Written in the late 1950s, On the Beach must have struck to the heart of people's concerns about nuclear warfare following the devastation caused by atom bombs at the end of world war two. It is no less relevant today, with growing fears that some of the less stable countries in the world are secretly stockpiling nuclear weapons. The story follows the lives of people living in Australia after a nuclear war has wiped out all signs of life in the northern hemisphere. The resulting radioactivity is spreading south at a measured pace, and the only people still alive know that they only have a few months left to live. The story is as much about human nature as nuclear destruction, and as you read how different people cope with approaching death it makes you stop and wonder what your own reaction would be. Would you accept the inevitable with quiet dignity, even humour, as most of Neville Shute's characters do?
This is a disturbing book that reminds us of the total devastation that would follow nuclear war if it was allowed to run its course. Read it and make up your own mind.