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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 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.
Photo courtesy of Dylan Reibling
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June 2014 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. In November last year, Harry Leslie Smith wrote a piece for the Guardian called “This Year, I will wear a poppy for the last time”, as a 91 year old ex-RAF man this was a very strong statement, the article went on to Facebook and caused a great deal of comment. Now in Harry’s Last Stand he considers everything we are in danger of losing owing to the current political dogma. Harry Leslie Smith can well remember a life before the NHS, equal Education for all, Trade Unions and worker’s rights. Now he sees everything he fought for going or gone, students weighed down by debt, workers rights diluted, the NHS being broken up and above all the widening of the gap between the haves and the have-not with the have-nots demonised and used as a political football. He clearly and powerfully articulates the ills of society and the failure of government to create a more equal society. From his own experience he knows that we are being returned to a way of living that didn’t work then and won’t work now. Like for Like Reading Left without a Future: Social Justice in Anxious times, Anthony Painter When the Money Runs Out: The End of Western Affluence, Stephen D King
'Harry Leslie Smith is a vital and powerful voice speaking across generations about the struggle for a just society' Jeremy Corbyn THIS A CALL TO ARMS FOR THE MANY, NOT THE FEW: DON'T LET THE PAST BECOME OUR FUTURE Harry Leslie Smith is a great British stalwart. A survivor of the Great Depression, a Second World War veteran, a lifelong Labour supporter and a proud Yorkshire man, Harry's life has straddled two centuries. As a young man, he witnessed a country in crisis with no healthcare, no relief for the poor, and a huge economic gulf between the North and South. Now in his nineties, Harry wanders through the streets of his youth and wonders whether anything has actually changed. Britain is at its most dangerous juncture since Harry's youth - the NHS and social housing are in crisis, whilst Brexit and an unpopular government continue to divide the country - but there is hope. Just as Clement Attlee provided hope in 1945, Labour's triumphant comeback of June 2017 is a beacon of light in this season of discontent. Britain has overcome adversity before and will do so again - a new nation will be forged from the ashes of grave injustice. Moving and passionate, Don't Let My Past be Your Future interweaves memoir and polemic in a call to arms. Above all, this book is a homage to the boundless grace and resilience of the human spirit.
'[Harry Leslie Smith] is absolutely one of my heroes. Everyone should read this and be humbled.' Annie Lennox 'A deep love of humanity is what animates Smith. He is a hero of our times.' Newsweek 'His straight-from-the-heart delivery makes these events seem as clear and immediate as if they happened yesterday' Morning Star At 22, the war is over for RAF serviceman Harry Leslie Smith - the now 92-year-old activist and author of the acclaimed Harry's Last Stand - but the battle for love and hope rages on. Stationed in occupied Hamburg, a city physically and emotionally ripped apart by Allied bombing, and determined to escape the grinding poverty of his Yorkshire youth, Harry unexpectedly finds a reason to stay: a young German woman by the name of Friede. As their love develops, they must face both German suspicion and British disapproval of relations with 'the enemy'. Harry's ardent, straight-from-the-heart memoir brings to life a city reduced to rubble, populated with refugees, black marketeers, corrupt businessmen and cynical soldiers. Love Among Ruins: A memoir of life and love in Hamburg is a unique snapshot of a terrible period in Europe's history, and a passionate love letter to a city, to a woman, and to life itself.