RAF-veteran and ex-carpet salesman, Harry Leslie Smith, at 91 years old became internet famous when he wrote an article for The Guardian in November 2013 entitled ‘This year, I will wear a poppy for the last time‘ which was then shared over 60,000 times on Facebook. I encourage you all to read that article as an introduction to the book I am about to discuss/review.
My copy of Harry’s Last Stand was sent to me by the lovely Leena at Icon Books however, as always, this will be an honest review.
Publication date: 5th June 2014
Page count: 224 pages
Publisher: Icon Books
From the very beginning of this book the author’s poetic yet brutal writing style hits you over the head with a passion and sincerity that is to be expected of a true Yorkshire-man like Harry.
As a (nearly) 23 year-old student, getting by on student loans and a part-time job, it is difficult to comprehend the expanse of time that Harry has lived and remembers. As he says ‘I am not an historian, but at 91 I am history’ and reading this book you really get that feeling. To be honest, unless I am studying a book in university, I am not one for post-it notes or highlighting in my books but with this one I just had to add post-it notes to highlight my thoughts on certain passages and the way they made me think.
By including references to popular activists such as Russell Brand and by including references to war poetry in a very subtle way, Harry brings these problems and issues to a level where anyone could relate to what he is saying and understand it. I had no prior knowledge of politics before going into this and I fully understand the vast majority of what the author was trying to get across.
The combination of real-life experience in the form of a memoir and the manifesto of what Harry sees for the future was amazingly done and had me very emotional at points. I think people from all over the world, not just Britain would benefit greatly from this.
If I have learnt anything from this book it’s that one person can make a difference because you’re never the only one feeling a certain way about the state of the country or the world. If all those individual people stood up on their own, they’d soon realise that they’re not on their own and Harry is proving that with this brilliant book.
I hope I got my thoughts about this book across in an eloquent enough way to make you want to pick it up because I believe it will be one of the most important books you read. In a time where ebooks seem to be taking over, I urge you to buy a physical copy of this memoir/manifesto; make it yours, read it, highlight passages, reread it time and again, because this is a book that needs to be talked about and shared. At only 224 pages, there’s no excuse.
Harry on Twitter: @harryslaststand