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Publisher's Summary

In this luminous memoir, a true American icon looks back on his celebrated life and career. His body of work is arguably the most morally significant in cinematic history, and the power and influence of that work are indicative of the character of the man behind the many storied roles. Sidney Poitier here explores these elements of character and personal values to take his own measure: as a man, as a husband and a father, and as an actor. Poitier credits his parents and his childhood on tiny Cat Island in the Bahamas for equipping him with the unflinching sense of right and wrong and of self-worth that he has never surrendered and that have dramatically shaped his world. Without television, radio, and material distractions to obscure what matters most, he could enjoy the simple things, endure the long commitments, and find true meaning in his life.
Poitier was uncompromising as he pursued a personal and public life that would honor his upbringing and the invaluable legacy of his parents. Just a few years after his introduction to indoor plumbing and the automobile, Poitier broke racial barrier after racial barrier to launch a pioneering acting career. Committed to the notion that what one does for a living articulates who one is, Poitier played only forceful and affecting characters who said something positive, useful, and lasting about the human condition.
Here is Poitier's own introspective look at what has informed his performances and his life. Poitier explores the nature of sacrifice and commitment, price and humility, rage and forgiveness, and paying the price for artistic integrity. What emerges is a picture of a man in the face of limits - his own and the world's. A triumph of the spirit, The Measure of a Man captures the essential Poitier.
Actor and icon: listen to more about Sidney Poitier. Or check out more selections from Oprah's Book Club.
©2000 Sidney Poitier (P)2000 HarperCollins Publishers
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Critic Reviews

Oprah's Book Club Selection
Audio Publishers Association 2001 Award Winner, Nonfiction, Unabridged
Grammy Winner, Best Spoken Word Album, 2001
"Moving...Poitier writes with vivid emotion about [past] clashes and brings them blazingly alive." (The New York Times Book Review)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Gail Kelleher on 02-03-07


Poitier tells his story with humor, humility and wisdom. I am not usually interested in the life of celebrities but maybe I should be. The topics he covers are all over the place and he can make listening to anything worthwhile. His personal experiences coming to the U.S. before the civil rights movement, his selectiveness about the roles he would play and his insights into the films and plays he starred in are so interesting. I want to rent his movies and think about his comments. I liked his thoughts on parenting and belonging. Great audio. He should write more and this should be listened to, not read.

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23 of 23 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Alfred on 10-29-08


I have listened to dozens of audio books (I have a daily work commute of about 60 miles roundtrip) and this is the first time I have written a review. This recording compelled me to do so. This work is not a chronological, blow-by-blow description of Poitier's life. If you are looking for that, this is not a book for you. Rather, it is a summation of some of the significant events in his life and the effect that those events had on the development of his being and character. I found this approach to be refreshing. It is obvious that Poitier's ability to write equals, or surpasses, his ability to act. But what made this recording special is Poitier's reading of it. He pours the full dramatic power of his voice (which is substantial) into it. It is clear that he is speaking from the heart. It is almost as if the listener is sitting at Poitier's kitchen table, sipping coffee with him, while he tells you about his life. Like a good movie, this is a recording that I will listen to several times to make sure that I hear, and comprehend, all of the nuances in the story. Oh...and one more thing. There isn't the slightest hint of ego or self-aggrandizement in this work. It is purely from the heart. I highly recommend it.

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22 of 22 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
1 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on 03-09-07


A boring and pretentious book. The saving grace is that it is read by Sidney Poitier himself. Any other narrator and I probably would have switched it off. If I had had to read it, I would have given up long before the end. Buy something else.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By Nancy on 04-05-07

Slow and a good sedative!

I was interested in the book as Oprah had raved about it, I like to listen to them in the car, but not this one as his voice would put me to sleep. Towards the middle end of the book, his recounts of the movie era are interesting but I would say it was disappointing.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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