As one of the last remaining survivors of the Great Depression and the Second World War, I will not go gently into that good night. I want to tell you what the world looks like through my eyes, so you can help change it....
In November 2013, 91-year-old Yorkshireman, RAF veteran, and ex-carpet salesman Harry Leslie Smith's Guardian article - "This year, I will wear a poppy for the last time" - was shared almost 60,000 times on Facebook and started a huge debate about the state of society.
Now he brings his unique perspective to bear on NHS cutbacks, benefits policy, political corruption, food poverty, the cost of education - and much more. From the deprivation of 1930s Barnsley and the terror of war to the creation of our welfare state, Harry has experienced how a great civilisation can rise from the rubble. But at the end of his life, he fears how easily it is being eroded.
Harry's Last Stand is a lyrical, searing modern invective that shows what the past can teach us and how the future is ours for the taking.
©2014 Harry Leslie Smith (P)2015 Audible, Ltd
"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." (Melissa Benn, Guardian)
"Smith's unwavering will to turn things around makes for inspirational reading." (Big Issue North)
"Mr Smith's is a rousing, earthy writing that's part Tony Harrison, part Dennis Skinner." (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." (Paul Routledge, The Tablet)
This book should be required reading in schools and colleges. There soon will not be anyone left who remembers Great Britain before the welfare state and the NHS and can warn of the consequences if we allow it to be swept away. Heaven forbid their sacrifice and efforts should be destroyed for the dogma of austerity and privatisation.
I could listen to this a hundred times.
It was so personal and the intimate details of his life gave context to the opinions he was expressing. The emotional element made the information really stick. I'd love to know Harry.
I am so glad I discovered this book. Such a privilege to be able to benefit from Harry's wisdom and experience! For a unique perspective of society from one of the last remaining members of that bygone generation, this is a must read!
Harry is an inspiration I met him at a labour conference his book was like listening to him all over again
I am so glad I've listened
I throughly enjoyed this book. Such a remarkable insight into not only today's society but also that of previous generations. Harry tell us his story and gives us his opinions with honesty and integrity and never once is he derogatory. He has many lessons we can learn as a society, just hope that we listen and take notice.
Would highly recommend this book to anyone. I also intend to get a copy for my teenage daughter to read as well.
a fantastic, eye opening read that teaches about the world today through a first hand account of a time and place in this country that has been wrongly forgotten and ignored, brilliantly written by someone who has the vitality of a 20-something activist, despite being in his 10th decade of life.
I listened to this in one hit (on a long drive). Harry has certainly not lost his marbles for a 91 year old and has lived through very hard times (and good) . He has a good grasp of how the system works. Worth a listen or read.
its in the headline?
no so don't know
probably not enough people care to read it
The book reflects my opinions about the state of the country at the moment. How the government, press barons and industrialist have blamed the current situation on the Blair/Brown Labour government overspending and not on the financial institutions who caused a global economic crash. They've used this to asset strip our country, and sell off the family jewels and begin the privatisation of the NHS. Harry uses his own personal experiences of his life before the Welfare State and the good that the WS as done for him and his family.
The flashbacks to Harry's pathetic childhood and his post war experiences in Berlin.
Jerrom gets across the curmudgeonly, indignation of a frustrated man, who in his lifetime has seen abject poverty and the cruelty of the establishment, of how it improved for many and how he sees as the inevitable return to a harsh world, where meritocracy and egalitarianism hold no place.
It made me cry in the description of his sister's tragic death. But in the end the book is filled with hope that we can halt the slide back to a Dickensian world. (Granted this was published before the last General Election.)
If you are a conservative voter, this book will do nothing for you at all. But if you have an ounce of fairness in you, or, you have young children and you are worried about the condition of the world they are growing into, trapped paying exorbitantly high rents, struggling to find a job or in a zero hour contract, in the wrong postcode for a certain lifesaving drug, this book is definitely for you. Its Owen Jones with real life experiences!
Not only is this living history reaching out to call for your attention, it is a graphic wake up call for us not to repeat mistakes of the past.
Great work Harry and thank you
"Society today and past"
provides a very good understanding of todays socal problems and how we can change them.
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