5.0 out of 5 stars review of measure
The measure of a man is a story of integrity and character,anyone who would like to know something about the true man Poitier is should read this selection, but not just who Poitier is but also anyone who's looking for questions about themselves. Questions of life discipline, integrity. I also recommend it to a person who is open to a broad band of religion and isn't set...
Published on Feb. 15 2002 by Andy
3.0 out of 5 stars Character
When I began reading this book (audio), I didn't truly know what to expect but to learn a bit more about this man who has appeared in so many fine motion pictures. In the eight hours of listening, I came to see Poitier as a man of character and integrity, something missing in so many men and women in the theatre today. It was fascinating to learn of his background in...
Published on Nov. 23 2001 by Dan Schobert
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Measure of a Man, a literary addition to Poitier's life,
This review is from: The Measure Of A Man (Hardcover)
Sidney Poitier fans are not hard to come by and would thoroughly enjoy this book, seeing as how the tone of the book is exemplary of Poitier's signature calm and confident demeanor.
_The Measure of a Man_ is organized into eleven sections that take the reader sequentially through the main lessons of Poitier's life with insights by the author looking back. Each section contains several stories from Poitier's life, each flowing seamlessly into the next. For example, under the chapter title, 'Life in Black and White' Poitier recalls the Harlem, New York that he loved. He opens with the politics of the area, including the fact that blacks were expected to go into New York City to work, but once the day was over, they were expected to stay far away from downtown, which segways into Poitier recalling the great nightlife of Harlem which in turn leads to a story of a specific man who was able to stay in Harlem as a hot item for one week annually. The man saved his money all year to spend on himself and others in the city in seven days before returning to Poitier's home place, Cat Island. These examples, along with many others support the overall lesson of this section; that the author was faced with discrimination many times, but he did not accept it into his beliefs and was happier with himself and his lifestyle.
The highlight of the book for me was understanding how Poitier's beginnings and upbringing support the life of an actor so well. Poitier never comes out and states, "this is what happened when I was a kid and at this moment on stage I drew from it," rather it is left to the reader to make the connections which I rather enjoyed. Any aspiring actor or speaker can take note from Poitier's examples and apply them to their own situation.
Anyone faced with adversity can respect and draw strength from Poitier's firm beliefs that had to be proven over and over again. His upbringing comes in to play in this aspect because he was raised in the 1940s but was unaware of racial segregation for the majority of his childhood. Being raised on an island where everyone was black with the exception of two people was helpful for Poitier because he developed his sense of self without the concept of prejudice. When this was introduced to him in his early teens, Poitier was already developed enough to feel confident enough to reject bigotry.
I have read other reviews that found tones of "black anger" in Poitier's story and I have found none. I believe he tells his story from his point of view and it is a viewpoint of equality for all men and a view of high self-respect, containing no notable tones of "black anger."
Some less enjoyable moments of _The Measure of a Man_ are the times Poitier drops names like a novice at a networking luncheon. Anyone who writes an autobiography thinks enough of himself or his story that he expects others to be interested. Poitier, for the most part does this unpretentiously and without excessiveness. Unfortunately, that makes the few times he does preach all the more noticeable. When recalling a filming, an integral meeting, or a high stakes encounter, Poitier drops a lot of names. Reading through the lists five or six lines long full of names becomes a bit tedious.
Another aspect to be aware of is that where as this is a great book for anyone looking to know more about Poitier's career, but anyone questioning about his family or personal life will be disappointed.
Sidney Poitier's _The Measure of a Man_, published by Harper SanFransisco is the literary addition to Poitier's life, and is not to be missed by those who respect his work.
5.0 out of 5 stars review of measure,
This review is from: The Measure Of A Man (Hardcover)
The measure of a man is a story of integrity and character,anyone who would like to know something about the true man Poitier is should read this selection, but not just who Poitier is but also anyone who's looking for questions about themselves. Questions of life discipline, integrity. I also recommend it to a person who is open to a broad band of religion and isn't set on one particular religion, but open to a broad christianity. Sidney tells us of religion, but he never tells us of a particular one or group he belongs to, instead he takes things from many religions and kind of lumps all of their values and aspects into one form of his own particular standards and beliefs, he takes us on a journey through time, the trials and tribulations of his own life. The book also tackles the very controversial issue of race and segregation, and breaking through the race barrier, through pure determination.
The book starts of with Sidney watching T.V. and not being able to find anything on the television. He's frustrated with the fact that there are 97 channels on the television, but nothing to watch on them. He says he starts to think of "...images of a time in my life when things were so much simpler, when my options for entertainment couldn't be counted on a scale from 1 to 97." From this point the rest of the book is a continual flashback, structured into main points of the authors life from growing up on Cat Island to making movies, and to dealing with international stardom, a journey through time if you will. Its written in a very conversational style of writing, making you believe that your sitting right in front of Poitier himself, watching him tell his story and interacting with him with either disbelief, joy, or laughter. The book is well written from front to back, and because of this and his conversational style of writing, the events he describes, his actions, his feelings and his thoughts, are greatly illustrated. After reading a measure, you don't just feel as if you meet a man, you feel as if you lived with a man, through his struggles and through his success.
I enjoyed the book thouroghly, he says in his introduction he didn't want to write a book about his life, instead he "wanted to write a book about life. Just life itself." I think he accomplishes this throughout his book. He doesn't make the focus on his particular life, instead he uses his life as an example to others. He doesn't make it a standard he makes it a lesson, for all to read and all to learn from. It's an intriguing tail of a man who came from nowhere and wasn't given anything or any special treatment, but fought his way to the top, all by himself. It is an inspiring tail of self determination and tells a story everyone can learn from.
3.0 out of 5 stars Character,
This review is from: Measure Of A Man, The (Audio Cassette)
When I began reading this book (audio), I didn't truly know what to expect but to learn a bit more about this man who has appeared in so many fine motion pictures. In the eight hours of listening, I came to see Poitier as a man of character and integrity, something missing in so many men and women in the theatre today. It was fascinating to learn of his background in Jamaica, a background that most would view as one of poverty but one which was rich in building character. In his own words Poitier describes his journey from poor kid to a man of honor in the entertainment business. The audio book conveys the slight voicings of words which can not be done with simply the printed page; these add color to the presentation. Someone wishing to know a bit more of the background of his movies will find this book a welcome addition. In my opinion he might have spent a bit more time explaining his educational experience. Hearing his voice and knowing the words are his, makes a person wonder how this all came to be.
The latter moments of this work includes pages of Poitier trying to explain his worldview, his religion. It is, my opinion, a confused view, combining elements of Roman Catholicism (not the same as Christianity), spiritualism (from his days in Jamaica), the atheism/naturalism of Carl Sagan (a friend), idealism, and an acceptance of evolutionism. That he would go to this area of his experience was not unexpected, given the book's subtitle. To be fair, understanding this realm of his thinking will contribute to anyone's appreciation of Poitier as an actor as well as a man.
4.0 out of 5 stars Does this one measure up? (3.5 Stars),
When I chose to read THE MEASURE OF A MAN: A SPIRITUAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY by Sidney Poitier this year, it had nothing to do with the fact that he is an American icon who is recognized and respected by many throughout the world. If truth were told, I've only seen 4 of his 40+ films, which clearly establishes the fact that I am no Sidney Poitier movie buff. I simply chose to add this book to my reading list this year because I was drawn to its title.
For me, the title meant that this charismatic and successful man would look back over his long complex life to share some insights to the kind of scale he used to measure and/or weigh the true meaning of his life. Just as a scale is arranged in graded series, so are the significant events in Poitier's life. Even though this book does not tell his life in chronological order, it does present events in his life as themes, which were shaped by the times and circumstances that surrounded him.
Clearly at the base of his scale are the strong core values/morals he learned from his parents while growing up on the tiny Cat Island in the Bahamas. It will be those core values that sustain him upon his arrival in America at age 15 in 1943 and throughout his life as a husband, father and ultimately, an actor. As Poitier begins to carve out a successful acting career during the '50s & '60s, he is mindful that his personal and public life must be reflective of the kind of legacy that the Poitier elders left behind. Therefore, he did not let the backlash he received from some in the black community during the '60's for making films that depicted "exemplary human beings" deter him. Instead of being angry and confrontational about the social injustices of the times, he chose to channel those emotions into something positive. That positive energy is what kept him seeking and demanding quality roles as a black actor.
Sidney Poitier is an excellent storyteller and this book as some say is, "anecdotally rich." Even though I enjoyed much of what he talks about, I felt that some of his writings rambled on, and at times were out of place with regards to the book's chapter. So continuity of content was definitely not a strong issue during the editing stages of this book. The fact that he refers to this as, "a spiritual autobiography" is a bit ambiguous too. Neither religion nor any other spiritual philosophies are apart of what he explains is the measure of his success as a man.
So when one thinks about the saying, "The true measure of a man is not what he accomplishes, or in the wealth he may acquires. It's found in the lives he touches," does Mr. Poitier's life measure up? Read his book and you'll know the answer!
Reviewed by Marlive
5.0 out of 5 stars POITIER SURPASSES THE MEASURE OF A MAN...BY MILES!,
I first became interested in Sydney Poitier when he starred in one of my all time favourite movies, "To Sir with Love." After that, I avidly followed his career, but as the years passed, less and less was written about him. I was elated when this book appeared and was not disappointed upon it's conclusion. Everything about this book only confirmed what a beautiful and spiritually enlightened person Mr. Poitier truly is.
In spite of his lucrative movie career and fame, Mr. Poitier has clearly never lost sight of where he came from or what is important in life. He did not abandon his personal values, beliefs and integrity in search of fame and fortune. His love for humanity and family, and the happiness, peace and contentment he has found within himself, is evident on almost each and every page of his extremely well-written book. He is the ultimate example of refinement, culture and class. Mr. Poitier is the type of man one would love to sit down with under a shady tree, over a cup of tea, and share his joys, tribulations and deep spiritual philosophies on life. He is an astoundingly charismatic gentleman as one will discover through his autobiography.
If you only read one autobiography in a lifetime, let it be this one - the reader will definitely not be disappointed. If simplicity, faith, integrity, humbleness and inner peace are the "measure of a man", then Mr. Poitier's shoes would be very difficult to fill. The book is deserving of an entire universe of stars.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Valuable Discourse,
I, being a good little white boy, knew little about Sidney, but felt respect for him as an actor due, in part, to my discovery of "The Defiant Ones" as a child. (The movie is a powerful work about racism, and I loved it.)
This spiritual autobiography is not a judgmental, squeaky-clean depiction of walking with God, nor is it an in-depth detour into the tribal religions that were available to Sidney as a child in the Bahamas...This book is a open-hearted view of the circumstances and, more importantly, the values that guided Sidney Poitier to the pinnacle of acting. He candidly discusses his failures as husband and father; he speaks lovingly of the example his parents gave him, and; he shows the power of holding to your integrity no matter what the cost.
By holding to this integrity, Sidney lost some opportunities and also gained respect from the white community, while facing ridicule as a "sell-out" from his own community. What stands out in his story, though, is his desire to bring these communities together with respect, refusing to be dragged down by the bigotries and angers of either side. He speaks powerfully of the value of focusing anger in a positive way.
Mr. Poitier writes in an eloquent, yet communicative style. At times, it borders on unfocused rambling, but even then it has good things to say. I recommend this book as a discourse on never giving up on your goals and reaching beyond yourself to be who you were truly created to be. Thanks, Sidney, for your time.
5.0 out of 5 stars He won me over...,
Let's see, I started out asking, am I a Sidney Poiter fan or not? I'm not sure. Some of his work has always left me a little on edge, unfomfortable...is this the strong, independent image of a black man that I've wanted to see on the screen and at the podiums at all of those awards banquets where I've watched Sidney all these years? Was his smile and demeanor just a little too reminiscent of the old day's actors' smiles...the ones they had to put on or face obscurity? "We build da chappel...I build da chappel".
Well, I had to respect his many great and worthy accomplishments, his ability to survive the slings and arrows all blacks suffer who put themselves on the line..and that dignity of his. What is the source of this dignity and courage? Why and how does he generate such respect from every single person of every single race, power stratum, whom his life has ever touched? I thought I'd discover this phenomenon for myself, so I read this autobiography. I was surprised, right away, that this really is more than an autobiography, it is an inside look at a spiritual quest, a confirmation of one man's life. Why are we here? Is impending oblivion important to our faith? Must we make a personal "sense" out of a senseless universe? Is God benevolent, or does he revel in the clash of competing opposites? Does talent, like spirit, defy extermination even through death? Are we the sum total of our ancestors? And what is the role of quality in our lives, and is there any other purpose for us?
Sidney answers none of these questions for you and tells you defiantly, in your face, that he is not going to and can not. He calls life like he sees it with no condescension whatsoever. He tells you and makes you know he is as flawed as you are. His painful rememberences about his daughters and the small amount of time he was allowed with them and yet how he was there for every second the law allowed will touch you and remind you about responsibility.
A great and inspiring read. Yes, I'm a fan of Sidney's, because I know myself better now and he is me.
4.0 out of 5 stars Poitier's life, recounted with charm,
Sidney Poitier's autobiographical memoir is written with considerable charm and grace. There are a few mild epithets besprent throughout his prose, as if to remind us that Mr Poitier is not the Archbishop of Westminster. But he can tell a story, paint a scene with painterly skill, and fascinate his readers by speaking to them plainly, conversationally, frequently asking "you know?" or "you follow?" after he describes an event or puts forth a proposition about the human condition.
We learn of Poitier's childhood in the Bahamas, the first ten years spent in the almost Edenic climate of Cat Island; we learn about his struggles in late adolescence, coming to the USA, encountering situations where the goodwill of others was not always conspicuous; we learn of his early career as an actor in New York City; we learn of harsh winters endured, of hard work that paid off.
Poitier wishes ardently to convey the value of being true to one's convictions in the face of arduous and hostile circumstances; the dominant note of "Measure" is one of thanksgiving (to his parents and friends, especially), not of complaint. Of course, there are moments when a justifiable anger surfaces; over his treatment in an Atlanta restaurant in 1955, to cite one example.
There are behind-the-scenes glances at many of his major films, not as in-depth as many readers might prefer, perhaps; but there is memorable advice given to Poitier by the actor/director John Cassavetes, and there is also the story of cast conflict in the theatrical production of "A Raisin in the Sun." We get glimpses of the revered cinematic duo Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn -- and Poitier's comments here are illuminating and sharp. Unless we misread him, it was the ultraprogressive Hepburn who treated him with a certain hauteur, and the politically noncommittal Spencer Tracy who was more the regular guy.
Speaking of ultraprogressivism, there are paragraphs in Poitier's book which praise Paul Robeson as being "a stand-up guy on the issue of race," but Poitier would have his reader believe that the overtly pro-Soviet Robeson came under the scrutiny of the US government solely because of his advocacy of civil rights for African-Americans. It should neither surprise nor appal Poitier's readers that Robeson, the recipient of the 1952 Stalin Peace Prize, was regarded with suspicion by the Cold War American government. But here again, we see Poitier's loyalty to his friends.
As for the subtitle of the memoir, hinting at an exploration of Mr Poitier's spirituality, it's very subtle: there was the casual Anglo-Catholicism of his childhood in the Bahamas, and the common belief on his island of "unseen forces" governing human affairs, forces not definable by theologians. If Poitier's own spirituality can be defined, it consists of a vigorous belief in the work ethic as exemplified by his tireless parents; a belief in liberality on the personal level (and, alas, leftism on the political level); a laudably fierce assertiveness when it comes to self-defense and defense of one's family; and a dogmatic fluidity that admits: the more we know, the less we know.
There are political prescriptions in the seventh chapter which will resonate better with some readers than with others (he seems to favor affirmative action remaining in place until his grandchildren's grandchildren are in their eighties), but even persons whose political views do not coincide with Sidney Poitier's should be able to find in "The Measure of a Man" ample evidence of grace, of good cheer, of bravery, and many other admirable qualities.
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr. Poitier's Life... or YOURS?,
This is not the typical "memoir" that many readers in this "tell all" age now expect. Yes, Mr. Poitier holds back and deliberately keeps many details of his personal experience out of the picture here. What he does, is to selectively draw upon those aspects of his life that somehow manage to inform and enlighten on the transcendent meaning of life that we ALL struggle for, that we ALL must be responsible for creating. You cannot read his words without bringing them to bear on your own life in some profound way (that goes for women readers too). It is in this sense, that the autobiography is deemed "spiritual." (Don't expect "saved by Jesus," "visited by angels", or other such accounts here -- the spirituality grows from confronting life's challenges on many fronts).
Poitier begins his book by describing an experience so symbolic of our meaning-starved times: surfing through TV channels with a remote: "This vast sophisticted technology and... nothing. It's given me not one smidgen of pleasure. It's informed me of nothing beyond my own ignorance and own frailties (p. 1)" He then goes on to describe how, in order to become the man that he is today, he had to go out and find his personal meaning, find a craft that he could commit to, channel rage into forgiveness, and know what it means to "take his measure." His language is deceptively simple. Seemingly blunt assertions are, upon reflection, just oozing with profundity. Just "listen" to him wind down at book's end: "Human life is a highly imperfect system, filled with subordinate imperfections all the way down. The only thing we know for sure is that in another eight billion years it will all be over. Our sun will have spent itself; and the day it expires, you'll hear the crunch all over the solar system, because then everything will turn to absolute zero... But you can't live focused on that. You can't hang on that... (p.242)." So what does the reader hang on to here? The creation of a life that matters... helped along by one who really did succeed in this quest. Sidney Poitier is putting elements of his life onto the table so that you and I can learn from them, see how one indiviudal life can say a lot about the bigger LIFE.
Finally, I must say that the writing style has a real flow to it, and it moves along with a rythm that is punctuated by the "pop! pop! pop!" of one searing insight after another. I teach college sociology, and am going to use this book as required reading. I wish it were required in all high schools. So many students today are searching for meaning, but finding that our culture lets them down with false promises of consumerism and diversion. This book will, I'm sure, help point many of them in the right direction. But, of course, it's a book for everyone. Very inspiring, the kind of book you'll want to turn back to -- especially when the sailing gets rough.
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed in Poitiers writing,
I love all of Sydney Poitier's movies and adore the man but was somewhat disappointed with the book. Yes, he led an interesting life and I enjoyed reading about the making of the movies but saw no need for him to use foul language. I always thought of Mr. Poitier as very eloquent, not so in this book. He speaks in the book as if he were talking to a friend at the bar. I remember seeing him on t.v. in the 60's during an outside interview where he was sitting at a long table and there were many reporters asking questions at once. They mostly asked questions about the civil rights movements instead of what they were there for and Mr. Poitier finally got angry and said to them something to the effect of "I am not ONLY a black man, I am an intelligent man, I am an educated man, I am a family man, a friend, father etc.....so please stop talking to me as if the only opinions I could possibly hold are on the subject of race relations. If you are not going to ask me questions on the subject we are here to speak about, then I shall leave" It was the most eloquent speech I ever heard and what I expected when I read the book, so in that sense I was disappointed. He seemed to me in the book to be not as self-assured as he comes off in his movies and public appearances such as on Oprah. I also would have liked to hear more about his first marriage and why exactly he couldn't stick with it beside the fact that he fell in love with his second wife. I still adore the man though.
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The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography (Oprah's Book Club) by Sidney Poitier (Paperback - Jan. 15 2007)
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