On the Beach

Shute, Nevil

Book - 2010
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
On the Beach
Following a nuclear war in the Northern Hemisphere, the inhabitants of a small Australian community wait for the inevitable aftereffects of the bombs to reach them.

Publisher: New York : Vintage International, 2010
Edition: 1st Vintage International ed
ISBN: 0307473996
Branch Call Number: FICTION SHUTE 2010
Characteristics: 312 p. ;,21 cm


From Library Staff

As a radioactive cloud moves from the northern to the southern hemisphere all life is slowly extinguished. The citizens of Australia are the last to go and Shute’s novel slowly reveals the story of the end of their lives.

This is both a great novel and film. The U.S. and the U.S.S.R. have destroyed each other in a nuclear holocaust. The Northern Hemisphere is a radioactive wasteland and the fallout is slowly moving south. Those living in Australia are faced with the certainty of death. This includes the crew of th... Read More »

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Oct 12, 2014
  • lukasevansherman rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

Oh man, the end of the world is boring. Made into a film with Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner.

Apr 25, 2014

I tried but too much tedious dialogue for my tastes, I ended up skimming through it. Not what I expected.

Aug 08, 2013
  • jgwening rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Reads like a classic. Lots of dialogue between the characters. Not a lot of action. Not your typical modern day apocalyspe or post novel. Language and dialogue are colorful and I think definitely representative of the era and the region. The characters are entertaining but I also found myself frustrated in the way some of them avoid the inevitable end. But I guess everyone would handle this situation differently.

Feb 22, 2013
  • Rasputin45 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Brutal. The best apocalypse book out there, period. I want to start over and read it again.

fmaack makes the claim that "nuclear fallout would not spread to areas which have not been bombed." This is nonsence!
If a thermalnuclear war were to break out every major city would be targeted. ...so here are some sinarios to consider: (and a 1 megaton hydrogen blast hypothetically is 80 times more powerful than the blast on Hiroshima).

1 Megaton Surface Blast: Fallout
One of the effects of nuclear weapons detonated on or near the earth’s surface is the resulting radioactive fallout. Immediately after the detonation, a great deal of earth and debris, made radioactive by the blast, is carried high into the atmosphere, forming a mushroom cloud. The material drifts downwind and gradually falls back to earth, contaminating thousands of square miles. This page describes the fallout pattern over a seven-day period.

Wind speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: due east
Time frame: 7 days

3,000 Rem*
Distance: 30 miles
Much more than a lethal dose of radiation. Death can occur within hours of exposure. About 10 years will need to pass before levels of radioactivity in this area drop low enough to be considered safe, by U.S. peacetime standards.

900 Rem
Distance: 90 miles
A lethal dose of radiation. Death occurs from two to fourteen days.

300 Rem
Distance: 160 miles
Causes extensive internal damage, including harm to nerve cells and the cells that line the digestive tract, and results in a loss of white blood cells. Temporary hair loss is another result.

90 Rem
Distance: 250 miles
Causes a temporary decrease in white blood cells, although there are no immediate harmful effects. Two to three years will need to pass before radioactivity levels in this area drop low enough to be considered safe, by U.S. peacetime standards.

*Rem: Stands for “roentgen equivalent man.” This is a measurement used to quantify the amount of radiation that will produce certain biological effects.

Apr 09, 2012
  • wearenotamused rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Extreme depth conveyed through subtle, simple prose. Makes it point in a understated yet powerful way, much like the quote at the beginning of the book by T.S. Eliot:
This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper

Nov 25, 2010
  • macierules rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Not a good selection to read at the same time as North and South Korea are shooting at each other..however, maybe everyone should read it. I find old-school science fiction really quite fascinating.

The story takes place in Melbourne Australia in 1963. The northern hemisphere has just been destroyed by nuclear war and the poor folks in the south are simply waiting for the fallout to hit. They have about 6 months to live with this knowledge and the calm acceptance of it all was very eery. Things were so calm, at times I found the plot rather dull!

I don't enjoy counting down time at New Years - let alone counting down time to the end of the world.

Sep 22, 2010
  • fmaack rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

A classic apocalyptic novel from the 1950s. It's great even if the science is completely backward. Nuclear war would kill billions but nuclear fallout would not spread to areas which have not been bombed. It is still a very good book and worth reading!

Apr 12, 2010
  • Bells rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

The last survivors of a worldwide nuclear holocaust wait for the radiation sickness to wipe them out. Some cling to hope and immerse themselves in day-to-day activities, while some await the end. This was a strange book in some ways. It was somewhat anti-climactic, yet in a way that made it all the more compelling. It made me weep, and the story stuck with me long after I was finished.


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