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On the Beach
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Archive: Other Books > LISTOPIA - On the Beach by Nevil Shute - 5 Stars

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message 1: by Olivermagnus (last edited Mar 31, 2018 10:11AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

 Olivermagnus (lynda214) | 1952 comments Best Modern Australian Literature - #15

Published in 1957, On the Beach is particularly relevant in modern times in the ever present global conflicts and every country's refusal to rule out nuclear strikes. The world is in turmoil following a nuclear war in the Northern Hemisphere and the air is polluted with radioactive fallout killing anyone it touches within a matter of days. As the earth's air currents slowly force the radiation South, this story concentrates on how southern Australian's react to their impending death, focusing mainly on five main characters. We are introduced to Peter and Mary, a young family; Dwight, a US navy captain; Moira, a young woman who drinks too much; and Julian, her cousin. They each have different coping mechanisms with how they deal with their eventual death.

This novel may feel somewhat dated in the portrayal of its characters and their stoicism in the face of adversity, desperate hope, and resignation to the inevitable. The total self destruction of the human race would probably be much more horrible than the way it's portrayed in this book. It seems unbelievable that an entire community of people would face death with such an orderly sense of denial and detachment. I'm positive there would be looting and chaos in the streets if this had been written today. However, none of this detracts from the building hopelessness toward the inevitable conclusion. I found this was a book with a message: to raise awareness of the dangers of a nuclear war at a time when the costs of one were poorly understood. It continues to stay my mind long after I've finished reading. It's a chilling but very timely novel.

I took the opportunity when I was done with the book to watch the 1959 film starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire and Anthony Perkins. I enjoyed having the benefit of more of the back story via the novel, but the film had a much more emotional impact for me than the book. I highly recommend them both.


message 2: by Denizen (new) - added it

Denizen (den13) | 1138 comments I remember really liking this book when I read it in high school so many years ago.


Booknblues | 5501 comments Denizen wrote: "I remember really liking this book when I read it in high school so many years ago."

It was one of my high school assigned reading and I enjoyed it at the time.


Nicole D. | 1476 comments Loved this book


message 5: by Susie (new)

Susie | 4488 comments I’ve never read this and all of reviews make me think I must. Thanks for your review.


Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5639 comments I read this a couple of years ago, Lynda, and was really moved by it. I remember that I had dreams about this scenario while reading it. Very thought-provoking book.


Sushicat | 804 comments I also read this a couple of years ago. It made my top ten that year.


Cheryl (cherylllr) I happened to read just this past December, gave it four stars.


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