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Measure of a Man, The Audio, Cassette – Abridged, Audiobook, Unabridged

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Editorial Reviews Review

Sidney Poitier wrote The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography because he "felt called to write about certain values, such as integrity and commitment, faith and forgiveness, about the virtues of simplicity, about the difference between 'amusing ourselves to death' and finding meaningful pleasures--even joy." Yet Poitier's book does not speak from on high; its tone is conversational and endearingly self-critical. He begins the first chapter by recounting an evening spent channel-surfing and wondering, as most of us do at one time or another, "What am I doing with my time?" The spiritual reflections in The Measure of a Man are nonsectarian; Poitier's faith is clearly influenced by his experience in Christian churches, but he is not, strictly, Christian. Though idiosyncratic, his faith is disciplined and rigorous, informed by leaders as diverse as Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Poitier's love--for himself, his family, and the world--infuses his recollections of his early life on Cat Island in the Bahamas and his memories of his stage and film career (including his Oscar-winning role in Lilies of the Field). Poitier has been rich and poor; he has been popular and despised; and his extremely varied experiences have made him a wise man, as he demonstrates with statements like this one: "[W]hat we do is stay within the context of what's practical, what's real, what dreams can be fashioned into reality, what values can send us to bed comfortably and make us courageous enough to face our end with character." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From 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).
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: HarperAudio; Unabridged edition (April 5, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0694521965
  • ISBN-13: 978-0694521968
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 4.1 x 2.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (392 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,924,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

146 of 155 people found the following review helpful By Eric Wilson on February 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
Being a good little white boy, I knew little about Sidney, but felt respect for him as an actor due, in part, to my discovery of "The Defiant Ones" as a child. (The movie is a powerful work about racism, and I loved it.)

This spiritual autobiography is no judgmental, squeaky-clean depiction of walking with God, nor is it an in-depth detour into the tribal religions available to Sidney as a child in the Bahamas. This book is an open-hearted view of the circumstances and, more importantly, the values that guided Sidney Poitier to the pinnacle of acting. He candidly discusses his failures as husband and father. He speaks lovingly of the example his parents gave him. And he shows the power of holding to your integrity no matter the cost.

By holding to this integrity, Sidney lost some opportunities and also gained respect from the white community, while facing ridicule as a "sell-out" from his own community. What stands out in his story is his desire to bring these communities together with respect, refusing to be dragged down by the bigotry and anger of either side. He speaks powerfully, encouraging us to focus anger in a positive way.

Mr. Poitier writes in an eloquent, yet communicative style. At times, he borders on unfocused rambling, but even then he has worthy things to say. This book is a valuable discourse on never giving up on your goals, on reaching beyond yourself to be who you were truly created to be. Thank you, Sidney, for your time.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Connecticut Reader on May 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I grew up in the South and, when I was in high school in the early sixties, Mr. Poitier's two blockbusters, "Raison in the Sun" and "Lilies of the Field" came out. There was something about him, even then, that caught my attention. Who WAS this man? It always seemed he was a "thinker" - a "seeker" - a bit restless with himself.

I recently picked up The Measure of a Man and my curiosity made me read it. Who IS this man - I wanted at last to find out.

The book begins in Cat Island, the Bahamas where he was born and lived during his early years. As Mr. Poitier describes his youth, it is reflective and feels like an intimate fireside conversation with a friend talking about a loved one departed. There is gratitude and respect - a certain remorse for doing some "kid things" that are so hurtful to those you truly love - and a reexamination of some of the "truths" he was taught.

Then the autobiography goes from there onto other stages in his life where he interacts with the realities and the illusions of life and comes to a sense of who he is and what is important. I guess I expected more of a "success story" about someone who is obviously very accomplished. What I got instead was a very touching and poignant sharing of a personal journey of a man making his way through life - no better and no worse than anyone else - immune from neither happiness nor disappointment - but glad to be alive.

Because so much of Mr. Poitier's autobiography had to do with things both good and challenging that just showed up in his life, it reminded me of another book by Ariel & Shya Kane called Being Here: Modern Day Tales of Enlightenment. In Being Here, the Kanes talk about things that have happened in their lives in a very light way that demonstrates how they and we can experience life more fully and more deeply - by just "being there" for what's happening when it's happening.

I really enjoyed reading both of these books and recommend them
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By annie VINE VOICE on April 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I would highly recommend this book to everyone. While I do not always enjoy autobiographies, this book is a great exception. It is not just filled with dates and facts. It reaches inside the man and into his very soul. From his beginning on Cat Island, to today's highly successful life as an actor, Sidney Poitier has had an incredible life. He was blessed early in life with the greatest blessing anyone can have - great parents! This book made me stop and think of all the many blessings in my life, too many of which I take for granted sometimes. I hope that everyone who reads this book, and especially young people, will benefit from his insight and wisdom.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Reginald Johnson on January 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
I started out writing this review, begrudgingly. Once I heard "The Measure of a Man" had been selected by Oprah's Book Club, my initial reaction was: "There will be a million reviews and my two cents will be lost in a crowd-of -redundancies".

With the above caveat, I am recommending this latest effort by Sidney Poitier, not only for what is in the book - I am endorsing it for what it lacks. Let me explain:

Too often we hear public figures, with limited accomplishments (when compared to Mr. Poitier), extolling the virtues of their being - while asking one and all to bow down, kneel before their greatness, and kiss their naked feet. This book lacks that pomposity.

Grandiose and vainglorious statements are replaced with accounts of compassion and humility. He states, quite eloquently: "I have no wish to play the pontificating fool, pretending that I've suddenly come up with answers to all life's questions". In spite of this assertion, there are "pearls of wisdom" on every page.

His strength of character, endurance, and instinct for survival, can be traced, for me, anyway, back to the time when he was a kid. His mother kept throwing him back into the ocean --- until he could stay afloat on his own.

I liked what his father, Reginald, (whose name, I much admire!) said to him: "The measure of a man is how well he provides for his kids". They were words from a man with limited means, yet possessed the insight, wisdom, and cornerstones, for survival of civilized society.

From this exquisite book, I am convinced --- the true measure for all of us is not where we stand when times are bountiful, good, and rewarding, but where we position ourselves at times of crisis, peril, and uncertainty.
Get this book. Whatever standard one uses ... it measures up!
Reggie Johnson, Success-Tapes.Com
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