The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography (Oprah's Book Club) - book cover
Arts & Literature
  • Publisher : HarperSanFrancisco
  • Published : 26 Jan 2007
  • Pages : 272
  • ISBN-10 : 0061357901
  • ISBN-13 : 9780061357909
  • Language : English

The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography (Oprah's Book Club)

"I have no wish to play the pontificating fool, pretending that I've suddenly come up with the answers to all life's questions. Quite that contrary, I began this book as an exploration, an exercise in self-questing. In other words, I wanted to find out, as I looked back at a long and complicated life, with many twists and turns, how well I've done at measuring up to the values I myself have set."
-Sidney Poitier

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. "In the kind of place where I grew up," recalls Poitier, "what's coming at you is the sound of the sea and the smell of the wind and momma's voice and the voice of your dad and the craziness of your brothers and sisters...and that's it." 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 to 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.

Editorial Reviews

"With the unwavering sense of dignity and worth . . .this man's authenticity is earned by the life he describes." -- Los Angeles Times

Reading The Measure of a Man is somewhat akin to having a worthwhile conversation with a revered older relative; he doesn't always tell you what you want to hear, but you appreciate it just the same. -- Washington Post

An affecting new memoir. -- Dallas Morning News

In this powerful book, [Poitier] shares his touchsotnes with us and makes us question what foundations guide our own lives. -- Ebony

Revealing . . . Poitier invites us to re-examine his work and, through it, our history. -- New York Times Magazine

Candid memoirs from teh actor who has starred in more than forty movies, directed nine, and written four. -- USA Today

Reflective, generous, humane . . . moving . . .[Poitier] writes with vivid emotion. -- New York Times Book Review

Having already penned a book about his professsional life, legendary actor Sidney Poitier tackles a greater subject--life itself--with this new spiritual autobiography. -- American Way

Readers Top Reviews

karen service Mari
I chose to read this book because I am a lifelong fan of Mr. Poitier. He didn't disappoint me. He is as true to himself today as he portrayed himself to be in the many films he played parts and starred in. I can't wait to reach into the old classics and see him come to life in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner". He arose from simple beginnings on a little known island in the Bahamas , with no formal education. Miami was too harsh for a 15 yr. Old so he used his paycheck as a dishwasher, boarded a bus heading north and got off in NYC. Sidney was never exposed to racism until his family moved to Nassau .
What I thought would just be a story about the life of an actor whose work I had always liked, ended up being so much more than that. Mr. Poitier provides not only the story of his life but also a glimpse of the story of being black in the twentieth century. Sadly, while this book was written twenty years ago, many of the concerns, frustrations and struggles that he faced are still very relevant and current today.
I felt like Sidney Poitier was sitting next to me on the couch and telling me about his life. This conversation included the context of where he spent his time and his reflections on the issues facing the planet. It was so real that emotions welled up in me and these were both happy and sad as appropriate. At the end Sydney debated about a one act play with himself as the actor. Whereas he did not seem to do this on the stage as he imagined, he did it through this book, at least for me, and I am so grateful that he did.
Macks Master
I have always admired Mr. Poitier and also read his first book. This book gave me some thoughtful contemplations. In the time of Black Lives Matter, I read about a few of his more horrific experiences and knew many more some humiliations happened daily. Still, he learned and practiced forgiveness for the health of his own soul. He had much to say about the age of electronic devices and lack of community I definitely agree. This is a true and thoughtful man. I thank him. After reading this book, I believe we will each come away with something different but meaningful.
I enjoyed the book, the drive of a man all through his life. I hope many people have read this and will read it. It teaches the responsibility of a man (and a women also) to their own life and for their family. Only we can be the person we should be by striving to do so through all kinds of ups and downs in life. Life is not easy but it can be wonderful if we work at a goal and achieve it. We always need to continue to make ourselves, our family and the world a better place

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