Don't Let My Past Be Your Future
By Harry Leslie Smith
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.
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.
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- Publication date:
14 Sep 2017
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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