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1923: A Memoir: Lies and Testaments Paperback – Nov 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Iuniverse Inc (November 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1450254136
  • ISBN-13: 978-1450254137
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 440 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,985,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Harry Leslie Smith is a survivor of the Great Depression, a second world war RAF veteran and, at 90, an activist for the poor and for the preservation of social democracy. His Guardian articles have been shared over 60,000 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. Harry Leslie Smith books are represented by Greene & Heaton. His latest book "Harry's Last Stand" is published by Icon and available for sale in June 2014 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ncpulla on Jan. 22 2011
Format: Paperback
As a young mother,after reading 1923: A memoir, I think what stuck with me most was how intense poverty and hopelessness will gradually destroys a mother's ability to nurture or protect her children. It is chilling to think that this account of a family ruined by the Great Depression only occurred in the 1920's and 30's. Harry Leslie Smith's portrayal of life in an economically ravage landscape is so compelling it feels current. The characters' in his autobiography are long dead but Harry Leslie Smith makes them come alive and I felt every bit of their pain and their small triumphs.
This is an outstanding book which is both funny and sad. Harry Leslie Smith also does a fantastic job at justly laying the blame for the destruction of his family and millions of other's in 1930's: corporations who placed profits above people and governments who think their constituency is only the super wealthy. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting a page turning read which can shock, amuse and enthral us with real people, living real lives.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kibe83 on March 31 2011
Format: Hardcover
It is a thoughtful and honest portrait of childhood in Britain in the 1930's; if one comes from the wrong side of the tracks. I was hooked by the very first page because Harry Leslie Smith's easy flowing narrative introduced characters and situations which are haunting, humorous and all too real. I highly recommend this book for anyone that likes a story of adventure, hardship with a dose of humour. It is a great read. I hope this author writes another book about his life because I am now very curious as to how everything turns out for him and his family
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By ncpulla on March 24 2011
Format: Hardcover
As a young mother,after reading 1923: A memoir, I think what stuck with me most was how intense physical, poverty and hopelessness will gradually destroys a mother's ability to nurture or protect her children. It is chilling to think that this account of a family ruined by the Great Depression only occurred in the 1920's and 30's. Harry Leslie Smith's portrayal of life in an economically ravage landscape is so compelling it feels current. The characters' in his autobiography are long dead but Harry Leslie Smith makes them come alive and I felt every bit of their pain and their small triumphs.
This is an outstanding book which is both funny and sad. Harry Leslie Smith also does a fantastic job at justly laying the blame for the destruction of his family and millions of other's in 1930's: corporations who placed profits above people and governments who think their constituency is only the super wealthy. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting a page turning read which can shock, amuse and enthral us with real people, living real lives.
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Format: Paperback
Having never read a memoir, I wasn't sure what to expect. But from the moment I got involved with loveahappyending.com and selected my authors, I knew I would be a fan of the genre ' at least this particular author's account of his early years.

Just from the brief blurbs on the loveahappyending.com/harry-leslie-smith/ author page, there was a parallel resonance between Harry's life and my father's, although comparing the two, my father's life wasn't nearly so tragic and poverty-stricken. In their later years, they both fought in Europe during WWII.

It must have been extremely painful for Harry to be able to put his childhood on paper for all to see yet cathartic at the same time.

It's hard to imagine the type of childhood Harry experienced in 1920s and 1930s England. In that period, people did what that had to in order to survive, including digging through trash and stealing from others to obtain something to eat. His account of his father's years of working in the mines until he could no longer work below ground to being pensioned off and shamed out of the family home because of the actions of his mother, who only did what she had to in order to ensure their survival (such as it was).

Even Harry's mates and later his RAF comrades had no idea what he had been through as a child, ***spoiler here*** although I suspected it would tumble out when he pulled his rifle on a fellow serviceman. ***end spoiler***. Harry had invented a happy reasonaby normal family life for himself.

Harry is quick to credit his older sister, Mary, for his survival. When she finally leaves home, he's devastated. They remain close but it's not the same.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 15 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1923: A Memoir April 3 2011
By Mary Crocco - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
1923: A Memoir by Harry Leslie Smith

The author, Harry Smith, describes his birth as coming into the world with no fanfare, no glad-handing in February 1923. He was born into poverty, abuse, and alcoholism during the Great Depression in England. The matriarch in the family, Lillian, had abandoned Harry's father, Albert, to put food on the table. She fled numerous places called home, and accepted another man only to feed her kids. Lillian was hardly the loving mother; however, Harry did love her as he did his father. But not for Harry's sister, Mary, he never would have survived. She provided the emotional and physical stability for Harry even though she was only three years older.

Harry discovered a library where books offered him much solace in his chaotic life. He read and dreamed of escaping the place he called home. He took a bicycle ride to York and after observing a beautiful medieval cathedral he experienced an epiphany; he would someday escape from King Cross, Halifax, and Yorkshire. There was another world out there and Harry would find it.

Harry did see more of the world, but not always in a good way. He joined the Royal Air Force during WWII. He experienced the horrors of war that every man and woman in the service should never have to experience.

Harry tells his stories of home and war like a good novel. He describes his family and war buddies as if we were family and kin.

There are many books written about WWII and The Great Depression, however written in a memoir creates a different read. If not for the true to life language of Harry's experiences, this story could be on school book shelves for students studying history.

I am hoping for a sequel as the ending leaves the reader intrigued. Glad you survived, Harry, to write this memoir. Hope to read more about you and Elfriede.

Book review by Mary Crocco

[...]
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Jan. 18 2011
By ncpulla - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As a young mother,after reading 1923: A memoir, I think what stuck with me most was how intense physical, poverty and hopelessness will gradually destroys a mother's ability to nurture or protect her children. It is chilling to think that this account of a family ruined by the Great Depression only occurred in the 1920's and 30's. Harry Leslie Smith's portrayal of life in an economically ravage landscape is so compelling it feels current. The characters' in his autobiography are long dead but Harry Leslie Smith makes them come alive and I felt every bit of their pain and their small triumphs.
This is an outstanding book which is both funny and sad. Harry Leslie Smith also does a fantastic job at justly laying the blame for the destruction of his family and millions of other's in 1930's: corporations who placed profits above people and governments who think their constituency is only the super wealthy. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting a page turning read which can shock, amuse and enthral us with real people, living real lives.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Visiting the Past April 1 2011
By Timothy Campbell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Harry Smith has shared with the reader a very personal and poignant story of a time that we often want to recall as "the good old days." And they aren't always good old days when one considers the reality. Harry is a solid storyteller and will allow you to experience a different time through different eyes. If you're a history buff or you simply like hearing stories about what's important, the people, then you owe it to yourself to read this exceptional book.

Tim Campbell, Author and Publisher
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Much More Than I Expected Jan. 22 2011
By V. Adair - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
When I ordered this book, I was expecting an interesting read, but I wasn't expecting to be totally enthralled with an autobiography covering only the period from birth to the end of WWII of that life - which is happily still going on. You know the saying, "You had me at hello?" Well, Harry had me with the Author's Introduction. Just that Introduction was worth the cost of the book! But, as I read his words that covered his childhood during the Great Depression in England, I could see, hear, and smell a time and place that I had never known. I could feel the pain and strength in a young boy that I had never known. But, I cared for him; I would have cried for him, but I had read the Introduction and saw the strength and amazing grasp on life that young boy grew up to have.

I've also read many books about WWII, but never one that took me realistically into the mind and body of a young soldier who thought and acted exactly the way young men do regardless of wars or poverty or other horrors. The book, though an autobiography, reads like a novel, depicts reality with the realism that only novelist generally capture, and captures the reader's heart with the point-of-view of the protagonist, a very real young boy and man.

I've never met Harry Leslie Smith; we are continents apart. But, I feel like I know him, that in someway I've shared his experiences, and that he's taken me on a journey through a great depression in England and a war in Europe. I would recommend this book to anyone!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Much More Than I Expected Jan. 22 2011
By Vickie Adair - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I ordered this book, I was expecting an interesting read, but I wasn't expecting to be totally enthralled with an autobiography covering only the period from birth to the end of WWII of that life - which is happily still going on. You know the saying, "You had me at hello?" Well, Harry had me with the Author's Introduction. Just that Introduction was worth the cost of the book! But, as I read his words that covered his childhood during the Great Depression in England, I could see, hear, and smell a time and place that I had never known. I could feel the pain and strength in a young boy that I had never known. But, I cared for him; I would have cried for him, but I had read the Introduction and saw the strength and amazing grasp on life that young boy grew up to have.

I've also read many books about WWII, but never one that took me realistically into the mind and body of a young soldier who thought and acted exactly the way young men do regardless of wars or poverty or other horrors. The book, though an autobiography, reads like a novel, depicts reality with the realism that only novelist generally capture, and captures the reader's heart with the point-of-view of the protagonist, a very real young boy and man.

I've never met Harry Leslie Smith; we are continents apart. But, I feel like I know him, that in someway I've shared his experiences, and that he's taken me on a journey through a great depression in England and a war in Europe. I would recommend this book to anyone!

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