Books: World's End

ON THE BEACH (320 pp.)—Nevil Shute—Morrow ($3.95).

The small powers—Albania and Egypt —started the last of all wars, but the big powers finished it. A-bombs H-bombs, massive cobalt bombs obliterated the industrial cities of East and West. The winds carried radioactive dust to hamlet and farm, from Scandinavian fiord to Pacific island. A vast silence fell over the Northern Hemisphere. And now the dust is coming south, covering the earth as uniformly as a bandage wrapped with slow deliberation around an orange. Scientists estimate that it will take about nine months to envelop the Southern Hemisphere from the equator to the pole....

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