The antiwar novel has a grand literary tradition. Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front (1929), Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun (1939), and Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead (1948) are prime examples of novels that realistically portray the madness and brutality of war. While Nevil Shute's On the Beach is not as well-known as these other novels, it carries a powerful message about the dangers of nuclear warfare.
In his novel, Shute focuses on a group of ordinary people who wait for the inevitable radioactive fall-out of a devastating nuclear war to arrive in Melbourne, Australia. Many critics hailed the book as an insightful and humane cautionary fable. On the Beach continues to sell well for a forty-year-old novel, which suggests that the moral of the story remains relevant today.