Book Review

2002-8/August 1, 2002


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In the July Newsletter, I raised the issue of projects and funding. For a reminder of the contents of that discussion, please refer to the July Newsletter.

We received only seven replies to our request for input, out of over 500 newsletter recipients. Although the response has been a bit disappointing, it was not too much of a surprise. I suspect that many of our readers are up to their unmentionables in other projects, and turn to Uncle Nevil for relaxation and diversion, rather than for any more requirements.

We did receive a very generous offer from an Aussie Shutist, who happens to run a web hosting service, to provide the Foundation web site with free web hosting, thus significantly reducing our annual administrative expenses. Webmeister Jack Calaway is now working with said web host, arranging a transfer of our web site to their service. Hopefully, this will be a seamless transition that no one will even notice. Once the changes are made, we will recognize and thank our new web host for their generosity.

We also received several helpful suggestions and offers of modest financial assistance from a half dozen other Shutists. To provide for the easiest donation service possible, we have added a PayPal link to the bottom of the Home Page and the Foundation Page on the web site. Those wishing to make a donation to the Foundation with a credit card, and those who do not have US bank accounts, may find using the PayPal button to be convenient. Those Shutists preferring to send a check drawn on a US bank may write to

One of the suggestions from several of those who did respond was to charge a small fee for access to the newsletter, use of the lending library, etc. Although this is a logical and reasonable suggestion, we decided when we first started the Foundation, the library, the web site, and the newsletter, that they would be for, of and by Shutists everywhere, without any charge or fee. We want to reach the greatest number of Shutists possible, and certainly do not want our numbers reduced by requiring any payment for membership or services. Unless someone comes up with a very convincing argument to the contrary, I think that is the way will keep it. It does place a somewhat unfair burden on those who contribute voluntarily, but that seems preferable to thinning our ranks by requiring any sort of membership dues.

Since we have not received an overwhelming response indicating interest in additional Foundation projects, we have decided on the following:

1. Our efforts and finances for the time being will be expended on those areas that reach the greatest number of Shutists at the least expense; the web site, the newsletter, and the library.

2. Notwithstanding the above, we will furnish the Alice Springs Library with a complete set of hardbound Nevil Shute books, including the latest addition - The Seafarers, to go along with the complete set of recorded Nevil Shute books that we have already given to them. All but two of the books will be donated from extra copies in private collections, so that there will be no great expense involved. Acquiring the two books that are needed (Kindling/Ruined City and Round the Bend), and shipping should cost under $200 USD.

3. Unfortunately, I spoke too soon regarding Penny Morton's narration of Vinland The Good, and potential narrations of other Nevil Shute books that have not been professionally recorded. We have been advised by A. P. Watt, the Literary agents for the Nevil Shute Norway estate, that making these tapes available through our lending library would be a violation of copyright law, even though all library loans are made without charge. Therefore, there are no plans to have additional books recorded, nor to make the Vinland The Good tape available through the library.

4. Other proposed projects: All other projects, such as assistance in funding for a Nevil Shute memorial at the Alice Springs Library, and making video tapes available for either the Alice Springs Library or the Foundation Library branch in Australia, have been put on indefinite hold.

5. We still have dreams of one day making Nevil Shute educational scholarships available to aspiring young writers, pilots and aviation engineers. However, any such projects will depend on whether or not there is a sufficient response in terms of legacies for that purpose.

There you have it. We can certainly continue our present activity level for the foreseeable future, particularly in light of free web hosting, and offers of modest donations from a small number of Shutists. That is all we can do in a fiscally responsible matter, and that is all we should do.

Enough on the unpleasant topic of filthy lucre!


In perhaps the greatest single addition to the web site ever, Richard Michalak, AKA NSNN (Nevil Shute Norway Nut) and The Mad Australian, has created a Nevil Shute Time Line, the most comprehensive compendium of important events/dates ever assembled on our favorite author. Please check out the Time Line at and/or at

The Time Line is a living document that will be expanded indefinitely by Richard and by other Shutists who discover interesting data relating to Uncle Nevil. Richard, who also authored the OZ2001 photo album and numerous newsletters from Down Under, has outdone himself this time. He is hereby awarded the highly prestigious, if unpaid, position of Foundation Historian!

Richard is now working on an illustrated version of the Time Line, which will include appropriate pictures and photographs of as many of the events listed in the Time Line as possible. Because of the complexities involved, including the desire to get permission from all concerned to post the pictures and photos on the web site, it may be a few months before we have it up and running. I have seen the preview though, and can assure everyone that it will be well worth waiting for.


Business continues to boom for the US branch of the Foundation Library under the management of Librarian Ed Yess. Requests for loans or other information may be directed to Ed at Remember, there are never any fees, fines or charges, other than postage, for library loans. All services are gratis courtesy of The Nevil Shute Norway Foundation.


HREM Steph Gallagher has returned from her vacation/sabbatical and is back at work on UK 2003. This from Steph:

UK 2003 Planning Update

Dear Friends:

As Dan mentioned in the last newsletter, July was a month of relaxation for me, as I took time out with my husband to do some travelling. However, it's now back to the grindstone. As mentioned in a previous update, I have found, what I think is the perfect venue to stage the NSN Gathering in 2003. I will be meeting with the venue manager early August. At which time I hope to be able to further discuss dates and costs. If all goes to plan, I will be able to release confirmed dates by Mid August. A separate e-mail list has been set up for those of you interested in receiving more detailed information about the event. To be added to the list, please send me an e-mail. Also, if you have any questions about the gathering, please also feel free to drop me a line at - I do reply to all e-mails received.

Kindest regards,





I noted with some interest the comments about the similarities between "No Highway" and the tragic problems of the Comet jet airliners. I made the same connection when I first read the book many years ago. Having spent over thirty years teaching fatigue design, I have a reasonable knowledge of the subject. I would agree the test procedures describe in "No Highway" are representative of actual practice. However, I would also agree with the narrator of the story-I'm not sure if he ever identifies himself-that testing an entire tailplane is a rather expensive way to gather data for theoretical studies. Concerning the theory stated in story, I've never come across anything even close to the Honey approach. There may have been something in the literature at the time NSN wrote the story but if it did exist it is long lost. I suspect the reference to work by Schiltgrtad and Koestlinger is pure fiction. In reality, fatigue failures are still not well understood in terms of theory. Much of the design of machine parts is based on the correlation of experimental data with no real supporting theory. Aircraft designers use more complex statistical analyses of the data but in the end their designs are largely empirical. Finally, I would agree that "No Highway" is a bit prophetic of future events but I feel sure the designers of the Comet airliners used the best techniques available at the time.

Best regards,

Andy Banta


I was delighted to find the site a couple of weeks ago. I have been an avid reader and collector of Nevil Shute books for 20 years or so. There are 18 titles in my collection now. I can read the newsletters off of the website archive file, so I don't really need to be on the newsletter E-mail group.

I read your account of your and your wife's flying trip to Australia with great interest. I own and fly a 182 based in Keokuk, Iowa. In 1983 I took a vacation trip to Victoria for two weeks with my wife and two young children. While we were there I attempted to get a certificate of validation for my PPL to fly in Australia. The rules were considerably less friendly to foreign pilots then and despite several days of study I failed the flight rules and procedures test which was required then. I did meet a number of pleasant aviators there and generally enjoyed the experience. I was a low time pilot then with only 300 hours or so.

We rented a camper Van in Melbourne and found that a good way to get around. That was just after the major drought and fires in the area and the pastures were recovering but weedy.

We do get to southern Colorado every few years in the 182, usually staying around Wolf Creek Pass. Maybe we can get together for a $100 hamburger sometime!

I read your article in the July newsletter on the subject of the finances of the Foundation. I appreciate your efforts. I do enjoy rereading the gentle dialog of one of the Nevil Shute stories every so often. I am formulating a commentary on NS's anti-Americanism that may be of interest to readers of the newsletter. I promise not to make it a diatribe!


Larry Dittmer

Thanks to all of you for making Nevil Shute's "Seafarers" available. I have certainly enjoyed reading it. (Please pass this note of appreciation on to others who were involved.)

The Foreword and Introduction relate "The Seafarers" to several other Shute novels, but fail to mention "A Town Like Alice". I find several similarities between Jean Porter and Jean Paget (besides the first name!): their attitude towards work, leaving behind a (possible) career in secretarial work, developing a new business/businesses, the female as a source of capital (father / legacy), the first (negative) post-war meeting (Savoy / Cairns airport), and the subsequent (positive) response to the "war time appearance" ("dirty WREN" when Jean Porter comes to tow the Mary / Jean Paget's donning the sarong on Green Island).

W. Mills Dyer, Jr.

Hi Dan:

Was delighted to receive The Seafarers from Fred yesterday, and even more delighted to be up at the crack of dawn this morning to read it. Sincere thanks for all the work that has gone into this production, and I urge you to continue with any other unpublished manuscripts. Nevil may have been quite particular about what he did and did not publish, but I'd rather read one of his 'rejects' than almost all the junk that seems to be published these days.

An exception to the above is 'First Light' by Geoffrey Wellum, which has just been published in the UK. It tells of a boy who joined the RAF and flew in (and survived) the Battle of Britain. It is drawn by Wellum from his diaries at the time.

Once picked up, this book is difficult to put down.

Keep up the good work.


What an informative web site!

Although I'd heard of A Town Like Alice as a child, I only came to Nevil Shute relatively recently through the marvellous medium of talking books. No Highway was the first; I was transfixed. I've listened to all of the other books I could find, perhaps enjoying The Trustee from the Toolroom most because of the many points of contact with my life.

I was at a garden fete at Pond Head in about 1962 without knowing of its famous former owner!

Please advise me of the UK 2003 details. Thank you.


Norman Pasley

Dear Dan:

I trust that things are well with you and that you will remember me from your brief visit to Auckland last year. My reason for getting in touch again is that a colleague has recently acquired a very significant letter by Nevil Shute. It is a reply to a letter, of which we have the carbon copy, pointing out an error in the first edition of Slide Rule. Nevil's reply acknowledges the error and advises that he had already received similar information and was arranging with the publisher to correct the text before too many more copies were printed.

The error concerns the death of former test pilot George Stainforth in the Gulf of Suez during WW2. Nevil's letter is one and a half pages in length and is on his personal letterhead. It is clean and well looked after and even has the envelope it came in. It was tucked in the front of a first edition copy of Slide Rule. The new owner of this book and letter wishes to market them together and is thinking of trying a UK auction. When I told him about your society and possible American interest in the letter he agreed to let me inform you about it. The letter is absolutely genuine and is signed Nevil Shute Norway in blue ink. Please let me know if any of you contacts in the US would be interested in making an offer for the letter and book.

Kind regards,

Ray Patterson

That's it for this month. Please keep those cards and letters coming!
Regards from TLOE,


Nevil Shute Norway