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On the Beach

Introduction by Gideon Haigh

Fishing boats lay at anchor and they cruised around these, hailing, and examining them through the periscope. They learned nothing, save for the inference that when the end had come the people had died tidily.

Set in Melbourne following a catastrophic war in the northern hemisphere, Nevil Shute’s classic is the story of a handful of survivors in the terrifying aftermath of nuclear apocalypse.

First published in 1957—and famously adapted for the screen soon after by Stanley Kramer, in a film starring Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner—On the Beach is the perhaps the greatest work of popular fiction about the end of the world.


3RRR: Zero-G interview with Gideon Haigh
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Nevil Shute
About the Author

Nevil Shute was one of the most successful novelists of the twentieth century. He was born in London in 1899, studied at Oxford and became an aeronautical engineer before turning to fiction. He joined the Royal Navy during World War II. After the war Shute migrated to Australia, where he died in 1960 having written more than twenty books, the...

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Gideon  Haigh
About the Introducer

Gideon Haigh has been a journalist for three decades, writing mainly about sport and business. He is the author of more than thirty books, among them the award-winning On Warne, Certain Admissions and Stroke of Genius. He lives in Melbourne.

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Text publication date:
3 December 2019
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Praise for Nevil Shute
andOn the Beach

‘Arguably Australia’s most important novel…Remains devastating…An astounding achievement.’

‘The most evocative novel on the aftermath of a nuclear war.’

On the Beach played an important role in raising awareness about the threat of nuclear war. We stared into the abyss and then stepped back from the brink.’

‘The rerelease has got an essay at the front from by Gideon Haigh, which immediately makes it worthwhile.’