The Measure of a Man by Sidney Poitier

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Poitier's second memoir retains the soul-searching candor that marked his first (This Life, 1980), but lacks its narrative drive.
-Publishers Weekly


"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 the contrary, I began this book as an exploration, an exercise in selfquestioning. 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."

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 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 selfworth 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 who one is, Poitier played only forceful and affecting characters who said something positive, useful, and lasting about the human condition.

Here, finally, is Poitier's own introspective look at what has informed his performances and his life. Poitier explores the nature of sacrifice and commitment, pride and humility, rage and forgiveness, and paying the price for artistic integrity, What emerges is a picture of a man seeking truth, passion, and balance 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.


About Sidney Poitier

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Sidney Poitier is an Academy Award-winning actor, a film director, a author, and a diplomat. He is the author of three bestselling autobiographical books, This Life, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography, and Life Beyond Measure: Letters to My Great-Granddaughter. Born in Miami, Florida, Poitier was raised in the Bahamas and currently lives in Beverly Hills, California, with his wife of more than four decades, Joanna Shimkus Poitier.
Published October 13, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 361 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Religion & Spirituality, Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction, Parenting & Relationships, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
Peak Rank on Feb 21 2016
Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for The Measure of a Man
All: 4 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 1

Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Mar 04 2016

Poitier's second memoir retains the soul-searching candor that marked his first (This Life, 1980), but lacks its narrative drive.

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Reviewed by Katherine Padilla on Mar 31 2010

Any reader, once reading this book, will understand the privilege just experienced from Poitier opening the door, even if only slightly, to his life and the influence his father had on him and, consequently, the entire American film industry.

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Chicago Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Bruce McCabe on Apr 28 2000

Poitier's book is full of the detours he took before establishing himself. His original 1980 autobiography, "This Life," described his life in Hollywood. This book is a personal history striving for something deeper.

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The Written World

Reviewed by Kailana on May 15 2007

After reading books like this, I am reminded that I really should read more non of these days!

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