Harry Leslie Smith - Don't Let My Past Be Your Future - Little, Brown Book Group

Time remaining

  • -- days
  • -- hours
  • -- minutes
  • -- seconds
Other Formats
  • Paperback
    More information
    • ISBN:9781472123473
    • Publication date:13 Sep 2018
  • E-Book £P.O.R.
    More information
    • ISBN:9781472123466
    • Publication date:14 Sep 2017

Don't Let My Past Be Your Future

A Call to Arms

By Harry Leslie Smith

  • Hardback
  • £14.99

Don't Let My Past Be Your Future, Harry Leslie Smith's follow-up to Harry's Last Stand, is both a survival guide for today's generations and a memoir about persevering through difficult times with one's dignity and optimism intact.

'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.

Biographical Notes

Harry Leslie Smith was born into extreme poverty in Barnsley in 1923. He survived the Great Depression by working as a child labourer and served his country in the RAF during the Second World War. Afterwards he returned to civilian life by marrying and, along with many from his generation, helping to lay the cornerstones of the welfare by becoming an engaged citizen.

At ninety-four, Harry is an activist for the poor, the NHS and the preservation of social democracy. He is the author of five books and a frequent contributor to the New Statesman, Daily Mirror and Guardian, for whom his video essay on the refugee crisis was shared over a million times on Facebook and has attracted huge comment and debate. Refusing to go gently into that good night, Harry now hosts a weekly podcast. When not on the road speaking about his life experiences, he divides his time between Yorkshire and Ontario, Canada.

  • Other details

  • ISBN: 9781472123459
  • Publication date: 14 Sep 2017
  • Page count: 240
  • Imprint: Constable
This is a heartfelt, important work which stands both as a fine memoir and a warning to those who have not experienced first-hand the dark and difficult times that shaped the life of author. Harry Leslie Smith is deeply articulate, his words are moving and powerful, and his voice is authentic and sincere. Everyone under 95 should take heed! — Joanne Harris
This is a wonderful book and a timely reminder that so much of the progress we take for granted came not from the benevolence of the great and good, but from the collective struggles of previous generations of working people. At a time when the need for decent jobs, homes, rights and services is more pressing than ever, Don't Let My Past Be Your Future is a must read for trade unionists, campaigners and everyone on the left. — Frances O’Grady, General Secretary, Trades Union Congress
History, they say, is written by the winners. Harry is a winner. He defied the odds and poor health to beat poverty and inequality to live a long and full life. He has been a tremendous public servant to this country, and his relentless spirit spills from these pages ensuring his service to us all will survive to benefit future generations . . . Don't dismiss these as the dreams of an old man. Harry is our own 'a living bridge' to history. Read this book, cross this bridge. Take a long, good look at what you see on the other side. We must do better than be destined to repeat our history as tragedy. — Len McCluskey, General Secretary, Unite
I dipped into the book and then I kept on reading - it's a beautiful, wise and righteous piece of work and truly generous to the coming generation — A.L. Kennedy
Told with passion and eloquence, Mr Smith's personal story of growing up in a time without social services is a stark reminder of how close we may be (in the UK and the US) to consigning millions of people to a life of abject misery for no other reason than they were born poor. — Gale Anne Hurd, producer of The Walking Dead
This is a powerful and deeply moving personal memoir of a Dickensian-like childhood shaped by hunger, suffering and family despair in pre-war Britain. As today's world drifts back towards the extreme inequality that marked Harry Leslie Smith's childhood, we would be crazy to ignore his stirring call-to-arms in defence of the welfare state. — Linda McQuaig

With eloquence, passion and insight that can only come from lived experience, Harry Leslie Smith once again holds up a mirror to contemporary Britain and the hazardous path it is currently on.
By reminding us so vividly of the recent past and shining a light on present perils this book is an urgent warning flare against a gathering storm of far-right ideology and the collective scourges of austerity, inequality and Brexit. Most importantly of all though, it exhorts us to do something now or pay the price for complacency in the face of such threats. Please read - and give it to those you care about to read

— Mary O'Hara
Through reading Harry's words, I feel as if I am walking the bridge between his generation and my own. His experiences as a child in the Great Depression highlight the dangerous times we now live in - in which the destruction of the NHS and welfare state risk dragging us back to a Britain of the 1930s. Harry's work to defend and champion our public services is something I am endlessly grateful for. He is an inspiration — Emily Berrington
Harry has lived through the Great Depression, World War 2, and has borne witness to many of our world's greatest economic, social and cultural conflicts. He's an ordinary man, who has lived through extraordinary times, and brings his experiences of life forward with breath-taking lucidity and ability. His words are not a reflection on history, but a warning that history may be about to repeat itself. A brilliant book, by a brilliant man — Professor Vikas S. Shah, FRSA
If you truly want to comprehend the dangerous place in which we find ourselves today, social, economic and political and how we came to be in this mess, look no further then Harry Leslie Smiths extraordinary new book Don't Let My Past Be Your Future. Never have the words of this great man been of more relevance, not just to you and I but to our children and our children's children. At times Harry's book will make you angry; it will make you cry; but ultimately it will fill you with the desire to rise up against injustice and what a testament that is to the words of this incredible man — Peter Stefanovic, lawyer, blogger
Harry Leslie Smith's bravery and honesty are irreproachable, and his timely, lucid and often harrowing memoir is the perfect antidote to the schmaltzy, romanticised British history we've been force fed by the media. It serves as a chilling warning to my generation of the dangers of repeating the mistakes of British and European history. The heroes here aren't generals or politicians but the working-class men and women who struggled against hypocrisy, war and the overhanging threat of injury, disease and homelessness to achieve a tolerable life. Nothing is romanticised. Smith is candid about the machismo and mistreatment of women, not least his mum, in coal mining communities. But he never lets us forget the hidden injuries of class, the shame and stigma that comes with poverty, or the sense of hope that led people to build the welfare state. For readers today, this book is much more than a personal account of how ordinary men and (especially) women achieved dignity in history. It's a wakeup call for a society that seems intent on giving this dignity away, voting for cuts one day and retreating behind right-wing demagogues the next. It's a must-read rejoinder to Britain's patriotic myths of the Second World War that never goes soft on fascism. And it shows the heroic things that downtrodden people achieve when they put aside their differences and unite in struggle. In his ninety-four years, Smith has never faltered from his commitment to truth and international justice. This autobiography ensures that people of all generations can learn from his amazing life — Cat Boyd, co-founder of the Radical Independence Campaign and the Scottish Left Project
Harrowing with a moving message — Sunday Mirror

Harry and I were born 50 years apart, in the same town, to the same stock of hardworking Barnsley miners which is why I jumped at the chance to read his stark warning to our current and forthcoming generations. After enduring a heart breaking struggle, Harry has sought to turn the life of extreme hardship he endured into something positive and this book is exactly that. Holding up a mirror between then and now, it deftly compares our current existence with the one our ancestors trod and horrifically we are not a million miles away from each other. This is our chance to momentarily walk in the footsteps of those who trod before us and prevent the repetition that history so eagerly desires.

Coming from a genuine position of concern, this is an incredibly important book written by one of the last remaining voices of those times. It should be studied and its message heeded because, if we ignore Harry's past, our future may well return to those dark days.

— Shaun Dooley
Anyone not persuaded of the risks of believing the siren voices of selfishness and intolerance should read Harry Leslie Smith's book — Tim Fenton, Zelo Street blog
Through reflecting on his own experiences during his childhood, Harry Leslie Smith has painted a frank and uncompromising picture of the grim, appallingly miserable childhood he had to endure due to the poverty faced by his family contrasted with the, shamefully still, grim and miserable lives many people endure today in a country ravaged by cuts, austerity and political turmoil . . . The strength of Smith's work is in his deftly woven narrative which features examples from his past, contrasted with the experiences of those living in poverty today, effectively highlighting how far we have sunk back into the cesspit of greed and injustice. It is also a testament to Smith that he manages to uplift as well as horrify the reader, particularly when discussing his own route out of the wretchedness of his situation — The Book Bag
Wonderful, impassioned . . . important — Rick O'Shea
In his winter years, Smith has lost none of his righteous passion, nor his knack for vivid prose — New Statesman
Utterly compelling . . . measured but unflinching . . . the clear-sighted power of his writing is something that all of us should pay heed to and its call is one we must answer — Unison
There is not a life away from poverty once you've known it. The nicest sweets will always leave you with the shadow of hunger as an aftertaste. In this book, Harry Leslie Smith has remembered the Britain of his youth, and it's a cautionary tale. Without safety nets, people die, and poverty's few survivors always bear lifelong scars. There are few thinking-men I respect more in the world than Harry, and in clear prose he explains poverty's brutality, sparing himself nothing, so that the rest of us might learn something from his pain. The man is in his nineties and reading this book is like watching him turn austerity's boosters over his knee like naughty children; it's well worth your time. I am grateful to have been able to read this book. — Linda Tirando, anti-poverty activist
Powerfully written . . . with a passion and poignancy still all too rare in our body politic — Open Democracy
Constable

Record Play Pause

Stephen Morris
Authors:
Stephen Morris

Stephen Morris has had a distinguished career, spanning nearly forty years, as a pivotal member of Joy Division and New Order with his trademark machine-like drumming. After the death of Joy Division's singer, Ian Curtis, in 1980, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Morris and his wife Gillian formed New Order, one of the most critically acclaimed and influential bands of the late twentieth century. New Order became the flagship band for Tony Wilson's Factory Records and, alongside him, opened the infamous Hacienda nightclub, the centre of the acid house movement. In 2015, after a ten-year hiatus, New Order released Music Complete; which charted at #2 in its first week of release (the band's highest position in over twenty years).Stephen's book won't be that typical music autobiography, which tends to be high on mischief and low on the music. Part memoir, part visual scrapbook, part aural history, it will be a hybrid memoir in Stephen's wry and witty voice. Stephen will weave a dual narrative of growing up in the North West during the 1970s with how the music actually works. It will also explore what it is to be part of a mythologised band and the idea of what you do becoming who you are.

Piatkus

Going Solo

Genevieve Roberts
Authors:
Genevieve Roberts

Going Solo is the empowering and uplifting story of one woman's choice to become a single mother. 'I hope this story gives hope to anyone who wants children and to anyone who finds themselves single. Not to follow this path necessarily, but to remember that there are always many options.'Aged thirty-seven, single and having experienced two miscarriages, Genevieve Roberts found out that her fertility levels were dwlindling. On hearing this news, she made the courageous decision to embark on motherhood solo and eventually became pregnant using a sperm donor.Genevieve describes her initial fear of the prospect of birth without a partner, and the trepidation she felt towards all the responsibility she has taken on. She recounts all the milestones of pregnancy and motherhood that most women share with their partner -- going to NCT classes alone, taking part in birthing workshops with her sister-in-law, her amazement that two people in her pregnancy yoga class are following the same path as her. But ultimately what triumphs is Genevieve's excitement at meeting her daughter. She recalls the first months of parenthood, navigating the love, worry and tiredness of life with a newborn without a partner. She describes the beautiful simplicity of the relationship between herself and her daughter, as she gets to know Astrid without having to consider a partner. Going Solo is for anyone whose life has taken an unexpected twist; for people who are interested in modern families and for those who want to take control of their life and follow their dreams of parenthood. It celebrates the fulfilment that comes from following what makes you happy, and reminds us that beauty may be found when life offers a surprise or a deviation from convention.

Da Capo Lifelong Books

Life Is a Marathon

Matt Fitzgerald
Authors:
Matt Fitzgerald
Constable

The Sheep Stell

Janet White
Authors:
Janet White

'One woman's gloriously lyrical account of life and love as a shepherdess' Mail on Sunday'Janet White's unfailingly enjoyable book . . . taps into a widespread feeling that we have become cut off from the natural world' TLS'An immensely enjoyable and heartfelt book: it makes you want to run for the hills' The LadyWith an introduction by Colin ThubronAs a child in wartime England, Janet White decided that she wanted to live somewhere wild and supremely beautiful, to inhabit and work the landscape. She imagined searching the whole world for a place, high and remote as a sheep stell, quiet as a monastery, challenging and virginal, untouched and unknown. Turning her back on convention, Janet's desire to carve out her own pastoral Eden has taken her from the Cheviot Hills to Sussex and Somerset, via the savage beauty of rural New Zealand. The Sheep Stell tells the tale of a woman before her time; a woman with incredible courage and determination, truly devoted to the land and its creatures. Evocative, unaffected and profound, it is a lost classic.'A book to share or even fight over if necessary' Rosamund Young, author of The Secret Life of Cows'An extraordinary memoir . . . The Sheep Stell is pure joy, one of the most moving books I've read in a long time' Philip Marsden, author of Rising Ground 'This is a strange and lovely book, and quiet as it is, it makes you gasp at the profoundly lived quality of the life it so modestly describes' Jenny Diski'A hymn to country solitude, lyrical, unpretentious and deeply felt' Colin Thubron

Constable

The Modern Shepherd

AlBaraa H. Taibah
Authors:
AlBaraa H. Taibah

Sphere

My Life with Murderers

David Wilson
Authors:
David Wilson

Professor David Wilson has spent his professional life working with violent men - especially men who have committed murder. Aged twenty-nine he became, at that time, the UK's youngest ever prison Governor in charge of a jail and his career since then has seen him sat across a table with all sorts of killers: sometimes in a tense interview; sometimes sharing a cup of tea (or something a little stronger); sometimes looking them in the eye to tell them that they are a psychopath.Some of these men became David's friends; others would still love to kill him. My Life with Murderers tells the story of David's journey from idealistic prison governor to expert criminologist and professor. With experience unlike any other, David's story is a fascinating and compelling study of human nature.

Constable

I Talk Too Much

Francis Rossi
Authors:
Francis Rossi
Sphere

A Cotswold Family Life

Clare Mackintosh
Authors:
Clare Mackintosh

I have always loved the Cotswolds. I think I loved them even before I found them, in that half-formed ideal one has of where to put down roots. Somewhere peaceful, green, where the road meanders between drystone walls and from town to town, and a strip of blue bursts from brook to river and back again. For 8 years, Clare Mackintosh wrote for Cotswold Life about the ups and downs of life with a young family in the countryside. In this memoir she brings together all of those stories - and more - for the first time. From keeping chickens to getting the WI drunk, longing for an Aga to dealing with nits, Clare opens the door to family life with warmth and humour and heart.

Hachette Australia

The Bulldog Track

Peter Phelps
Authors:
Peter Phelps
Da Capo Press

Forever Nerdy

Brian Posehn
Authors:
Brian Posehn
Hachette Australia

Boom and Bust

Royce Kurmelovs
Authors:
Royce Kurmelovs
Grand Central Publishing

Sisters First

Barbara Pierce Bush, Jenna Bush Hager
Authors:
Barbara Pierce Bush, Jenna Bush Hager

Born into a political dynasty, Jenna and Barbara Bush grew up in the public eye. As small children, they watched their grandfather become president; just twelve years later they stood by their father's side when he took the same oath. They spent their college years watched over by Secret Service agents and became fodder for the tabloids, with teenage mistakes making national headlines. But the tabloids didn't tell the whole story. In SISTERS FIRST, Jenna and Barbara take readers on a revealing, thoughtful, and deeply personal tour behind the scenes of their lives, as they share stories about their family, their unexpected adventures, their loves and losses, and the sisterly bond that means everything to them.

Constable

Sonic Youth Slept On My Floor

Dave Haslam
Authors:
Dave Haslam

'Beautifully judged account of the Manchester scene . . . There is something of the fairy tale about Dave Haslam's sage joyful testament to the kind of life that nobody could ever plan, a happy aligning of a cultural moment and a young man who instinctively knew that it was his once upon a time' Victoria Segal, Sunday Times'Witty, sometimes dark, revealing, insightful, everything one could hope for from one of those folk without whom independent music simply wouldn't exist' Classic RockSonic Youth Slept on My Floor is writer and DJ Dave Haslam's wonderfully evocative memoir. It is a masterful insider account of the Hacienda, the rise of Madchester and birth of the rave era, and how music has sound-tracked a life and a generation.In the late 1970s Dave Haslam was a teenage John Peel listener and Joy Division fan, his face pressed against a 'window', looking in at a world of music, books and ideas. Four decades later, he finds himself in the middle of that world, collaborating with New Order on a series of five shows in Manchester. Into the story of those intervening decades, Haslam weaves a definitive portrait of Manchester as a music city and the impact of a number of life-changing events, such as the nightmare of the Yorkshire Ripper to the shock of the Manchester Arena terror attack.The cast of Haslam's life reads like a who's who of '70s, '80s and '90s popular culture: Tony Wilson, Nile Rodgers, Terry Hall, Neneh Cherry, Tracey Thorn, John Lydon, Johnny Marr, Ian Brown, Laurent Garnier and David Byrne. From having Morrissey to tea and meeting writers such as Raymond Carver and Jonathan Franzen to discussing masturbation with Viv Albertine and ecstasy with Roisin Murphy, via having a gun pulled on him at the Hacienda and a drug dealer threatening to slit his throat, this is not your usual memoir.

Little, Brown

Edge of Chaos

Dambisa Moyo
Authors:
Dambisa Moyo
Constable

Not The Whole Story

Angela Huth
Authors:
Angela Huth
Constable

Hunter of Stories

Eduardo Galeano
Authors:
Eduardo Galeano

'Not since Guy de Maupasant has the short literary form been imbued with such grace, elegance and poignancy . . . these quintessential and often poetic pearls astonish, inspire reflection and entertain' Morning StarThe internationally acclaimed last work by the bestselling Latin American writerMaster storyteller Eduardo Galeano was unique among his contemporaries (Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mario Vargas Llosa among them) for his commitment to retelling our many histories, including the stories of those who were disenfranchised. A philosopher poet, his nonfiction is infused with such passion and imagination that it matches the intensity and the appeal of Latin America's very best fiction.Published here for the first time in an elegant English translation by long-time collaborator Mark Fried, Hunter of Stories is a deeply considered collection of Galeano's final musings on history, memory, humour, tragedy and loss.Written in his signature style - vignettes that fluidly combine dialogue, fables, and anecdotes - every page displays the original thinking and compassion that made Galeano one of the most original and beloved voices in world literature.

Da Capo Press

This Is Not Fame

Drew Pinsky, Doug Stanhope, Dr. Drew Pinsky
Authors:
Drew Pinsky, Doug Stanhope, Dr. Drew Pinsky

As his legions of devoted fans (known as "termites") already know, Doug Stanhope lives in an interesting world, a "cult legend" who nonetheless commands an audience that is larger than many mainstream stars. That's because Stanhope built his career from the ground up, playing the dive-iest dives and most decrepit out-of-the-way comedy rooms you can imagine for two decades, in the process becoming a populist hero to an equally drunken fan base.This Is Not Fame is the uncensored story of how it happened, full of debauched tales from the low side of the road as related by a master comedic storyteller. In his relentless pursuit of non-fame, Stanhope has done it all, including having to hide out in Alaska from a raging state senator who was searching every bar to kick his ass for remarks made about him on the radio; scouring the frozen streets of Korea trying to procure a prostitute for a certain Fellow Comedian; taking a job doing gay phone sex just for the story (and showing up on mushrooms); being booked for a private backyard party and finding out it's for children; having Johnny Depp call and tell him he thinks he's a legend, not knowing he's standing in the rain in a Days Inn parking lot about to play a sports bar to a crowd of 65 people; pretending to be Johnny Rotten for an incompetent interviewer just so he'll stop calling; agreeing to do a stand-up gig--sober and unpaid--for the country of Iceland's worst criminals; filming his own vasectomy to boost ticket sales ahead of a tour; appearing on The Jerry Springer Show posing as a traveling salesman whose wife is leaving him for a lesbian stripper . . . and so much more (and so much worse).This book is exactly what Stanhope's fans have been waiting for: Stanhope unleashed, holding nothing back no matter how embarrassing, immoral, sordid, or compromising it may be.

Constable

Touched By God

Diego Maradona, Daniel Arnucci
Authors:
Diego Maradona, Daniel Arnucci

In June 1986 Diego Maradona, considered by many to be the greatest footballer of all time, proudly hoisted the '86 Mexico World Championship Cup in his hands.Now thirty years on from that magical game, and after a life in sports marked by controversy, Maradona tells, for the first time, the untold stories behind that one-of-a-kind World Cup. Mexico '86 was the pinnacle of Maradona's career, and in this book he will reveal all about every game, what happened afterwards in the locker room, the months leading up to the World Cup, when the team had to go to Mexico City a month early to avoid the overthrowing of the technical director by the Argentine president, Alfonsin, the mystery behind 'El Gran Capitán' Passarella ('78 World Cup Champion), the strategies and tactics that revolutionised the game, training in a country that was recovering from an earthquake, the public's hostility, the jerseys they went out to buy in Mexico City, the meeting in Colombia where the team really came together, his relationship to drugs: the clean World Cup, and the best goal in football history. Mexico '86 is Maradona's World Cup and Maradona is who he is because of that World Cup. Explosive, gritty and unapologetic, Touched by God will tell the inside story of one of the greatest football victories of all time.

PublicAffairs

Perfect Strangers

Roseann Sdoia
Authors:
Roseann Sdoia
Hachette Australia

Songs of a War Boy

Deng Thiak Adut, Ben Mckelvey
Authors:
Deng Thiak Adut, Ben Mckelvey

Deng Adut's family were farmers in South Sudan when a brutal civil war altered his life forever. At six years old, his mother was told she had to give him up to fight. At the age most Australian children are starting school , Deng was conscripted into the Sudan People's Liberation Army. He began a harsh, relentless military training that saw this young boy trained to use an AK-47 and sent into battle. He lost the right to be a child. He lost the right to learn.The things Deng saw over those years will stay with him forever. He suffered from cholera, malaria and numerous other debilitating illnesses but still he had to fight. A child soldier is expected to kill or be killed and Deng almost died a number of times. He survived being shot in the back. The desperation and loneliness was overwhelming. He thought he was all alone.But Deng was rescued from war by his brother John. Hidden in the back of a truck, he was smuggled out of Sudan and into Kenya. Here he lived in refugee camps until he was befriended by an Australian couple. With their help and the support of the UN, Deng Adut came to Australia as a refugee.Despite physical injuries and mental trauma he grabbed the chance to make a new life. He worked in a local service station and learnt English watching The Wiggles. He taught himself to read and started studying at TAFE. In 2005 he enrolled in a Bachelor of Law at Western Sydney University. He and his brother John were the first people in his family to graduate from university.This is an inspiring story of a man who has overcome deadly adversity to become a lawyer and committed worker for the disenfranchised, helping refugees in Western Sydney. It is an important reminder of the power of compassion and the benefit to us all when we open our doors and our hearts to fleeing war, persecution and trauma.