Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “1923: A Memoir: Lies and Testaments” as Want to Read:
1923: A Memoir: Lies and Testaments
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

1923: A Memoir: Lies and Testaments

by
4.28 of 5 stars 4.28  ·  rating details  ·  71 ratings  ·  33 reviews
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

...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published November 8th 2010)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about 1923, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about 1923

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 818)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
M.T. McGuire
I downloaded this book because I like history and because I've run into the author on the Amazon forums on occasion and he's a lovely chap.

Despite the very British nature of this story it is published by an American publisher. This means it has a few strange american quirks which jump out at you - more on that later. Otherwise, the standard of presentation is good. I spotted a couple of typos but nothing that would annoy me.

First I should say that I am really impressed by the writing. It's lyr...more
Kati Bowditch
This was a Goodreads First Reader free book.

Sadly, I had written out a review and it's kinda disappeared sooooo... here we go again.

I loved this book, the stark reality of poverty in the 20' and beyond was brought to life by real and honest portrayals of how an adult looking back sees his parents. The struggle of day to day life and the whispers and history that wove into how they found themselves barely eking out an existence was just a raw and pure look back at how life could be, and was.

Th...more
Donna
May 08, 2013 Donna rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Donna by: Terry Tyler
This is my favourite genre of book so I was really pleased when this one was chosen for our 'read of the month' in our book club. It took me a little while to get into it but once I had I found it really interesting. The brutally honest account of Harry's life being brought up in poverty and deprivation was hard to read in places, extremely poignant and inspiring. I have thought about events in the book since I finished reading it and am looking forward to reading the next one.
KyBunnies
This book was a goodreads.com first read contest win.

While reading memoirs is not really my thing. I really did like this book. The author give's insight to something a younger person does not know anything about. Just thinking that my parents and/or grandparents had to go though something like this makes me love and respect them more.

The author talks about how he lived through a depression and WWII. One or the other is important in its self but to go through both is something amazing. There are...more
Nikki Bywater
In the first volume of Harry Leslie Smith’s memoir, we learn a first account about what it was like growing up in Yorkshire, England in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Born into poverty and the depression after the First World War in 1923, Harry does not get the best start in life. Harry and his father become distant and Harry takes his first job at only eight years old to help support the family. Not only is the family so deep in poverty but Harry is also starved of love and affection from his mother an...more
Melanie Robertson-King
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...more
Valentina
It is always interesting to see eras, such as World War II, through the eyes of one single individual. This is a well written memoir that follows the author’s life through his difficult childhood in the Great Depression, showing how his mother slowly began to give up her ideals to put food on the table for her children, while Harry turned to library books for solace.
The writing is simple and to the point, making the events the most important aspect. Sometimes turning brutally stark, the writing...more
Malcolm
my review from http://thecurrentreader.com

Creating a great memoir is a delicate matter. When relying so heavily on personal recollection, it is easy to mire the story in detail and bring the focus down to street level. The mark of a great memoir is to bring the sense of elevation, especially when the story told is one of sweeping historic events that framed one life. The selection of details and the areas of focus are the most important elements in the telling of a life, and these elements are a...more
Grace
This review originally appeared on my book review blog Feeding My Book Addiction: http://feedingmybookaddiction.blogspo...

Smith's coming of age memoir takes readers on a journey of poverty and heartbreak that is the author's childhood and young adulthood growing up between the first and second world wars. Smith stays true to himself and his inner voice as he recounts the events of his early life. The narrative flow develops and ages, if you will, as he does throughout the book. It's incredibly p...more
Terry Tyler
This memoir of Harry Smith's early life in the poverty-stricken north of England was gripping, from the start - a short history of his family and how he came to be born into the situation he did - to the end, which was an account of the war from an average Joe's point of view.

I liked the early part best - it's so hard to believe that such hardship could have existed in this country, in the the last century, not so many years before I was born. I found the perceived difference between the starvin...more
Desiree reilly
i read this book today and it a great e book it will tell you that the
war and the things it to the people in the era he had to suffer and then
he become a man at 14 and had to help with money to come and go and the era
they had to live were they could his mom would live with who ever and she
ended up 2 boy not by her husband by other they lived in house that were not meant
to live in so harry and his one sister would live there life harry in listed in the
milatary and served is time he stayed in...more
Karen (Kew)
This makes uncomfortable but compelling reading. The author grew up in grinding poverty and appalling conditions but with a determination to better himself. I actually found this an inspiring read in the end. Although I was shocked and horrified to read what this young boy and his siblings had to put up with, I admired his determination to better himself by finding escape in reading. His childhood was dreadful and his youth in the RAF tedious. Although bitterness shows through in his writing at...more
Tim
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.

Brian Deegan
I am not a fan of Non-Fiction, normally I like books I can escape into! but as it was a book of the month I was forced, kicking and screaming to read it. I struggled for the first 15% but then I found it was getting more and more interesting and in the end I wanted to know more about Mr Smiths interesting life. Don't tell anybody but I have even added the next book to my wish list.
Judith
This memoir truly touched me. Harry you're an extraordinary man to have started life in such proverty and neglect and now at 87 still enjoying your loving family. I read the book in one day. I couldn't put it down and will read your other books as well.

I received this books with complients from Goodreads First Reads for my honest review.
David Makinson
A wonderful, poignant, honest memoir - heart rending at times, humourous at others but with an underlying resiliance from the author in telling his own story that I found both compelling and admirable.

If you like books about 'real' people then you should, in my humble opinion, read this one.
Martha
This was a hard book to read, must have been hard to write and incredibly hard to live through. I grew up very poor so can identify with parts of his early life. His is an amazing story and I look forward to reading his next book.
Pauline Barclay
1923: A Memoir is a beautiful read. A true story set during the great depression and the second World War. If you enjoy social history, you will love this book. I look forward to reading the next book from Harry Leslie Smith.
Katharine
An honest, raw, and interesting portrait of those people who are rarely remembered by history, the working poor. I truly hope Harry found happiness after the war.
Sarah
I won a free copy of this book through the Goodreads first-reads program. I'll update when I'm done reading it. :)
Cynthia L'Hirondelle
Very well written, fast moving social history that reminds of Angela's Ashes.
Carol
A clearly told story of growing up in poverty and serving in WWII.
Mary
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 a...more
KyBunnies
This book was a goodreads.com first read contest win.

While reading memoirs is not really my thing. I really did like this book. The author give's insight to something a younger person does not know anything about. Just thinking that my parents and/or grandparents had to go though something like this makes me love and respect them more.

The author talks about how he lived through a depression and WWII. One or the other is important in its self but to go through both is something amazing. There a...more
Nikki Bywater
In the first volume of Harry Leslie Smith’s memoir, we learn a first account about what it was like growing up in Yorkshire, England in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Born into poverty and the depression after the First World War in 1923, Harry does not get the best start in life. Harry and his father become distant and Harry takes his first job at only eight years old to help support the family. Not only is the family so deep in poverty but Harry is also starved of love and affection from his mother an...more
Harry Smith
Dec 08, 2010 Harry Smith rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
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 u...more
Wendy
I'm not a great fan of non fiction but this was chosen by a little online book group I belong to as their April read so I had to give it a go. I struggled with the start of the book, it didn't really flow and I wasn't captured however I'm really glad I read on through to the end as I gained some sympathy and understanding for Harry and his life. I've bought the next installment and looking forward to reading it. My grandparents were born at the start of the first world war so they must have been...more
Miriam Wakerly
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 th...more
Michael Cargill
An enjoyable and very interesting read about life during the poverty stricken 1920s and 1930s England.
Rita
I had to stop reading this book because I didn't like it at all. I thought it would be more of an inspirational - 'I had a hard life but got over it' but this book is full of resentment.
Sorry Harry that you went to the trouble of sending it to me.
If anyone else on Goodreads would like it then contact me.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 27 28 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Becoming Anna
  • Whore Stories: A Revealing History of the World's Oldest Profession
  • Honor in the Dust: Theodore Roosevelt, War in the Philippines, and the Rise and Fall of America's Imperial Dream
  • Solacers
  • An Unexpected Exile
  • Gypsy Boy On The Run
  • Oh, Beautiful: An American Family in the 20th Century
  • Days That I'll Remember: Spending Time with John Lennon and Yoko Ono
  • Cecelia and Fanny: The Remarkable Friendship Between an Escaped Slave and Her Former Mistress
  • Blind: A Memoir
  • Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina
  • Holding Breath: A Memoir of AIDS' Wildfire Days
  • The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks
  • American Isis: The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath
  • The Bank Holiday Murders: The True Story of the First Whitechapel Murders
  • The Accountant's Story: Inside the Violent World of the Medellín Cartel
  • My Faraway One: Selected Letters of Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz
  • Dead of Wynter
4491297


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 austerit...more
More about Harry Leslie Smith...
Harry's Last Stand: How the World My Generation Built is Falling Down, and What We Can Do to Save It Hamburg 1947: A Place for the Heart to Kip The Empress of Australia: A Post-War Memoir The Barley Hole Chronicles: From Hell to Hamburg

Share This Book