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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still Waiting For Volume II
It's a great shame that Shute-Norway never got around to writing the second part of his memoirs. 'Slide Rule', whilst covering his formative years (and a period of interstingly innocent technological progress), suffers from being cut off abruptly at 1938 and his resignation from Airspeed.
That said, his account of a youthful British aviation industry is fascinating...
Published on 19 May 2003 by A. Reynolds

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
Prompt delivery, and just as described. However, I didn't think that it would not include the photos included in the original format.Slide Rule (Vintage Classics)
Published on 4 Sept. 2011 by Greenkingster


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still Waiting For Volume II, 19 May 2003
By 
A. Reynolds "adrian_j_r" (Mexico) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Slide Rule (Paperback)
It's a great shame that Shute-Norway never got around to writing the second part of his memoirs. 'Slide Rule', whilst covering his formative years (and a period of interstingly innocent technological progress), suffers from being cut off abruptly at 1938 and his resignation from Airspeed.
That said, his account of a youthful British aviation industry is fascinating and gives a glimpse in to the early years of powered flight, before airplanes became practical machines for long distance travel.
Like all of Shute's work, his autobiography is tightly written - sparse yet complete. This is a characteristic I have always found a little unsettling, as the style appears to be very 'English' - clipped, contained, and with more than a hint of the infamous 'stiff upper lip'.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great insight into history, 13 July 2001
This review is from: Slide Rule (Paperback)
This is Nevil Shute's autobiograpy and it covers his significant engineering career as an airship designer on the R100 and as managing director of Airspeed, one of the major British aircraft companies prior to World War 2. Particularly the account of the competition between the privately produced R100 with the state produced R101 is fascinating, and he details the "design by committee" that led to the R101 disaster in 1933. A hugely interesting book, still with important lessons for all parts of today's society.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars `Most of my adult life ... has been spent messing about with aeroplanes.', 5 Mar. 2011
By 
Jennifer Cameron-Smith "Expect the Unexpected" (ACT, Australia) - See all my reviews
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Slide Rule is Nevil Shute's autobiography from his childhood until 1940, and was published in 1954.

Nevil Shute Norway (1899-1960) is best known to me as Nevil Shute, the author of novels including: `No Highway'; `A Town Like Alice'; and `On the Beach'. He wrote 24 novels -many of which I've yet to read - as well as this autobiography. But there's another side to Nevil Shute Norway: he was involved in the early years of British aviation, including the competition to build a commercial airship between 1924 and 1930.

Nevil Shute Norway was educated at Shrewsbury School and Baliol College, Oxford. After a brief period at the Royal Military Academy, he worked for the De Havilland Company from 1920 to 1924. His work in the design and drafting of aircraft led to his being appointed to the Airship Guarantee Company where he rose to be the Chief of Engineering. During this period, there was a competition to build an airship which could be used for regular commercial traffic across the Atlantic.

`It was generally agreed in 1924 that the aeroplane would never be a very suitable vehicle for carrying passengers across the oceans, and that airships would operate all the long distance routes of the future.'

A competition was established, between Vickers Limited (which then established the Aircraft Guarantee Company (AGC) as a subsidiary wholly responsible for the airship construction) and the Air Ministry. Nevil Shute was on the AGC team. The government airship was the R101; the AGC airship was the R100. R100 successfully completed a return trip to Canada in July/August 1930. On the 4th of October 1930, R101 en route to India, crashed killing 48 people. Nevil Shute blames bureaucrats and bad engineers for a series of events which led to the crash. The crash of R101 effectively ended the airship program.

After the airship program ended, Nevil Shute formed a venture capital company called Airspeed Limited which built first gliders and then commercial aircraft. Between 1932 and 1938 (when Shute left the company) he describes the challenges of developing a new company in what was then a new industry. It makes for fascinating reading.

The book finishes two years after Nevil Shute left Airspeed Limited, and I wish that he'd written a second volume covering the next period of his life. Now that I've read this book, I'm keen to read more of Nevil Shute's fiction. Many of his novels draw on his experiences in the aviation industry.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Insight into Airship Design and Aeronautical Engineering, 6 Jan. 2010
By 
Dr. R. Brandon (England) - See all my reviews
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This autobiography by Nevil Shute Norway, better known to readers or film goers of stories such as 'A Town Like Alice' or 'On the Beach' as Nevil Shute, covers the early part of his life from 1899 to 1938 when he left the aircraft manufacturer Airspeed Ltd.
The book covers his period of education and his time at Balliol College, Oxford, where he studied Engineering Science. Then perhaps follows the most intriguing section of the book which is Shute's time working for Barnes Wallis at Vickers on the construction of the R100 airship. The R100 was built at Howden, a small town between Hull and York, during the 1920s. This was a period when it was envisaged that long haul travel would be the province of airships and that planes would be confined to relatively short trips, no plane having yet crossed the Atlantic East to West. The R100 was a commercial enterprise, however, the R101 was designed and built by the Air Ministry at the giant hangars at Cardington, in Bedfordshire. An original order for six airships to traverse the Empire had been placed by the Conservative government but was cancelled by the incoming Labour administration of Ramsay MacDonald and turned into a two ship competition between private and public enterprise. This pernicious arrangement was to lead to the disaster at Beauvais on the 5th October 1930 and the death of the prime architect of this exercise the Secretary of State for Air, Baron Thomson of Cardington, and 47 other people when the R101 crashed and burst into flames. Shute has many interesting insights into the building of the airships and the effect of this peculiar government inspired organisational arrangement, he pulls no punches.
Shute was subsequently involved in the founding of the aircraft manufacturing company Airspeed Ltd. and its slow and painful growth into a major aeronautical business. The most famous plane produced by this company was the much respected twin-engine Airspeed Oxford on which pilots for Bomber Command were trained. The author has much to say about how companies are created and grown and the different skills required when companies become large, the 'starters' and 'runners' of industry.
Shute makes some comments on his writing and his success with publication of his novels and the subsequent sale of the film rights to two of his early books, however, this is by no means a literary biography. The book is well written and I would think hold a special fascination for those interested in airship history and the tragic saga of the R101.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable author and skilled engineer tells (part of) his tale, 11 Feb. 2010
By 
Big Ben "fly_mo" (Bedford, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
There is something very special about this book. Written by one of the giants of 20th century story telling, it conveys the realities of working as an engineer with a richness rarely found in autobiography. The easily understood technical details were fascinating to me as a schoolboy - when I first read this book. It helped me choose my career, and I'm retired now. The book is still wonderful to read - and (for those curious about these things) it answers the question "How did anything as complex as an airship get designed before there were electronic computers?". Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting auto-biography, 3 July 2010
By 
Tellboy (Manchester) - See all my reviews
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Nevil Shute gives half an Autobiography for the period 1920's up until World War 2 in his role as a Aeronautical Engineer working on the stress calculations of the R100 Airship and his early years with the Airspeed Aircraft Company when writing novels was just for relaxation from this demanding job.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Engineers Life, 30 July 2010
First read this book many years ago, and on a second reading,
just as good! Norways work on the Airship R100,( with Barnes Wallis )
compared with that of the ill-fated R101. A well-told story!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yes.... but what made him write the way he did?, 23 Jun. 2007
By 
Guy Gervat (Saltdean, Brighton) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Slide Rule (Paperback)
I enjoyed Slide Rule but I found it frustrating. As has been said above, the book only covers a small period of his life and his work in the aeronautical industry. So it still doesn't address why certain themes reoccur and why he wrote the stories that he did. For example, there is often great poignancy in his books. At the end of 'Lonely Road' the hero's new love is killed, at the end of 'A Town Like Alice' the narrator returns to the UK having to leave someone that he has fallen in love with and he is much too old for her, 'On the Beach' with its tragic ending is full of it, 'Pied Piper' ends with regret at parting. So why was this so much an aspect of his writing? 'Slide Rule' only refers in passing to his novels. Still, at least it tells us something about him.
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5.0 out of 5 stars making technology accessible, 26 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Slide Rule (Paperback)
I'm the world's worst when it comes to anything scientific, but this book, Slide Rule (I have the 1969 paperback and it has photos in it) is so well written and clearly expressed that the most technical details of the airship and airplane construction came through clearly, along with his own clear insights into the politics of the whole business.
I have read all of Nevil Shute's books, and am currently re-reading the entire collection. His spare, sharp, almost clipped English way of writing is refreshing, after some of the over writing that comes with today's authors. I preach pared down writing to the authors I edit, and Nevil Shute's books are perfect to illustrate that point.
I can understand reviewers want to know more about the writing side of his life, but I think he wraps it all up in the last part of this book:
my gladness is tempered with regret, for once a man has spent his time in messing bout with aeroplanes he can never forget their heartaches and their joys,nor is he likely to find another occupation that will satisfy him so well, even writing novels.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Only account of building and serving on airships I know of., 11 Feb. 2014
By 
G C W S Wheeler (UK) - See all my reviews
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Slide Rule is an autobiography, but the part that almost everyone will buy it for is the account of the building of the R100 airship in competition with the R101. These were the largest of their generation, vastly larger than the A380 and 747 jets of today. You get a real impression of the excitement of meeting the engineering challenges and developing novel solutions.

It then goes on to talk about the demonstration flight from the UK to Canada and back, and again, you get a sense of the sheer scale of the thing, when Shute talks about taking the walk-way over the top of the airship while in flight, climbing over the sleeping bodies of men taking the sun. He also talks about in-flight repairs of the fabric panels of the control surfaces.

Shortly after this flight, all UK airship development was permanently stopped due to the fatal crash of the R101, which he analyses. As so few people worked on airships, there is very little material which gives a human perspective on them, and this is probably the only one easily available.
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Slide Rule
Slide Rule by Nevil Shute Norway (Paperback - 18 Sept. 2000)
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