Dept. of You Learn Something New Every Day


David Beito on Nevil Shute, author of the anti-bomb cautionary tale On the Beach:

Although most of the political activists who drew inspiration from On the Beach were leftists, the author, Nevil Shute, counted himself as a friend of low taxes [and] entrepreneurship, and an enemy of socialism. Born on January 17, 1899 in London, Shute had a successful career as an aircraft engineer. He played an important role in the early development of airships and later founded his own aircraft construction company.

As a businessman and successful novelist, Shute understood the destructive impact of statism and high taxes on creativity. Several years after World War II, he fled to Australia because of his disgust with the policies of the Labour party. As the author of the introduction to one of his works wrote, Shute, "saw all the original acts of the Labour Government as stultifying to the initiative, designed to stifle the kind of technological creativeness he represented, designed to level down to mediocrity by legislation, rather than to elevate to freedom and better living by adventure and competition."

I doubt anyone would ever say that about Stanley Kramer.

For more on Shute's politics, including an argument that he was more "a man of the establishment" than any sort of libertarian, see these interesting follow-up comments from Andrew D. Todd.

NEXT: It Usually Begins with Sammy Hagar*

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  1. I never knew or cared about his politics – but I will say that “On the Beach” became just about my favoritest book ever when I read it in 5th grade English class.

  2. I keep getting the movie mixed up with On The Waterfront, which, however, I still haven’t seen.

  3. I love his novels, especially Trustee From A Toolroom, and No Highway.
    See also his autobiography Slide Rule, if you can find it.

  4. Shute had a successful career as an aircraft engineer.

    Bad name for an aircraft designer.

  5. While Shute may have disliked Ayn Rand a website called Paper Tiger offers his books along with novels by Frank Spearman and Anthony Hope. He also sells the Ilona portrait of Ayn Rand. Paper Tiger is run by ARI person named Fred Weiss. My personal dealings with Mr Weiss were quite pleasant. I should add that he does not sell On the Beach but most of the Shute’s earlier works.

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