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The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography

by Sidney Poitier

Library Journal Winner of this year's Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album, this production is a delight in every way, with the narration by Poitier appropriately dramatic and mellifluous. The story of his meteoric and fated rise to fame as a successful actor respected by his peers almost belies his hardscrabble beginnings on Cat Island off the coast of the Bahamas. And the "lucky star" Poitier falls under is actually the common denominator among all successful people: a willingness to work harder, and an innate resourcefulness, including the ability to listen to one's own instincts and to move when the time is right. If this sounds philosophical, it is; the book is much more than another celebrity memoir. It is not only Poitier's reflection on a long life in the world of arts and entertainment but also a statement of his personal views on what it means to be a good man, honed in discussions with friends and fellow travelers on life's journey who were themselves of a philosophical frame of mind. Highly recommended. Mark Pumphrey, Polk Cty. P.L., Columbus, NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Poitier's second memoir retains the soul-searching candor that marked his first (This Life, 1980), but lacks its narrative drive. After painting an idyllic portrait of his youth on Cat Island in the Bahamas ("a place of purity"), Poitier traces his path to Hollywood stardom with frustratingly broad strokes. (For the details of Poitier's journey, and his involvement in the civil rights movement, readers are left to consult his earlier work.) Poitier demonstrates the strength of his character with moving stories about his struggles with racism, and he includes anecdotes about his roles in such memorable productions as A Raisin in the Sun, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night and A Patch of Blue. But in the end, this book reads like the random thoughts of a sincere and honorable celebrity channeled through the pen of an experienced and jaded ghostwriter. As an autobiography, it is "spiritual" only in the loosest sense of the term. Poitier's relationship with God, whom he conceives in Hollywood terms as a vague cosmic consciousness, is not mentioned until one of the last chapters of the book. Throughout, he offers moralizing reflections on rage, forgiveness ("a sacred process"), marriage, parenting, prostate cancer and the burning question of whether Sidney Poitier has a dark side. "I had come to believe a little bit in my own press clippings," he notes, reflecting on his reputation as a man of unusual integrity and virtue; for better and for worse, this book contains little to complicate that belief. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Publishers Weekly Given the personal nature of this narrative, it's impossible to imagine hearing anyone other than Poitier, with his distinctive, resonant voice and perfect enunciation, tell the story. In his second memoir Poitier talks about his childhood in the Caribbean, where he was terribly poor by American standards, but quite happy, swimming and climbing all he could. One of eight kids, Poitier was sent to live with an older brother in Miami when he started to get into difficulties as a teen. But frustrated by his inability to earn a living and by the disparaging way whites treated him, Poitier left Miami for New York. There he worked as a dishwasher, started a drama class and launched a celebrated acting career that led to starring roles in such classics as To Sir, with Love and Raisin in the Sun. Poitier's rendition of these events is so moving that listeners will wish this audio adaptation were twice as long. Simultaneous release with the Harper San Francisco hardcover (Forecasts, May 1). (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal There should be a rule that celebrities can't write memoirs until they are at least 70 to avoid the inevitable rehashing of one's life in a second or even third memoir. Poitier wrote his first autobiography (This Life) in 1980 and is following it up now with a second. However, in addition to rehashing some of the stories from the first book, he also wants to share his wisdom and ponder the meaning of life. He wistfully remembers the simplicity of growing up on Cat Island in the Bahamas and pities privileged children who have never experienced such an unspoiled life. He regrets his early divorce and the effects it had on his children. There is almost a sense of apology as Poitier examines his actions, but at the same time there is quite a bit of self-importance. By the end, he seems to have forgiven himself and figured it all out: "We're all imperfect, and life is simply a perpetual unending struggle against those imperfections." When he talks about acting technique, the book sizzles, but otherwise it is not a necessary purchase unless book promotion efforts generate requests. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/00.]--Rosellen Brewer, Monterey Cty. Free Libs., Salinas, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list By any measure, Sidney Poitier has led a remarkably successful life. One of the legendary American actors, he has starred in more than 40 films and acted in many successful Broadway plays. His career is even more remarkable considering his background. Born dirt poor in the Bahamas, Poitier came to the U.S. penniless at age 15 in 1943. After working odd jobs and scraping by in Florida and New York City, Poitier landed, by chance, a small acting role. His performance was noticed by talent scouts, and with a combination of luck, grit, and sheer willpower, he went on to become Hollywood's first leading black actor and one of its greatest stars. In Measure, Poitier attempts to unravel for himself his own remarkable life story, looking at early life experiences, his family, and various themes that he believes have contributed to his success. Measure is not a chronological autobiography; the book emphasizes themes that have shaped his life. The author examines rural poverty, racism in "Jim Crow" Florida, morality, self-esteem, and the nature of being an "outsider" . Poitier is an excellent storyteller, and the book is anecdotally rich. Calling this autobiography--the author's second--"spiritual" may be somewhat misleading. Religion is a minor part of the story. Instead, Poitier's tale is an affirmation of the value of morality and personal integrity in leading a successful, fulfilling life. --Ted Leventhal

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal Following his autobiography (This Life); something with a spiritual dimension. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.