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1923: A Memoir Lies and Testaments [Kindle Edition]

Harry Leslie Smith
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $2.99

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Book Description

To say that Harry Smith was born under an unlucky star would be an understatement. Born in England in 1923, Smith chronicles the tragic story of his early life in this first volume of his memoirs. He presents his family’s early history—their misfortunes and their experiences of enduring betrayal, inhumane poverty, infidelity, and abandonment.

1923: A Memoir presents the story of a life lyrically described, capturing a time both before and during World War II when personal survival was dependent upon luck and guile. During this time, failure insured either a trip to the workhouse or burial in a common grave. Brutally honest, Smith’s story plummets to the depths of tragedy and flies up to the summit of mirth and wonder, portraying real people in an uncompromising, unflinching voice.

1923: A Memoir tells of a time and place when life, full of raw emotion, was never so real.

Editorial Reviews


It's a personal as well as a social history. Smith has the knack of bringing the times to life in a way that few writers can manage. It's the ability to tell a story, the knowledge of when to move on & not labour a point.--The Bookbag

1923 is a book that succeeds in two ways with ease, both as a personal memoir of a life lived in a volatile age and as a record of that age for all time. --The Current Reader

"1923" is uplifting and highly recommended.  --Midwest Book Review

1923: A Memoir is a protest against social injustice, corruption, war, famine, poverty, and societies blinded by greed. More importantly, it is the story of hope and the notion that anything can be overcome if desired.  --The Publishing Guru
Smith stays true to himself and his inner voice as he recounts the events of his early life.-Feeding My Book Addiction 

From the Inside Flap

My sister and I were children of the one true Church which took its orders from the Vatican. We were commanded by God's earthly representatives to arise, early, each Sunday and dress in clean, presentable clothes. On Sundays, Mam stayed late in bed while Dad always escaped our ritual with an early morning walk. After breakfast of a shared piece of stale toast, my sister would clean my face and hands with an old soapy dish-rag. Until the age of six, I had been excluded and shielded from religious penance and paying homage to Jesus snug in his heaven. So I was mystified and frustrated by this weekly occurrence of stomping across city streets with stores shuttered and bolted. I was envious of our town's well-fed but less-devout brethren who were still wrapped up warm in their beds, while my sister and I traversed, two or three miles to the parish cathedral. 

Product Details

  • File Size: 309 KB
  • Print Length: 167 pages
  • Publisher: Barley Hole LLC; Second Edition edition (October 24, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0060CKF52
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #987,928 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Read October 29, 2011
By ncpulla
Format:Kindle Edition
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking & Uplifting October 28, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
Having never read a memoir, I wasn't sure what to expect. But from the moment I got involved with [...] 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 [...] 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. When he talks about corresponding with Mary after he's enlisted with the RAF, you can feel the hurt in his words as he knows they've drifted apart.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much more than I expected November 6, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it January 15, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I was hooked on this story from the beginning. I feel so lucky in my life after reading the story of Harry's childhood and the hardships he and his family suffered. This was a great read and really illustrates life in England in the time period between the two World Wars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A voice from the heart January 5, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I found this Memoir very touching indeed. Written by an elderly man, the recall of detail is fascinating, especially of his early life and way he conveys to the reader such dire poverty. I love books that are about social change and this certainly posed all kinds of questions about society in the first half of the last century. It needs a bit of polishing, but this really did not detract at all, in fact it seemed to add to the authenticity and the voice from the heart, that is Harry's. For me the book matured as the child grew into the man who fought for his country. Loved it
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More 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.

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