Harry's Last Stand by Harry Leslie Smith
|Harry's Last Stand by Harry Leslie Smith|
|Category: Politics and Society|
|Reviewer: Robert James|
|Summary: Stunning indictment of the world today and just how little has changed, in some ways, over the last nine decades.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: June 2014|
|Publisher: Icon Books|
RAF veteran Harry Leslie Smith rose to prominence last year with a famous Guardian article 'This year, I will wear a poppy for the last time' about the way in which the remembrance of those who died in the great wars has been co-opted to justify today’s military conflicts. Here, he tackles themes of poverty, political corruption, unemployment, and a lack of hope felt by so many people today.
This took me about a week to finish despite being relatively short. That’s not a criticism of Harry Leslie Smith’s writing style, which is clear, to the point, and easy to read. Rather, it’s a sign of just how much it raised my blood pressure every time I picked up this stirring, searing indictment of politicians and the ruling classes. Smith is angry at many things, but not for himself – he seems content with the way his life has turned out despite hardships along the way. Instead, he is furiously railing against the injustices which he’s seen throughout his life, and which seem to be in force as much as ever today. When a younger relative tells him how much the world has changed since Harry’s childhood, Harry’s immediate thought is that perhaps it hasn’t changed enough. Comparing the recent economic crash to the depression of the Thirties when he grew up, he draws clear parallels between the two eras and looks at the increase in living costs and the vanishing of optimism from so many people’s lives.
Will it change anything? I’d love to think that Harry’s words would inspire politicians and others towards the top of society to take a long hard look at themselves, but the cynic in me feels that’s unlikely. But in terms of spreading awareness, alerting people to the parallels between different eras and, to be honest, inciting a bit of rightful fury, this is a stunning book. Very highly recommended.
I'd like to thank the publishers for providing me with a copy of this book.
I think readers who find this thought-provoking would also really benefit from reading Out of the Ashes: Britain After the Riots by David Lammy. A slightly weirder suggestion is one of my favourite children's books of the year so far, Girl With A White Dog by Anne Booth, but I think Harry would appreciate the message it contains about learning from the past.
You can read more book reviews or buy Harry's Last Stand by Harry Leslie Smith at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Harry's Last Stand by Harry Leslie Smith at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.