, at the height of the Cold War, Shute also imagines a post-apocalyptic world. Nuclear war has annihilated the countries of the northern hemisphere* and the radioactive plume is working its way slowly down south, killing everyone in its path. By the luck of geography, Melbourne will be the last major city to survive.

An American submarine has ma
Apr 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't expecting that I would be on the verge of tears, but the latter half, particularly the last chapter cannot be read without a poignant, heart-wrenching grief over the recognition "the world is going to end."
It was such a blow to me.

There is not much going on in the first half, just descriptions of the banality of everyday life, if you like, but in the latter half, the notion of dooms day slowly creeped in throughout, which made me feel so sad that I had to put it down.
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
[A 20th-century classic]

After reading ' A Town Like Alice' last year, I knew I would be picking up another Nevil Shute's book in no time. Little did I know that he can pull off a dystopian novel like no one else. Unlike the usual messed up version of some kind of future, we are faced with an end of humanity as a result of reckless and stupid nuclear war. It comes as a wave of radiation sweeping across the planet and causing all living things to die. The last largest city left untouch
Feb 21, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone wearing capri pants
Shelves: fiction

Shute makes some interesting narrative choices which lessen the dramatic tension rather than increase it. Nearly everything that happens in the novel is telegraphed from the beginning. We know the radiation is headed south and will arrive in September. We are led to believe everyone, all the characters Shute creates and everyone else living on earth, will die, (view spoiler). The only real tension comes on the Scorpion's journey to Seattle: what's
Nov 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Love this book, own it.

Story of a group of people waiting to die (really, they are) in Australia as a cloud of radioactive fallout moves closer and closer to them. (Most of the human population on Earth are already dead; the world has gone silent except for Australia.) The main characters go about their lives as much as possible and include the crew of the last nuclear sub (under Royal Australian command), a young married couple and their baby, a scientist who loves to drive race car
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Around the Year i...: On the Beach, by Nevil Shute 5 13 Apr 22, 2019 03:47AM  
Play Book Tag: On the Beach by Nevil Shute - 3 Stars 2 12 Mar 26, 2019 11:55AM  
Play Book Tag: LISTOPIA - On the Beach by Nevil Shute - 5 Stars 8 24 Apr 01, 2018 03:23PM  
Who else thinks that this book didn't age well? 12 227 Aug 01, 2017 04:05AM  
six months to live 16 139 May 22, 2014 11:49AM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: This topic has been closed to new comments. On the Beach by Nevil Shute 1 4 Jun 18, 2012 12:35PM  

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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.
“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.” 71 likes
“No, it wasn't an accident, I didn't say that. It was carefully planned, down to the tiniest mechanical and emotional detail. But it was a mistake.” 27 likes
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