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Harry's Last Stand: How the world my generation built is falling down, and what we can do to save it Hardcover – Aug 26 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.''Smith's unwavering will to turn things around makes for inspirational reading.''[With] sheer emotional power ... Harry Leslie Smith reminds us what society without good public services actually looks and feels like.''Mr Smith's is a rousing, earthy writing that's part Tony Harrison, part Dennis Skinner''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.''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?''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.''Harry Leslie Smith is absolutely one of my heroes. Everyone should read this and be humbled.''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!''I read Harry's Last Stand in a single sitting. Labour should read to get fire in bellies. Tories should read in shame.''Seek this one out. If it doesn't make you angry there's something wrong with you. It's inspirational stuff.'Shortlisted for 'Polemic of the Year' - Paddy Power Political Book Awards 2015
About 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.
Top Customer Reviews
I grew up with free health care, my mom received a baby bonus when I was a child, I accessed unemployment insurance while I got established in my profession, had government funded maternity leave when I had my child and I fully expected to receive a government pension when I retire. And I never really thought about these benefits, but it felt to me that they had always been available, and that they were as solid as stone. I knew from history classes that they were fairly recent developments but Harry’s Last Stand has put their time line into perspective, and a harsh light on these benefits, and exposed them for how young and fragile they really are. What I thought were mighty oaks are really saplings planted in poor soil that are being neglected by their gardener.
Harry’s Last Stand combines Harry’s life story, overlapped with the events that shaped British society over the last 90 years. He talks about the gains that his generation made in equality, working conditions, health care and the social safety network. In his old age Harry is watching these accomplishments being dismantled and savings going to pad the pockets of company shareholders and government officials who no longer identify with the average citizen. It is shocking to consider that wage gains, improved working conditions, affordable housing, labour rights, and health care came to fruition during a lifetime, and may be wiped out in that same lifetime. That what I take for granted might be unknown to my future grandchildren.Read more ›
For someone with precious little education, he is remarkably well versed in history, politics, sociology, pop culture and social media. He knows exactly what’s going on and going down, and seems totally comfortable handling the issues of the day.
The entire book is based on this premise: “After it was done and the war won, the politicians promised us that no one in this country would face that type of unemployment and helplessness ever again. So I really don’t know why the Western world wants to go back to those bleak, unhappy times without a murmur of real dissent.” He piles on the evidence of the shrinking of programs, the rise in living costs, the disappearance of opportunity and of hope. Expensive schools, expensive healthcare, and massive subsidies to business are the wrong way to build a country, except for the rich, who get richer from it. He is very clear that austerity is the wrong solution to a bad situation. Just as it was in the Depression.
Smith writes with precision and clarity, dancing between the present and his own past with ease. It gives the book a needed lift and makes it a fast-paced read. His obviously left-leaning insights are not new, but his fears are different from the usual political dross. His views are not dimmed by age. Neither is his grasp of the issues. He sees things much more clearly than most of our elected officials.Read more ›
All the hard work by our parents/grandparents in the 20th. century - and all slowly being eroded.
E.G. New school playground needed in a Markham Public School - Parents trying to raise $300,000 as school board cannot fund this.
Why do we pay taxes?
Most recent customer reviews
Very insightful for a self-educated man. Every Canadian should read this before the federal election!Published 11 months ago by Murray Harvey Exp
We're giving away. What it took the Depression and Second World War to achieve for us is being squandered, largely through apathy.Published 12 months ago by Andy Maxwell
At last! Someone with the courage to stand up for the working classes everywhere. A powerful book full of Harry's life experiences and telling it like it was then, of the... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Richard Bough
Harry Smith, born in 1923 and celebrating his 92nd birthday this month (February 2015), has quite a lot to say about the UK and the modern world. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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