Book Review

2001-4/October , 2001

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It is impossible to write this newsletter without mention of the September 11 tragedy. However, I do not want to dwell on it, nor do I want to open the Newsletter to discussions concerning who is at fault, what should or should not be done, etc. The newspapers and television programs of the world are more appropriate for that discussion.

What I do want to do is acknowledge and thank all our Shutist friends from around the world who have communicated their sympathy and support. Every letter I have received from abroad, whether it was input for the Newsletter, a library request, or just a note to say hello, has opened with heartfelt expressions of concern.

I would also like to especially thank our friends in Gander, Newfoundland, Shutists and non Shutists alike. My daughter was en route from Morocco via Paris when the events of September 11 took place. She, and approximately 11,000 other passengers on 60 flights headed for the Eastern US, were all diverted to Gander, where they remained four days. The Gander population (under 10,000) opened their arms to the stranded passengers, closed schools and businesses to create space and transportation for their guests, took them into their homes, fed them, provided toiletry packets and new clothes, etc. Heartfelt thanks to all!

One final comment: Where is Connie Shak Lin when we really need him?


Those of you who tried to access the web site in the past week or so found that it apparently no longer existed. The site was shut down as the culmination of a history of problems encountered with our server, beginning the first day we signed on with them. Now, however, the site is back up on a new server, and all is right in NSN land.

No one has yet attempted to identify the portrait behind Nevil in our masthead photo. The offer of a new Paper Tiger edition of choice is still open to the first person who can identify the portrait. Another clue: I may be mistaken, but I believe the portrait is of a wealthy gentleman, or perhaps a minor noble, painted in the time and general style of Rembrandt. I will not offer greater detail lest my almost total ignorance of art be revealed.


To date, there have only been three analyses of Nevil Shute characters submitted and added to the Characters section of the web site. We have promises of a dozen or so more in the works. Please check out the section, get your word processor programs warmed up, and have a go at your favorite Shute characters.


The NSN Lending Library is now approaching 100 past and present patrons, of whom 20-25 currently have items on loan. This past month, we have added borrowers from Canada, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland, in addition to various areas of the US.


Not yet hot off the press: Fred Weiss of Paper Tiger, long time (and long suffering abused volunteer typist) Jere Schermerhorn, and yours truly are working toward the publication of the first new Nevil Shute book since Stephen Morris was published posthumously in 1960. It is to be a very slightly edited version of a previously unpublished novella, up until now only available in manuscript form. Stay tuned for breaking news!!


We still do not have a manager for UK 2003, although we do have a number of volunteers ready to assist. I have thought about this a good deal lately, and have reached the following tentative conclusion. UK2003 should become a reality, even if it is not on the scale of the Centennial and OZ2001. If nothing else, we will announce that we will meet on X date, at Y hotel in conjunction with Z antique airshow in the UK, or something of the sort, and invite all who are interested to participate. If there is sufficient response, we can develop a more detailed program, but it may not be as complex as those of events past. After all, the Centennial started out to be a small birthday party/dinner. It just got out of hand!

On the other hand, if someone in the UK will step forward to take over the reins, there is no reason the UK2003 cannot be the biggest and best gathering to date.



Regarding Nevil Shute's predictions about the development of warfare and his On The Beach: C. S. Forester wrote in a private letter shortly after the end of the war with Japan (I haven't looked up the date) that he recognized that the mating of the ballistic rocket with the atom bomb would make a fearsome weapon. Of course, the 1945 rocket could not carry the 1945 weapon, but clearly development of both would be coming along fast if there was any international tension.

In another context, a British spy novel was published about 1950, title forgotten. In the plot, a young upper-class British woman marries a British upper-class army officer, to discover that he is a spy for the Soviets. The aura of the betrayal reads, now, as a forecast of the betrayals that did occur. To the point of this discussion, at one point two chief officers of aerospace firms, meeting at the Paris air show (or similar) are discussing, as a remote possibility, the modern nuclear-armed ICBM, which each of them, privately, believes he will be building in the near future.

John Forester

From in Queensland:

G'day Dan

Further to the letter in the September Newsletter from Fred Erisman concerning Donald Ross of AN OLD CAPTIVITY

I agree completely, this is my favourite Shute book, and have often wondered if he wrote it after seeing the reports of finding the Viking Settlement - or whether he just had a prophetic vision about the Vikings going there and made up the story. I don't know whether it would make a good film, because of the flashbacks, but feel sure that it would be a really good visual story as well as a jolly good read.

We are enjoying the newsletter, keep up the good work Dan.


Eunice and Ron


I know it is a fine point but I need some help. I have been trying to find a copy of ORDEAL which is not a Book of the Month Selection. In spite of specifically stating I am looking for a copy without the phrase A BOOK OF THE MONTH CLUB SELECTION printed on the dust jacket at the very bottom of the outside back cover, book dealers keep trying to sell me a copy with this phrase as a first edition as opposed to a book club copy. I am beginning to wonder if any copies exist without this notation; i. e. is the only difference a price on the inside of the dust jacket. Can anyone help clarify this point? Specifically, does anyone have a copy without this notation on the dj?


Andy Banta



For your information Trustee from the Toolroom in paperback has just been recently added to the catalog of A Common Reader (Pleasantville, NY) - email: The Editors of Common Reader are avid readers, but this seems to be there first exposure to the many Nevil Shute books that we common people adore. His comment (all their books get 100 or so words of description in the catalog) was that novelist Donald McCaig had recommended it and that he found it: A wonderfully moving tale, as brilliant and comforting as my friend said it would be. I hope he is moved to read more NSN works!

Al Beggs

From in Italy:

Dear Sir,

I beg your pardon for my bad English. I am searching the Nevil Shute book Trustee from the Toolroom but I live in Italy and I don't know how and where find it. Could you help me? Thanks in advance. Bye

Elena De Ambroggi

(We steered Elena to a book store in the UK from which Trustee could be ordered.)

From: Dr. in OZ:

Dear People,

I am writing an article on ON THE BEACH & when visiting the Shute website a few months ago, I found reference to a very interesting piece by Fred Erisman entitled The Technological Utopias of Thorstein Veblen and Nevil Shute in the journal, Weber Studies, vol 11, No 2, 1994 I cannot now find this piece on the site or anywhere else & wonder if anyone there knows the page range for this piece. I'd much appreciate your assistance.
Yours sincerely,
Helen Grace

(We put Dr. Grace in contact with Dr. Erismann)

From in Canada:

Hi Dan:

Got the R-100 tape yesterday. Very interesting. I have about 15 minutes from other sources, but this has a few scenes I've never seen before in a film. I am going to be showing it (along with my other footage) to Barnes Wallis sister-in-law who lives 10 minutes away from me!

She is 90 and quite lucid. She was 15 when her sister married Barnes and she saw the R100 under construction! I'll bet she met Nevil! I have not met her yet but we have talked quite a few times on the phone. I wrote an article on the R100/R101 a few years ago and she responded with a letter to the editor.

My article won a prize, and I am hoping to get a movie made. I'll send you a copy. After two years, there is suddenly much interest. I co authored a book on the film Lawrence of Arabia in 1992 and made quite a few Hollywood contacts.

Did you know that Lawrence nearly went on the R101! And that David Lean covered the crash of R101 as a newsreel editor?


That is it for now folks. Keep those cards and letters coming.

Regards from TLOE&E (The Land of Enchantment and Enchiladas),


PS: Those of you who have not already done so, please change my e-address in your files to

Nevil Shute Norway