Book Review

2002-4/April 1, 2002


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Art and Joan Cornell discover An Old Captivity Rune Stone

Art and Joan Cornell, while digging in their Cape Cod garden near the site of the seaplane landing in An Old Captivity, were delighted to come upon the Haki/Hekja stone described by Nevil Shute in An Old captivity. Art remarked that the inscription on the stone was as clear as if had been carved the day before.

Tom Cutter moves Cutter Aviation to Albuquerque

Despairing of the various factions in the Middle East and Southeast Asia ever coming to terms with the teachings of Connie Shak Lin, Tom Cutter recently relocated his flying service to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Tom remarked that any place that was good enough for the Nevil Shute Centennial Celebration was good enough for him.

Rare Autographed edition of Stephen Morris For Sale (Cheap)

While going through a carton of Nevil Shute novels recently donated by Australian Shutist Richard Michalak, Librarian Dan Telfair discovered an extremely rare autographed copy of Stephen Morris. To raise funds for the Library, Dan is offering this rare book at a very low price.

On The Beach - One More Time

A New Zealand film company, not to be outdone by the recent popularity of On The Beach II, has announced a sequel starring Sylvester Stalone, Paul Hogan, and Madonna, with award winning special effects, full frontal nudity, and a surprise ending. Unfortunately, due to the mature nature of this epic, no pictures are available.



Management of the Nevil Shute Norway Foundation Library has been transferred to Shutist Ed Yess, in Blanchester, Ohio.

All library assets and records are now on their way to Ed, who is taking over future library responsibilities. There will be a brief interruption of services, until sometime shortly after the first week of April, while the materials are en route, and while Ed gets the new system rolling. However, anyone wishing to borrow anything can make their want list known to Ed now or at anytime in the future. To contact Ed, refer to the new contact information below and/or on the Library Page. Those Shutists with library items out on loan now, should return them to:

Edward C. Yess III, Librarian
The Nevil Shute Norway Foundation
1783 South State Road 133
Blanchester, OH 45107-9205

Checks for postage reimbursement, etc., should also be made out to Ed Yess.

Questions regarding returns/reimbursements/donations/sales should be directed to Ed at:


We have gone an entire month without a single addition to the Book Review or Character Analyses sections. Come on Shutists - your fellow readers eagerly await your insightful comments on the books and characters of our favorite author.


Favorite (favourite) book votes come dribbling in. A Town Like Alice, Round the Bend, and Trustee still have firm hold of the top three slots. Check out the latest results at Favorite Books Score Card at What's New or under the Bibliography page on the web site.


A recent letter (I think on the nsl) informed us that the House of Stratus Nevil Shute collection described on the Resources page of the web site might no longer be available. Fortunately, this has not proved to be the case. We have checked with Stratus and, as of March 28, 2002, the collection is still available. This source is still a real bargain for anyone who wants a complete (less Vinland the Good) matched set of Nevil Shute books.

On the down side, we have done an inventory update with Critics' Choice, and found that the videos of both versions of A Town Like Alice have been discontinued. We did find (and ordered) a few new copies through Amazon. Anyone wishing to add these excellent videos to their NSN collections should act quickly.


HREM Steph Gallagher continues to roll with plans for UK2003.

Dear Friends.

You are all cordially invited to attend the UK 2003 NSN gathering. To be held in June 2003 in the Southampton/Portsmouth area (the two places are relatively close) in the south of England. The gathering will last 4 days, with one of the days being an outing to a local Shute related location/place of interest. Regarding choice of month, June was chosen mainly because it was the most popular month of choice by people who returned the survey. The gathering will consist of a combination of opening reception, presentations, talks, round table discussions, outings, possible NSN quiz night, videos and a gala meal. In addition to 4 days of events, people will be offered lots of ideas and information on other things to do both before and after the gathering.

I suspect that you are all eager to know the exact dates and cost. However this is a little bit like what comes first, the chicken or the egg. What I really need from you is an indication of whether or not you are likely to attend the gathering. This is not a binding "yes" or "no", just an indication of interest. Once I know approximately how many people are interested in attending, I can inquire about hotel locations and hence put a price together. Please drop me an e-mail indicating your interest and indicating if you have any special requirements in a hotel (for instance any disability, closed captioning, etc.) No guarantees, but it helps if I have this type of information from the start. Please let me know by 19th April 2002.

If you have any questions about the gathering, or would like to receive a more detailed outline of planned events, please also feel free to drop me a line at:

Kindest regards, Steph


An invitation from the Westers in Denver:

Dear Shutists -

This is to notify you of our next meeting on Saturday, April 27 at the home of Dick and Alice Wester.

Address: 1510 E. 10th Ave. #12-E

This is a high-rise on the corner of 10th and Humboldt, Denver.

Time: 6:00 PM

We will be discussing "Trustee from the Toolroom" after a potluck dinner.

We hope you can come. Please let us know before Wednesday, April 24.



(Fred, who was recently named to the prestigious Charles A. Lindbergh Chair in Aerospace History at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, was a very popular speaker at the Centennial and will very likely present again at UK2003.)

After a long silence, a note. The silence hasn't been because we've not kept up with NSN matters, but because we've had assorted things to take up our time. We're just back from Washington, for example, where I met with the folk at NASM and did some apartment-hunting. Results were encouraging on both counts, and we're more and more looking forward to the start of my appointment in August or thereabouts.

The note attached isn't a favorite character sketch, but may be of interest to the group -- I stumbled onto the parallels when a friend (who runs a used book store) lent me a copy of War Birds, thinking I'd be interested in what it had to say about the old planes. I was, but when the penny dropped I got really interested.

Patt has another character contribution in process, a comparison of Jennifer Morton (of Far Country) and Mollie Regan (of Beyond the Black Stump). It'll be along presently.

All's well here as we keep busy with projects. Patt joins me in sending all best to you and Zia.



A Real-Life Johnnie Pascoe

Shutists with a particularly high regard for The Rainbow and the Rose (1958) have another book to add to their collections. This is War Birds: Diary of an Unknown Aviator (NY: George H. Doran, 1926), the yearlong diary of an unnamed American aviator in the Royal Flying Corps during World War I. Published serially in Liberty magazine in 1926 and then, edited and illustrated by two of the author's squadron-mates, Elliott White Springs and Clayton Knight, respectively, and published as a book later the same year, its account of one man's wartime experiences anticipates in numerous ways those of Johnnie Pascoe that appear in Chapter 3 of The Rainbow and the Rose.

Part of the anticipation is in "voice," or tone, for War Birds in its later sections has the same fragmentary, detached quality that Johnnie's record of wartime life reflects -- extended accounts of carefree times on the ground mixed with emotionless reports of missions and brief, matter-of fact noting of deaths in combat or crashes.

The similarities, however, extend to more than tone. WWI aviators were no strangers to alcohol, but the drink of choice of Johnnie Pascoe and his comrades is eggnog. So, too, with the unnamed American aviator, who, with his friends, at one point seeks out a dairy so they can make the drink in five-gallon batches (pp. 87-88).

Reflecting on the female companionship to be found in London, Johnnie observes that "my grandmother told me always to steer clear of a redheaded woman in black underwear." The American of War Birds, musing about a woman he's picked up at a dance, comments "my grandfather told me never to get mixed up with a redheaded woman who wears black underwear" (p. 99).

Johnnie, as we all know, falls in love with Judy Lester, an actress in the cast of Picardy Princess; the American has a fling with actress Billy Carlton, leading lady in Fair and Warmer on the London stage (pp. 132, 140).

And, most remarkably, Judy and Billy share a singular theatrical moment. When one of Johnnie's chums swats his lady friend on the backside, Judy swings into action: "'You contemptible cur . . . ! How dare you strike an innocent child like that! Poor little Evie, only six years old, and her mother still in the home for delinquent girls! Oh, how I despise you! Why don't you hit somebody your own size? Why don't you hit me? O--oh . . . Ow!' And she flung herself on the floor of the foyer of the Savoy just as if she had been knocked down."

Billy Carlton, the American notes, had "a little monologue she gave. 'What, you coward,' she would say, 'how dare you strike a poor defenceless woman! You contemptible cur, why don't you have courage enough to hit a man? Why don't you hit me? Whow!' And with that she would throw herself on the floor as if she had been knocked down" (p. 132).

Other parallels occur, as well, but these, like Thoreau's trout in the milk, are persuasive enough in themselves. Now: did Shute encounter the book as a young writer, in 1926, or did he come to it later? I suspect the latter. In 1926 he was deeply involved in the R-100 project and finishing Marazan, probably with little time for recreational reading; what's more, the flying sequences of Marazan and So Disdained (1928) lack the emotional flavor of those in either War Birds or Rainbow and the Rose. Thus, it seems likely that he crossed paths with the book later in life and, in conceiving Rainbow, turned to it to give immediacy, credibility, and poignancy to Johnnie Pascoe's wartime experience. Long out of print, War Birds can occasionally be found in used-book shops, and makes a worthy addition to any Shutist's library.

Fred Erisman

I have recently found a couple of websites which might be of interest to the NSN Foundation:

One is a report of the visit of the R100 to Canada and contains numerous pictures of the R100. The address for an Adobe format download is:

I think this is from the Canadian National Aerospace Museum. It is a 1.27MB file so it takes a while to download across a normal modem link.

The other is a paper/card 1:700 model of the R100 which you can download free, print out and build. Again it is in Adobe format.

The address is:

Andy Burgess

Since Shute was involved both with Cobham and experimental weapons in WWII, this may be appropriate.

Air-to-Air refueling had been conducted during the 1930s in the U.S. and elsewhere, so it wasn't a new concept. Because of family and personal involvement, I'm primarily interested in the history of WWII in the Pacific, and it seems that air-to-air refueling there could have caused the Japanese more problems early on than we were able to give them. Does anyone know of WWII experiments in air-to-air refueling to extend the range of our bombers?

It would seem that fighter cover for bombers in the Pacific would have been less important than in Europe because of the increased element of surprise. The April 1942 Doolittle raid on Tokyo was an attempt in this direction although it didn't involve air-to-air refueling. Were there any others? And was Nevil Shute involved in any of them? If there had been some in his area, I would expect his knowledge as a geographer would have been used.


More from Allan LeBaron
This was on the nsl, but I thought it was well worth repeating.

The following is abstracted from some notes by the officer who commanded a seaplane tender in Darwin during the 19 Feb 1942 attack. Later his crew got some good Australian liberty, but he doesn't say here whether it was Perth, Melbourne, or Sydney.

"On one occasions two of my men had been arrested for being drunk and disorderly and were returned to the ship. They were put in the brig and the next morning I held mast. ...I asked the arrested men what had happened. The senior one spoke up, "Well, Captain, we was just walking along the sidewalk when four Aussie soldiers met us coming the other day. It was a narrow sidewalk and we wasn't going to get off the sidewalk for no Aussies, so they started to argue. Finally one of the Aussies said the only fair way to settle it was to have a fight. I spoke up and said that sure was fair, four against two." He said, "You don't understand, matie; we'll draw lots and the one that wins will fight on your side. Three against three - that's fair." That's what they did and after a good fight they all threw their arms around each other and went into the nearest pub and got drunk. After that story I couldn't give them the usual five days in the brig but just restricted them to the ship for a couple of days. Later they and the Aussies all became very good friends with their erstwhile enemies - in fact, one of my men married the sister of one of the Aussies." RADM E. Grant, USN (Ret.)

When father got Alzheimer's disease the world made little sense to him. I read to him some of Shute's books. They took him back to a time when he was a tool and die maker in an aircraft plant during the war. He was the best at his job. He worked with the best engineers. He was used to well developed ideas being expressed in the correct technical language. We spent many pleasant hours together.
That's it for now folks. Keep those cards and letters coming.

Regards from the Land of Enchantment and Enchiladas,


Nevil Shute Norway