Harry's Last Stand: How the World My Generation Built is Falling Down, and What We Can Do to Save It Paperback – 7 Oct 2014
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'A kind of epic poem, one that moves in circular fashion from passionate denunciation to intense autobiographical reflection ... should be required reading for every MP, peer, councillor, civil servant and commentator. The fury and sense of powerlessness that so many people feel at government policy beam out of every page.' Source: Melissa Benn, Guardian
'Smith's unwavering will to turn things around makes for inspirational reading.' Source: Big Issue North
'[With] sheer emotional power ... Harry Leslie Smith reminds us what society without good public services actually looks and feels like.' Author: Melissa Benn Source: New Statesman
'Mr Smith's is a rousing, earthy writing that's part Tony Harrison, part Dennis Skinner' Source: NudgeMeNow.com
'This hymn of wrath against the toxic nexus of money and power in austerity UK from a Bradford pauper’s son, excommunicated from the Catholic church for marrying an “enemy” woman in post-war Germany, is a compelling life-verdict.' Source: Paul Routledge, The Tablet
'Harry’s Last Stand is fast becoming a well-deserved publishing phenomenon. It is a breathtaking argument, brilliantly delivered, who said only the new generation have the capacity to make a difference?' Author: Mark Perryman Source: Left Futures
'A moving first-person account from 91-year-old Harry Leslie Smith of growing up before the creation of the welfare state and NHS. Making a simple, emotive case for progressive politics, Smith was the star turn at this year’s Labour party conference.' Source: Guardian [Best Political Books of 2014]
'Harry Leslie Smith is absolutely one of my heroes. Everyone should read this and be humbled.' Author: Annie Lennox
‘It is not enough to read Harry’s record of the struggles and hopes of a generation – we have to re-assert his principles of common ownership and the welfare state. If Harry can do it, we should too!’ Author: Ken Loach
'I read Harry's Last Stand in a single sitting. Labour should read to get fire in bellies. Tories should read in shame.' Author: Alastair Campbell
From the Author
Harry Leslie Smith is a survivor of the Great Depression, a second world war RAF veteran and, at 91, an activist for the poor and for the preservation of social democracy. His Guardian articles have been shared over 80,000 times on Facebook and have attracted huge comment and debate. He has authored numerous books about Britain during the Great Depression, the second world war and postwar austerity. He lives outside Toronto, Canada and in Yorkshire.See all Product description
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Not to waste the next readers study, the book points out with firm conviction to the direction Harry feels we are all heading - I agree wholeheartedly with his sympathies and political leanings as our country needs a shot in the arm to bring us all back into a social and caring welfare system.
Harry's life has been hard and sometimes disturbing and most will recognise his reasoning and wisdom towards today's political arena - a good read with medicine for our political problems which the majority will agree with.
I give it four stars because it wasn't long enough, I hope he does another book, even at his age!
Harry is 92 now. He lived through the Great Depression in grinding poverty, lost his sister at a time before the NHS then served in the RAF in WW2.
Harry has seen politicians come and go. This is the story of a bright child, held back through a lack of education and opportunity. The RAFgave him that opportunity and once he had it, he thrived.
A wonderful read about a generation who experienced real hardship. Harry triumphed over adversity but many more didn't.
Harry is an extraordinary man and a fighter. His fight today is not for himself but for generations to come. His campaign continues via his UK wide talks currently underway. Catch one if you can. He is also a great Tweeter and I look forward to his wisdom every day. The man is a legend.
He feels Britain has gone from a nation that stood up to fascism and Hitler and created the welfare to state to one that elects governments that are totally in thrall to big business. He’s seen the same things occur at different points in his life and says he may be old but he still has the same worries as many people.
He feels that people are living in a culture of fear fuelled by tabloid sensationalism. People are getting caught up in stories about immigration and are losing sight of those in need. He wonders why the tabloids castigate ordinary people while huge corporations dodge tax. He watches the news but it feels tired, as if written by lobbyists.
Harry describes the motions of his day and recalls distant memories. He remembers the Great Depression and gives a heartbreaking account of the experiences of his own family. He worries about the NHS and housing and wonders how the beautiful systems set up to protect the poor are being destroyed. He’s concerned that Britain could be withering into two nations, the rich and the poor.
Harry says that people need to vote to make sure a wide range of voices are heard. Britain’s social safety net is at risk if people don’t take action to protect it. Big business must be taxed properly and he feels young people should travel the length and breadth of the country to see the wide diversity and gain a good knowledge of all walks of life.
This could easily have become a bit of a rant about the state of the nation but Harry has let us in on his own personal experience to put forward a passionate argument for people to think about the things that really matter and benefit society as a whole. These things must be protected in order to create a fairer, more tolerant and ultimately happier and better society.