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The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography | [Sidney Poitier]

The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography

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 a father, and as an actor.
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Publisher's Summary

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 a 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 self-worth that he has never surrendered and that have dramatically shaped his world. 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 is Poitier's own introspective look at what has informed his performances and his life. Poitier explores the nature of sacrifice and commitment, price and humility, rage and forgiveness, and paying the price for artistic integrity. What emerges is a picture of a man 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.

Actor and icon: listen to more about Sidney Poitier.
Or check out more selections from Oprah's Book Club.

©2000 Sidney Poitier; (P)2000 HarperCollins Publishers

What the Critics Say

  • Oprah's Book Club Selection
  • Audio Publishers Association 2001 Award Winner, Nonfiction, Unabridged
  • Grammy Winner, Best Spoken Word Album, 2001

"Moving...Poitier writes with vivid emotion about [past] clashes and brings them blazingly alive." (The New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (460 )
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4.4 (137 )
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3 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Kristy 07-22-13
    Kristy 07-22-13

    Practical Shopper

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "What's not to love!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Measure of a Man to be better than the print version?

    I didn't read the print version.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The well articulated history of the story.


    What does Sidney Poitier bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    EMOTION! His voice is perfect for reading anyway...in my opinion.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Absolutely!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KP Oakland, CA 04-13-13
    KP Oakland, CA 04-13-13 Member Since 2006

    There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – Emily Dickinson

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Measure of a Man"

    Although I enjoyed hearing Sidney Poitier's story, I found this book somewhat rambling. It seemed like he spoke into a recorder, and then it was transcribed into a book. It WAS fun to hear his voice as the narrator. I listened to the book and also had the Kindle version. At times I followed the print and the audio, and I found that he was speaking words that weren't in the Kindle version! The two version didn't always match, in other words. That convinced me that somehow the editing/writing was haphazard. The sections on his life in Hollywood and his intersection with the civil rights movement were the most interesting. The "spiritual" part about his outlook on life etc was not as uplifting as I had hoped.

    I can remember being a first year teacher way back when and thinking of Poitier's movie, To Sir with Love, and how he faces an unruly class. I remember asking myself, " What would Sidney Poitier do?" when a situation occurred that was similar to the movie where a student dropped a sanitary napkin or tampax on the classroom floor :) I need to find that movie and watch it now - so many years later.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stacey Arcola, IL, United States 03-12-13
    Stacey Arcola, IL, United States 03-12-13 Member Since 2012
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    "WOW!!!!!!!!!!"
    If you could sum up The Measure of a Man in three words, what would they be?

    AMAZING LIKE SIDNEY!


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I'm still just in the first chapter and I've laughed out loud and cried. This book is amazing already! I cannot wait to finish it, but will be so sad when it's over!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LynneG The Rocky Mountains, USA 03-01-13
    LynneG The Rocky Mountains, USA 03-01-13 Member Since 2006

    Yarn Yearner, Story Seeker, Legend Lover, Fable Fanatic and Tale Teller

    ratings
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    3
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    "Things I Never Knew About Poitier"
    Would you listen to The Measure of a Man again? Why?

    I don't generally listen to things more than once. There is too much to learn in the world.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Poitier as a child was fascinating. What different people we might all be if all of us grew up not knowing what others had. The concept of contentment because there is no knowledge that there is more was something to think about. Rather than 5 year olds demanding designer jeans, how about a childhood where if you are hungry, you go fishing or gather fruit. Nobody has"things" so the avaricious tendencies of our society are tempered. Poitier recognizes the value of an extremely simple childhood. What a boon if more children could grow up this way.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    How much do we REALLY need?


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    GJ 09-10-12
    GJ 09-10-12
    ratings
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    12
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    "Great Story"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Measure of a Man to be better than the print version?

    Yes! To hear the author tell "his" story seem to bring it to life. By emphasizing the things that were important to him, made the story more real and enjoyable.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Measure of a Man?

    His childhood, when he talked about his father and the lessons learned from him, which actually dictates the title of the Book.


    Which character – as performed by Sidney Poitier – was your favorite?

    It was his own character, as he relived the importance of the lessons that became the measures of this man.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When he spoke of his mother, her love and their closeness as a family. She was really the core of the family. She cooked, cleaned, did all the chores and took care of the family, and never complained.


    Any additional comments?

    The Measure of a Man is not a "tell all" or "biography", but the wonderful story of a man's values and morals. It speaks to the measures of humanity and how it applied to this man's life. Really Good Book!!!!! I highly recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Infrequent Buyer 05-21-12 Member Since 2011
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    "A pure treat! Honest and moving!"

    Mr. Poitier's incredible voice of course is one of the highlights of this purchase! His honest story of his life is at once magical and relatably ordinary. I had to watch 'Patch of Blue' to extend my Sidney Poitier experience and bought the paperback for my mother for Mother's Day! I would like to write Sidney a letter and encourage him to stage his production that he was so moved by another's stage performance to create and 'let the lion within roar!' We would love to come and see you!!! This is the only reason I clicked 4 stars for the story instead of 5. I was sad that he hadn't produced and starred in his own stage production! Thank you for writing this book, Sidney Poitier!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marie Port Shepstone, South Africa 05-14-12
    Marie Port Shepstone, South Africa 05-14-12
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    "Excellent in every way. A very worthwhile listen."
    If you could sum up The Measure of a Man in three words, what would they be?

    Congruent, Honest. Entertaining.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Sidney


    Which scene was your favorite?

    His early life with his parents


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    At times I laughed and at other times, I wept.


    Any additional comments?

    Beautiful diction and pronunciation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela MEMPHIS, TN, United States 05-08-12
    Pamela MEMPHIS, TN, United States 05-08-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Cat island youth to manhood"

    HIs articulation of the english language and memory of his youth and the stepping stones to manhood were amazing. His business since and determination to only except excellent roles to his childhood charater and behaviors made him what he is today exceptional, professional, and great.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul United States 05-04-12
    Paul United States 05-04-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "HEAR you GO!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This takes audio books to a new high for me. The full measure of a man in his own words! Unequaled and Superb. If you only had one audio book in your library this would be that book. That Good!


    What did you like best about this story?

    The author takes you into his mind and values on a solid gold adventure in reality. We may not all measure up though we may have the nerve to stand and cheer when it's been done with such integrity and honesty.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Don't be small it was all good!


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    That's the thing! The film has been made this is THE STORY! that is woven between them.


    Any additional comments?

    Wow. I had no Idea I could be so Angry I couldn't loan it to a friend!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Toyin Daranijoh 03-12-12 Listener Since 2005
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    6
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    "Stand out"
    If you could sum up The Measure of a Man in three words, what would they be?

    Wisdom


    What did you like best about this story?

    The Transition from poor to rich and how you never get away from being poor.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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