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
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).
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