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My Song: A Memoir Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 11, 2011
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“In My Song, a brave and spellbinding memoir written with Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Shnayerson, Belafonte tells a sweeping story . . . riveting . . . In these days of national and global uncertainty, with the numbers of poor steadily rising, there are lessons aplenty in the life of Harry Belafonte, as told in this surprising and revelatory book.” —Wil Haygood, Washington Post
“ . . . engrossing autobiographical account of a life devoted in equal parts to entertainment and social causes. My Song is rich with vivid scenes of Belafonte working as an adviser, mediator, fundraiser and implementer with such players as John and Robert Kennedy and King.” —Tom Nolan, San Francisco Chronicle
“Here is a gorgeous account of the large life of a Harlem boy . . . Scenes of extravagant waste, scenes of righteous anger—rich contradictions abound—with little attempt to explain them away, a mark of the honest autobiographer.” —Garrison Keillor, New York Times Book Review
“Absorbing . . .” —Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, New York
“To read Harry Belafonte's new memoir, My Song, is to discover a man who has packed enough life for 10 people into 84 years.” —“Morning Edition,” NPR
“Somewhere amid the accounts of when he became the first artist to sell a million copies of an album, the first black leading actor to romance a white leading actress in a major Hollywood film, and the man who was asked to help pick out the clothes that Martin Luther King Jr. would be buried in, you realize just how extraordinary Harry Belafonte’s life has been. If Belafonte had simply pursued one strand of that life - the immensely popular singer, the Tony Award-winning actor, the powerful political and social activist - it would have made fascinating material for a book. That he managed to cram all three into his 84 years makes My Song, his captivating memoir written with Michael Shnayerson, not only a sometimes exhausting chronicle of Belafonte’s own story but an intriguing look at US history from the late ’40s to the present. . . . One of the book’s triumphs involves the way Belafonte and Shnayerson manage to capture Belafonte’s distinctive voice . . . You can almost hear him narrate the story in his stately rasp.” —Sarah Rodman, The Boston Globe
“Bracingly opinionated autobiography from an American original, still provocative in his ninth decade.” —Kirkus (starred)
About the Author
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.
Top Customer Reviews
Will he make it past the scars of early poverty and other demons of his growing up? Will he make it past grief at the deaths of heroes and close friends and the break up of marriages, the loss of dear friendships? Will he maintain the integrity that is threatened in this culture by both wealth and celebrity? Will he throw in the towel? There is an element of suspense in My Song that makes it a gripping companion to Taylor Branch and the work of others As I read I found myself almost praying for him. Strike the "almost".
In a sense the prayers are not just for Harry Belafonte, but for all of us. Handsome or not, known to many or just a few, something about Belafonte's story says that we can step up, and he encourages us, all of us, to continue to struggle to do so.
For those who seek to keep the legacies of King and Robeson, Mandela and Fannie Lou Haimer, Ella Baker and Malcolm X alive, this is a book to be cherished.Read more ›
Here is a story full of life -- that is to say full of its challenges, tragedies, pathos and victories, both lows and highs -- that challenge and warm the human spirit. But somehow too, it is a life in which against all odds the good guy keeps on winning. As he crosses the red-hot coals of America's racist society, Mr. Belafonte just keeps jumping from one preset trap after another, until he has simply grown too big, too powerful and too rich for the traps to work against him any longer. And while he never completely crosses the hot desert sands (no one ever does in this society), he does repeatedly subdue American racism by "outfoxing" and "end-running" it.
Born on the cusp of the Black Renaissance - a dirt-poor immigrant with meager talents, and from a broken family - Harry Belafonte caught the last seat on the train that contained the heroes of that era. Not only did he rub shoulders with the likes of Paul Robeson and WEB Du Bois, but also they were among his mentors, teachers and friends. So too were a host of other Hollywood types that later gained great fame (or infamy) as more than just plastic personalities. They included Marlon Brando and Shelly Winters, among many others.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've been crazy about Harry Belafonte for over 50 years, so was really anxious to read this book. He comes across as very full of himself, a serial cheater, and to hear him tell... Read morePublished 1 month ago by P. K Sykes
The author, a talented actor and singer, grew up in poverty in Jamaica and then Harlem. He did not have an easy childhood, but it gave him the drive to make good. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Blaine Greenfield
To fully understand what Belafonte meant to the black World , and the world in general you must be from the Caribbean. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Jeffrey A Williams
Super interesting read. I am learning a lot of the inside story of the civil rights movement.Published 11 months ago by Marina Suter