Book Review

2001-3/September , 2001

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Another month has come and gone, and it is time for the third monthly newsletter of this series.


The web site continues to mature under the watchful eyes of webmeister Jack Calaway. Those who have not checked it out recently are invited to do so. All comments and suggestions are welcome.

After the masthead photo of Nevil was changed to his mature author publicity photo, we invited readers to submit their favorite NSN photos for contention as a possible replacement. Having received no responses, the present photo is it (until/unless someone comes up with something better).

In that regard, we have decided to hold another contest of sorts. Astute observers will have noticed that there is a painting on the wall in the background of the current photo. The first Shutist who can positively identify the painting and artist will win his/her choice of a new Paper Tiger hardbound NSN edition, courtesy of the NSN Foundation Library. A clue: If I am not mistaken, Johan Bakker may have an edge in this contest.


We have recently added a CHARACTERS page to the site, with a separate section for each character. Both major and minor characters are eligible for inclusion. The idea is to provide a bio/analysis of each character, including which book(s) he or she appears in, who the character may be based on, and his or her salient characteristics. To date, there have only been two analyses submitted. However, we have promises of a half dozen more on the way. Fred Erisman has volunteered to do one on Donald Ross, and Fred's wife Patt has volunteered to do several comparative analyses on NSN's female characters. Also, Beall Fowler has volunteered to do analyses on Tom Cutter, John Sidney Howard, David Anderson, Janet Prentice. Stay tuned, and please feel free to submit your own analyses.


The NSN Lending Library continues to serve the needs of the Shutist community. To date, we have 91 past and present patrons, of whom 20 currently have items on loan. Checking my records, I see that I have averaged two or three trips a week to the post office over the past year to mail out loaner items from the Library. In addition to loans within the United States, we have furnished items to patrons in Australia, Canada, Cyprus, France, India, Israel, Oman, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Most often, these are items are to be used for reading, viewing or listening pleasure. However, there has recently been an increasing demand for research support.


From Fred Weiss at Paper Tiger:

I am pleased to announce the availability of Marazan to my series of Nevil Shute hardcover reprints. (That now makes a total of 6). A Special introductory price is available on my web page at: I'm also offering a special price on all 6 titles at: NSL members can email me privately to receive additional discounts on any of my titles or combinations of titles. Once again I'd like to thank our very own Johan Bakker for his invaluable assistance in meticulously proofreading our scans in preparation for printing. - Fred


Congratulations to Fred Erisman!

Professor Fred Erisman, one of our most popular speakers at the Centennial, and a long time Shutist, has been named to the Smithsonian's Charles A. Lindbergh Chair in Aerospace History for the year 2002-2003. This is a one year research appointment, sponsored by the National Air & Space Museum. See Freds note under Letters to the Editor below.


Not much to report on the UK front this month. We still have a number of volunteers ready to assist, but no one to take the management reins. If anyone of our UK Shutists thinks he or she would be willing to take over, please, please step forward. Zia and I have kept very good records of the two previous gatherings, and stand ready to assist in every way possible. However, we are not able to manage another gathering long distance, as we did with OZ2001. If UK2003 is to become a reality, and we really feel that it should, someone must come forward to manage it.



Dear Dan:

If you've not already assigned him to someone else, I'd like to speak for Donald Ross, of AN OLD CAPTIVITY. His love of airplanes and his inherent conscientious have spoken to me ever since I first encountered the book, and I think he's one of NSN's characters who's often overlooked.

Another matter: Some good fortune has come my way in that the National Air & Space Museum in Washington is going to invite me to take the Charles Lindbergh Chair of Aerospace History for the 2002-2003 year. This is a one-year research appointment that provides an office in the Museum, full access to the curators and artifacts, a modest research budget, and a stipend healthy enough to make a year in Washington do-able.

The award is basically to continue my work with American boys' aviation series books of the 1920s through the 1950s, but I'd like to think that the work on NSN played a part in helping me to win it. There's probably a downside to it somewhere, but, at the moment, the thought of a year's messing about with old airplanes is as close to a dream appointment as I can imagine.

All best, Fred


Dear Dan,

Thanks for the rebirth of the NSN newsletter and web site. It was a joy to read your latest newsletter and information about the Colorado chapter. Linny and I were able to attend the New Jersey meeting in late spring and hope to join them again in October. We had one get-together with our local informal 3-family NSN group after Australia, and I am pretty certain that at least one of our local friends will join us in England in 2003.

We recently visited the outstanding air and space museum in Balboa Park in San Diego. This visit triggered a thought -- if there are any Shutists in the San Diego area, I think that they could interest some of the many volunteers at that museum. And, the museum gift shop would be a perfect venue for the sale of some of Shute's books, particularly those related to aircraft.

Best regards to you and Zia, Beall Fowler


After spending a lot longer than I cared to in hospital, it was a delight to come home and find that things 'Neville Shute' were alive and well on the web. Congratulations to all concerned for a job well done.

I was particularly pleased to find the review of IN THE WET since it expressed my own views far better than I could have done myself. IN THE WET has long been one of my favorite stories and the issue of the multiple vote has been the topic of conversation on many a hike in the mountains.

One question. In the Newsletter I get some weird punctuation marks showing up. I use Netscape, is that the problem? The news is still highly legible so it is not a big concern.

Congratulations and thanks for the work you are doing, it is truly appreciated in this part of Canada.

Yours, Peter Holdstock

(Editor's note: Apparently, quotation marks, apostrophes, and a few other forms of punctuation do not translate well across servers, word processing programs, etc. I will try to avoid them as much as possible in the future.)


Hello - This is Alan Rockman from Upland, California.

I've always been fascinated, perhaps morbidly, with the dynamics of ON THE BEACH. I remember when I was 9, at just about the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the movie was first aired on US television. I asked my parents about the story behind it, and they were nonplussed to give me an answer. They seemed to imply that there had been a nuclear war alright, but that there were people still alive in the USA, and that Commander Towers (Gregory Peck) had sailed to Australia to seek out food supplies!!! I guess that it is hard to discuss the end of the world!

Now, my question is this...Shute of course left an awful lot to the imagination in this work, as he did in so many others. But does anyone know how did he come up with the scenarios - Russia and China possessing Cobalt Bombs by 1964? The SCORPION during its war cruise not (???) firing on the Soviet Union? The quick going-out of all mankind in the Northern Hemisphere, even with the war lasting over a month??? - and also the fact that Australia and other Southern Hemisphere nations (in the book) lasting nearly two years after the end of the war - some accounts state that Cobalt fallout would have reached Australia much sooner, if not at all.

Or the General Sir Douglas Froude proclaiming: -Stuff and Bloody Nonsense. I saw this coming 20 years ago- - 20 years ago in the books chronological age would have placed it in 1943, 44 - when Russia and China were still allies of the Western Powers and certainly not yet adversaries of each other.

I found it interesting that Shute left things so purposely vague. The reaction of the SCORPION crew for example, when all hope was lost after the voyage to Seattle...the discovery of the dead in Seattle - the deliberation decision of Captain Shaw to stay in Brisbane...and what kind of character Shaw was - or the hapless Prime Minister Ritchie??? And just when did Shute feel that Mankind was capable of obliterating itself..Does anyone know if the monstrous H-Bomb explosions over Bikini Atoll in the Spring of 1954 influenced him - being that they were so close to Australia???

Granted, the war may not take center role in the book, but it is indee the main focus of it, and the impact of the aftermath on the characters - as well as the rest of us.

A lot of questions - but ON THE BEACH caused many questions for me. Maybe some of you might have the answers. It would be fascinating how Shute decided to write such a momentous work.

Alan Rockman

And from in Switzerland:

Dear Friends

For a long time already I am a fan of Nevil Shute. I would like to apply for membership and/or newsletter. Is there a procedure which I have to follow ? I am based in Switzerland.

My favourite books (until now) are A TOWN LIKE ALICE and THE TRUSTEE, but as I see when glancing on the website, that there are many others to be read soon. I look forward to reading many, many other books. Other favourite authors of mine are H. E. Bates and Dirk Bogarde. And I do not despise the first novel of Joan Rowlings HARRY POTTER.

The discovery of this website made this day nearly perfect. Wow, you made my day. I am happy!

With kind regards, Martin Wagner

That's it for this month. Keep those cards and letters coming!

Regards from TLOE,

Nevil Shute Norway