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My Song: A Memoir of Art, Race, and Defiance Paperback – November 13, 2012


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My Song: A Memoir of Art, Race, and Defiance + Sing Your Song: Harry Belafonte + An Evening With Harry Belafonte & Friends
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (November 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307473422
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307473424
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #264,158 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

A New York Times Notable Book 
 
“A brave and spellbinding memoir . . . Belafonte tells a sweeping story. . . . Surprising and revelatory.” —The Washington Post

“A gorgeous account of the large life of a Harlem boy.” —Garrison Keillor, The New York Times Book Review
 
“The ‘Song’ of [Belafonte’s] life has been . . . diverse, encompassing the heartbreaking ballads of poverty and loss, up-tempo pop songs of fame and wealth, and deeply felt spirituals of dedication to social justice. The world is richer for having heard them.” —The Boston Globe
 
“This rich memoir chronicles a lifetime of activism alongside some of history’s greatest heroes and sheds new light on moments that shaped our nation. Through it all, Harry exudes the same passion and candor I’ve experienced in our friendship and conversation over the years.” —President Bill Clinton

“Absorbing. . . . Belafonte is a man of many conflicting identities, all of which he’s needed to help change the world.” —New York magazine
 
“An honest, in many ways important and genuinely revelatory autobiography. . . . My Song is a more than fitting denouement for a life well lived.” —The Seattle Times
 
“Engrossing. . . . My Song is rich with vivid scenes of Belafonte working as an advisor, mediator, fundraiser and implementer.”—San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Even amid the most intensely charged subject matter, Belafonte traces a path . . . with the easygoing charm of a born raconteur. Uncluttered and free of fuss, his narrative unfolds effortlessly. . . . The world may think of Belafonte as an entertainer first and an activist second, but My Song makes it engagingly, compellingly clear that he wishes his legacy to be prioritized the other way around.” —The A.V. Club
 
“Harry Belafonte has led an extraordinary life. . . . Some of the richest passages . . . focus on Belafonte’s social engagement.” —USA Today
 
“To read Harry Belafonte’s new memoir, My Song, is to discover a man who has packed enough life for ten people into eighty-four years.” —NPR/Morning Edition
 
“Belafonte certainly knows how to make an immediate and lasting impression. My Song follows suit with prose that’s fluid yet intensely detailed. . . . [There’s] a keen awareness of his greatness and place in history—but it’s never overbearing. After all, it’s not bragging when it’s true.” —The Austin Chronicle
 
“The entertainer-activist par excellence of his generation. . . . Belafonte, despite his gift for pungent soundbites, is a thoughtful man whose barbs are often tempered by nuanced observations on art, politics and race.” —The Daily Beast
 
“Belafonte’s story is the tale of a man who has well and truly balanced stardom and serious activism.” —The New Republic
 
“A story of triumph amid adversity that focuses on the intriguing personal life of one of the 20th century’s most iconic actors.” —The Root
 
“Bracingly opinionated autobiography from an American original, still provocative in his ninth decade .” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)

About the Author

Harry Belafonte’s 1956 album Calypso made him the first artist in history to sell more than one million LPs. He has won both a Tony Award and an Emmy, and he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton. He has served as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and is the recipient of Kennedy Center Honors for excellence in the performing arts. He currently resides in New York City with his wife, Pamela.
 
Michael Shnayerson, a longtime contributing editor to Vanity Fair, is the author of Irwin Shaw; The Car That Could; The Killers Within, coauthored with Mark J. Plotkin, and Coal River, which recounted the efforts of Appalachian lawyers and grassroots groups to stop the devastating practice of mountaintop coal removal in southern West Virginia. Shnayerson’s passion for those environmental activists was one reason Harry Belafonte chose him to collaborate on his autobiography. Shnayerson lives in Bridgehampton, New York, with his daughter, Jenna.

Customer Reviews

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Mr. Belafonte is amazing and has had an amazing life .
APW
There was much much more to all of these aspects of the man, as anyone who was an adult in the west, particularly The US from about 1950-1970.
David P. Weber
Many people know well his songs, movie roles, and still-going entertainment career.
Tom Leech

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tom Leech on January 22, 2013
Verified Purchase
I've been a Harry Belafonte fan for decades, probably ever since "Day-O" became an oft-repeated phrase about 5+ decades ago. Many people know well his songs, movie roles, and still-going entertainment career. But far fewer are aware of how involved and important he was with the civil rights movement. This book tells Harry's story from when he was a child (a rough experience), how he got involved with music and show biz, the segregation he constantly ran into, plus all his relationships and actions with key black figures such as Paul Robeson, Sydney Poitier, Martin Luther King, etc. One that people might vividly recall, where he was the prime pusher, is the 1985 "We are the world" song with many key players (e.g., Michael Jackson),entertainers and others, that was a huge worldwide success and major factor in helping Africa overcome a devastating famine. Many pictures add much to this excellent book. (FYI I had a slight linkage to the year 1968, when MLK was killed, as noted in my book "On the road in '68: a year of turmoil, a journey of friendship.")
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David P. Weber on August 8, 2014
Supreme. I came to this with knowledge of Belafonte's performing and acting, and a little of his humanitarian work.

There was much much more to all of these aspects of the man, as anyone who was an adult in the west, particularly The US from about 1950-1970.

I'm simply amazed more people haven't posted on this.

It's an esteemed work, an insider's account of MLK and all of his struggles, the Kennedys, McCarthyism and what happened to the civil rights struggle after King's death.

On the showbiz side, there's stories about Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jnr, Johnny Carson, Ed Sullivan, Brando, Elvis, Michael Jackson and of course, his great friend Poitier.

But his account of his own twin careers is the most gripping..

Read this now!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rev. Melony McGant on July 4, 2014
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Mr. Harry Belafonte, I Bow to YOU in Gratitude for a Life Well Lived, A Vision of Hope and Your Continuing Warrior Spirit of Love! Thank You for Inspiring and Reminding me that We Must Continue This Journey and Do More! Thank Your for Your Integrity and The Glorious Song You Sing for Humanity to Rise Up and Live With Purpose! May We Read, Learn, Re-member and Share! Mr. Belafonte--You Are My Hero! This Book Is A Must Read For Every Human Being Across the Earth Who Aspires to Walk With Dignity and Wants A Better World For All!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul Brady on November 23, 2013
A remarkable document of a remarkable man. Apart from his massively successful global career as a singer and actor, his work on behalf of civil rights in USA and across the world was pivotal. With ready access to most of the main players in world politics over the past 50 years his story gives a wholly different insight into what happened, how and why.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Donald Garcia on January 2, 2014
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Excellent read! Mr. Belafonte told an unvarnished personal history and his courageous humanitarian involvement in the civil rights movement... I absolutely enjoyed reading it... matter-of-fact, I recommended to my sister.
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