(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Nevil Shute was a modern stoic who faced his strokes, heart attacks, and failing health with fortitude as he continued to write. As an engineer, he could have presented a world in which science and technology gave humanity glorious opportunities. Instead, he presented a warning. It is interesting to note that On the Beach is set in 1963, only a year after the actual Cuban Missile Crisis occurred. At that time, reality brought the world very close to the fate that the novelist had described. It is a warning that only the ordinary people of the earth can save it and an affirmation that people, even in the face of death, can know how to live.