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On the Beach
On the Beach
Author: Nevil Shute
"The most shocking fiction I have read in years. What is shocking about it is both the idea and the sheer imaginative brilliance with which Mr. Shute brings it off." — THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE — They are the last generation, the innocent victims of an accidental war, living out their last days, making do with what they have, hoping for a miracl...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780345311481
ISBN-10: 0345311485
Publication Date: 9/12/1983
Pages: 288
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.

3.8 stars, based on 113 ratings
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
Members Wishing: 0
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed On the Beach on + 720 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 12
I have owned this book 25-30 years; it is part of my permanent collection. It is one of the most riveting books I have ever read, and I have read it at least a half dozen times. It takes the reader into the lives and thoughts of a handful of people in Australia. Australian inhabitants are among the last survivors in the world after nuclear war. How the final survivors deal with the last days of their lives-- store their garden furniture for a spring they will never see, drain oil from cars up on blocks they will never drive again, put hay in fields for cattle that will momentarily outlive them. And finally, make decisions about passing with sicker spouses and family members, or outlining them for a tiny moment. After facilitating the end of the world, the various world governments thoughtfully provide little red boxes, free of charge, with a painless pill to free yourself of radiation sickness. And of course, an equally painless syringe, so you can also put down your pets--and kids.
Cattriona avatar reviewed On the Beach on + 200 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
Telling the story of a group of post-nuclear war citizens in Australia, this book is both frightening and horrifying. They try to come to terms with what has happened and what is to come, while at the same time living in a dichotomy, with one couple planning out their garden in one conversation, and how to end their lives with cyanide in the next. This book is much darker than "Alas, Babylon" but is a classic and the mental images Shute creates will stay with you for life. Highly recommended.
tish avatar reviewed On the Beach on + 384 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
i have read this book and seen the movie a number of times and never get over the images of people on the edge at the end of the world.
if you ever read this you will be more gentle with the world and look for peace everytwhere...and will never forget about the coke bottle
reviewed On the Beach on + 720 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is both one of the best and one of the saddest books I have read in my lifetime. The lives of a number of people are followed in the last year of their lives, after nuclear war. What they eat, how they tell their children, parents, pets and homes good-bye. I was drawn directly into their lives.
reviewed On the Beach on + 296 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is a famous book about the period right after the nuclear Armegeddon. It is a bit dated to the 50's-60's, but is a very good story.
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sarahinme avatar reviewed On the Beach on + 58 more book reviews
On the Beach is a horrifying portrayal of how people react when they know they will die. This is not the story of those who have an atomic bomb dropped on them, with bodies and raging war in front of their eyes, but rather the view of those who saw the whole war, did not take part in it, but eventually face the same consequences as those who waged it. It shows how these members of society act to preserve themselves and the lives they lead, and at a certain point give in to everything they wanted to do to begin with. It is hopelessness and acceptance, wrapped up in a disturbing package.
reviewed On the Beach on + 4 more book reviews
I love apocalyptic literature and as this one goes, it's a pretty good read and holds your interest. What differs in this book is that it dealt more with the personal and emotional experiences of the characters, not the chaos of a disrupted society as seen in most apocalyptic literature.
Mahala avatar reviewed On the Beach on + 192 more book reviews
After a nuclear war, radiation slowly drifts southwards, gradually killing off humanity there as it has already been killed off in the Northern Hemisphere. The end is less than a year away, yet Australians, and a few American naval refugees seek to maintain their daily lives in the face of doom, and even send an exploratory submarine northwards.
reviewed On the Beach on + 813 more book reviews
This is an early post-apocalypse novel (1957) of the penultimate war initiated, in of all places, Albania. North of Capricorn everything not blasted away is dead from radiation. Slowly, the wind is bringing the radiation further south. What does one do when the means and approximate time of the end is known? Disturbing at best: maybe even more so today than during the cold war.
reviewed On the Beach on + 26 more book reviews
The last generation...innocent victims of an accidental war, living out the last days, making plans that will never be carried out,making do with what they have--however temporary it might be--hoping for a miracle that will not come. As the deadly rain moves ever closer, and the world as we know it winds toward an inevitable end.
thundergodraiden avatar reviewed On the Beach on + 6 more book reviews
An interesting look at Mr. Shute's expectations of what world-ending crisis would look like. Maybe it's the fact that I didn't grow up in the 1950's, but none of what was going on seemed accurate to me and my expectations. The last 20 pages were, for me, the only interesting part of the whole book.
reviewed On the Beach on
Depressing, but a good read. Very interesting!
reviewed On the Beach on + 18 more book reviews
I had seen this movie years ago, & it was recently aired again (I think because of the "end of the world predictions") recently. I enjoyed it again & thought I would like to read it. Radiation from a senseless war has spread all over the world except for Australia, & the people there await their deaths, coping in different ways. I liked the book very much & it did not seem that "dated" although it is set in the late 1950s, I believe.
reviewed On the Beach on + 24 more book reviews
Much better then the movie!
reviewed On the Beach on + 37 more book reviews
I remember when this book, and then the movie came out. Chilling!
subtlenerd avatar reviewed On the Beach on + 29 more book reviews
Still relevant almost 50 years after it was written. Absorbingly despressing, however, it will make you think.
FoundItOnAnAirplane avatar reviewed On the Beach on + 30 more book reviews
Very colorful characterization and the plotting was just as fine. The circumstances described probably aren't very applicable anymore but it is an interesting story, nonetheless. I think after reading all of the reviews here and on other sites I was expecting a more survivalist story so I was not prepared for the ending or the pervasive tone of sadness throughout the book.
reviewed On the Beach on
From the back cover:

A wold-wide nuclear war-launched by accident-leaves only a handful of survivors. They hope for a miracle, but they know they are doomed.

How does a person live when he knows how he is going to die? Some carry on as usual...a few destroy themselves in a last mad grasp at life.

A shocker. "The most important novel of the atomic age. if you read only one book a year, this should be the one."-Washing Post