Darwin is a ghost town, and radiation levels at Ayres Rock are increasing. An American nuclear-powered submarine has found its way to Australia, where its captain has placed the boat under the command of the Australian Navy. Commander Dwight Towers and his Australian liaison officer are sent to the coast of North America to discover whether a stray radio signal originating from near Seattle is a sign of life.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Jockette61 on 30-06-13
I read this book probably 35y ago - and every part of it has stayed with me. The audio version is thoroughly gripping - a quietly told tale of Armageddon. Whether reading the book or listening to it, it makes me sob every time.
As with other Shute books, yes it is very 'of its time' and could be seen as dated and too 'stiff upper lip-ish'. Don't let that put you off - this book will stay in your memory for a very long time.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Jason on 28-12-10
What could have been.
An almost true story about the aftermath of the very brief WWIII (due to the inclusion of nukes). Considering how one man prevented this from happening during the Cuban Missile Crisis, this story is quite realistic. It lets you look into the psychology of people who have the luxury/curse of knowing the date of their death because of the upcoming nuclear fallout. It gives them fear while also letting them truly live. It's an interesting concept to observe as you wonder just how you would live if you knew when you were going to die. Nevil Shute pulls no punches as this is a very sad story overall.
Be warned however that unless you find the subject matter fascinating you may not greatly enjoy this. It can be a little depressing and there isn't much excitement in the story. It is more about observing how ordinary people in Australia live knowing they will soon be dead because of a war they did not want.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
By apocalyptic fiction on 06-09-12
Nuclear War Classic
On the Beach, written by Nevil Shute and published in 1957 is a somber post apocalyptic novel that follows survivors in Australia after a nuclear war and subsequent radioactive fallout has contaminated most of the world. Much of the story revolves around an American nuclear submarine, the last of the US Navy, docked in Melbourne and under the command of Captain Dwight Towers. The post apocalyptic world has been contaminated with high levels of radiation stemming from the use of cobalt bombs by the Russian and Chinese military forces. This story is character driven, focusing on the struggle for people to maintain some sense of purpose in spite of their doom. It was slightly disappointing that most of the people in On the Beach basically give up and passively accept death. Why didn’t they attempt to create a shelter in which some people could survive until the levels of radioactivity decreased? (scientists mention several times that the radioactive cobalt has a 5-10 year half-life) Released at the height of the Cold War, On the Beach has elements of a warning or cautionary tale and is clearly written with some political intentions in mind. While On the Beach is a well written novel that explores some important ideas worthy of consideration, it is slow-paced and uneventful at times. If you are looking for excitement and entertainment you may want to look at some other reading options.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful