Harry's Last Stand (Paperback)
How the world my generation built is falling down, and what we can do to save it
Harry Leslie Smith
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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.' The Guardian
‘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!’ Ken Loach, Director of I, Daniel Blake
‘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 that 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 over 80,000 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.
'Smith's unwavering will to turn things around makes for inspirational reading.' Big Issue North
'[With] sheer emotional power … Harry Leslie Smith reminds us what society without good public services actually looks and feels like.' New Statesman