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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

Critic Reviews

  • 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 Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Amazing book

This is a very very good book with alot of wisdom in it. I highly recommend it.

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Extremely Captivating !

Great book! Very engaging and informative! This is a must read , I highly recommend it!

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A Real Pioneer

The name Sidney Poitier always sounded a bit exotic to me as a youngster, and I guess it still does. Maybe it was the little touch of French in the last name. Maybe it was the associating of the name with the man, who I loved from the first time I saw him in a movie. I knew he was a man of character. I grew up in a rather isolated place where no black people lived. I don’t think I saw a black person until I was at least in my teens, other than in the movies or on TV. But oddly, I didn’t see “a black man” when I first saw Poitier. I just saw a good honest man with a fabulous voice and a personal magnetism that seemed to draw me to him. I mean, I knew he was black. But that held little meaning for me.

With that said, I liked this book and I didn’t like it. I listened to it read by SP himself and that was great. He has an infectious laugh, or chuckle in this case, and a deeply resonant and comforting voice. But sometimes I felt like it was preachy and sometimes it just gave too much information. But I still love the man. He is a testament to what any of us can do if we keep trying and don’t give up. As I was watching a short program on the fabulous and successful career of Denzel Washington, I could not help but think that he owes part of his success to Poitier who scored so many firsts for black actors. I had to stop and think how much we all would have missed if these and other equally talented and wonderful people who just happen to have a darker skin were not able to enrich all of our lives.

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Excellent

I read this book some years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. In this audio rendition, Mr. Poitier does an excellent narration. It's as if you & he are in a cozy study in comfortable chairs and he's telling you about his thoughts on life along with some of his own life experiences.

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Thank you!

Thank you for sharing your story and the life nuggets, Mr. Poitier! I really enjoyed it.

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An Honest and Heartfelt Autobiography

From his early years growing up in the Bahamas through his struggles raising a family and starting a career in acting Sidney Poitier tells his own story along with his thoughts on life and its meaning. The Audible edition is worth listening to, though I gave the performance only four stars ironically because his voice trails off to a whisper at times making it difficult to hear while driving in the car.

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Ego driven & Unenlightened

An average story told overly theatrically. I was disappointed because I love his acting, however it comes across as pompous, arrogant and ultimately, selfish and unrelatable.

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Wow...What a Story

This was a real treat writen and read by Mr. Poitier. So much wisdom!

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Mr Portier's view is brilliant

There is so much to learn from Mr. Portier's life. We can all learn from one another, but some of the things that he spoke of in his book...are profound and apply to everyone, and every life.

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informative and enlightening

Very well told story. I have always liked Mr. Poitier, but this book give me a humanizing image of him and his strong character. I really enjoyed this audio book.