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The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  6,919 ratings  ·  824 reviews
"I have no wish to play the pontificating fool, pretending that I've suddenly come up with the answers to all life's questions. Quite that contrary, I began this book as an exploration, an exercise in self-questing. In other words, I wanted to find out, as I looked back at a long and complicated life, with many twists and turns, how well I've done at measuring up to the va ...more
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Published January 26th 2007 by HarperAudio (first published 2000)
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I went into this book with the highest of hopes and an open mind. My mother LOVES Potier and said she really enjoyed it and we tend to agree on most books. But part way through, I felt frustrated and a bit annoyed with him.

A recommendation on the jacket says that reading this book is like having a conversation with a vanerable older relative, and I agree. There are moments when his insights on life and sprirtual aspects are interesting, and I found myself wanting to remember quotes for future us
I had the good fortune to listen to Poitier speak a few years ago at a conference. He was a last minute stand-in for someone who probably was considered more "current." How lucky we were to have gotten to hear him speak instead. He moved a room of hundreds to tears, recalling "snapshots" of his life in the Bahamas, Miami and New York.

His talk inspired me to check out this audiobook, which was equally moving. Many of those "snapshots" can be heard in extended form in this book. Poitier's voice i
i am cheating and listening to the audiobook, not reading this. but trust me when i tell you, reading it is not the way to go. and this comes from someone who never does audiobooks. but the book is written like it's just what SP was saying in a conversation with a ghostwriter (who would've/should've then turned around and put it into a much easier to read format!). it's hard to follow and doesn't flow.

but the audiobook is great. SP's voice is so soothing and wonderful. such lilt and timbre. i lo
Kate Padilla
Sidney Poitier performs magic in The Measure of a Man. Only true nobility can write the personal history and experiences of a 70-something black man from the Bahamas with such power to speak profoundly to a 22-year old white girl from Grand Rapids. The same page will draw the reader to tears both from laughter and from sorrow. At 243 pages, Measure is not difficult, which makes reading from cover to cover relatively easy in one sitting.

What's most powerful about Poitier's "spiritual autobiograp
Julia Mukuddem
i've been wanting to read this book for many years. i saw an interview with sidney poitier on oprah once, and he made such an impression on me.

and wow - what a book - and what a man. from humble beginnings to hollywood - and he's still humble. one of those books that will leave you thinking ...

i absolutely love this quote:

“we're all somewhat courageous, and we're all considerably cowardly. we're all imperfect, and life is simply a perpetual, unending struggle against those imperfections.”
In summation, the wise old actor tells us: Life is hard and full of contradictions and you gotta have hope.

There. I've just saved you some time and possibly money.

I realize that saying anything bad about Sidney Poitier and what he might have to tell us in this book is probably tantamount to pissing on apple pie, so before I do that -- and assuming you do like your pie sans urine -- I want to say what's good about the book because there are quite a few things that are.

The book is a fast read, ple
Sidney Poitier is sooo smooth...I just love him...especially in the old movies he used to be in - "To Sir With Love," "A Piece of the Action," and "Uptown Saturday Night." He's one of my best actors - hands down, and it was great to hear his autobiography.
Sidney Poitier takes us back to a distant time and place: Cat Island in the Bahamas in the 1920s. It was the place of his early boyhood, the time of his formation, where he lived a simple rural life. He was the son of a tomato farmer, dirt-poor, yet rich in love. The tiny island gave him a universe to explore, of beaches and trees, paths and rocks, and seemingly endless days of sun and grace. His imagination was as fertile as the soil. It was a time of deep fulfillment, nurturance, and well-bein ...more
Michelle Margaret
Highly recommended. This is an honest, eloquent memoir. I want to watch more of his movies now, especially To Sir with Love and Lilies of the Field. My favorite quote is from Chapter 9, Stargazing: "I simply believe that there's a very organic, immeasurable consciousness of which we're a part. I believe that this consciousness is a force so powerful that I'm incapable of comprehending its power through the puny instrument of my human mind. And yet I believe that this consciousness is so unimagin ...more
This is not the first autobiography by Sidney Poitier, but it is a powerful one. It is a story of wholeness, of working to achieve the best within himself. The story begins on a small piece of isolated land, Cat Island, in the Bahamas, untouched by the outside world without even the most rudimentary of what most would call necessities, so untouched the locals don’t even know there are necessities, and they may be right. The true essential is family and that they do have.

In this autobiography, Si
Actor Sidney Poitier was very famous when I was a child. He stood out as he was one of the few famous talented black actors in the 1950s and 1960s, who had great respect by Hollywood and in general the white community. Sidney was born to a poor black family in Cat Island in the Bahamas. There was no electricity, no plumbing and no indoor toilets. However, since everyone in the neighborhood was black and poor, Sidney knew no difference. He had a strict, quiet, loving mother and father. Sidney fel ...more
I quite enjoyed The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography by Sidney Poitier. It was a rather reflective memoir about what makes Poitier tick. It reinforced much of what I had sensed about him as a person and also introduced me to his history and to new aspects of him I hadn’t expected.

I chose to read this particular autobiography before his other autobiography This Life because it has been written more recently when Poitier, like many is older and wiser. I also thought that a spiritual au
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 ...more
The stereotype of an actor would suggest a shallow person, but Poitier probes deeply into his life for meaning. He's very vulnerable at times and always humble about his character.
What I found most fascinating was his idea of the actor not as presenting something fake, but rather someone who takes a real part of him- or herself and then puts it out for others to see.
I enjoyed the stories of his struggles growing up, especially the sudden shock of racism he experienced moving from Cat Island to t
I'm on Chapter 2 but I have to say, I am very impressed with Sidney's writing. He has incredible insight on his life and what influenced him as a child. He has an amazing way with words. He talks about "emotional intelligence" "It is a capacity that's nutured by silence and by intimacy, and by the freedom to roam." I have read a lot of autobiographies lately and this one is unique in the fact that Poitier digs deep into the reason he became the man he became. Beginning with his childhood in the ...more
Feb 25, 2011 Meghan rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Meghan by: Sera
This is why I don't read memoirs. I would first like to preface this review by saying I am a huge Sidney Poitier fan. I believe he is not only a fine actor but also a fine man. He is, to me, the epitomy of integrity.

I had recently just finished reading The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, and one of the major complaints about that book is that Moore doesn't seem to understand why his life turned out the way it did and the "Other Wes" turned out differently, even though there seemed to be a
It’s with some sadness that I have to report that I can’t recommend this book. Sigh. It might be more interesting as an audiobook. I mean, hearing Sidney Poitier read a phone book for a few hours might be worth investing some time in.

It’s like they sat him down with a tape recorder and let him talk and never bothered to edit it. At all. Bits and pieces are interesting and it would have been great if an editor had pressed him to explore his thoughts in more depth. He touches on being put down by
"The unexamined life is not worth living." - Socrates
Sidney Poitier examines events, locations and eras that shaped him as a human and an actor. He wrote an earlier autobiography that detailed his career, but this autobiography is more of an exploration of some of the important events in his life that changed and shaped him. From his earliest days on Cat Island in the Bahamas, to Nassau, to Miami, to New York City, changes in his situation and the need for survival helped him to adapt to new sur
Sidney Poitier is my hero. He have proven time after time his revered acting skills, his strong convictions, bravery and grace. Sidney is an amazing man that I admire deeply. In this book, he draws attention upon the perspective and wisdom gained from his memories as a poor boy in the Bahamas, his experiences of racism coming to the US, falling in love and raising a family. He shares breaking the race barrier in theatre and film during the Civil Rights era, achieving stardom and success in Holly ...more
Dec 05, 2008 Sugarpop rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes autobiographies
I had wanted to read this book for quite awhile. I finally had the opportunity and it is a quick read. I was also quite ready to be finished with the book.

There were several sections that I found quite interesting because he lived through these events. I think that anyone who is interested in the Hollywood blacklist would get something from his experience.

I also liked what he thought of the characters that he played or had been offered. Raisin in the Sun is my favorite all time movie. I saw th
I listened to the audio book, for which Sidney Poitier won a Grammy award.

Some of the story telling was beautiful, especially in the first third of the book. It was personal, colorful, real, and very different from my experiences. That's where SP excelled.

I didn't like most of the book very much. When SP shares an anecdote, he is at his best. When he makes generalizations (about society, racism, who he is as a person, etc.), he gets long-winded.

His voice is amazing. I love hearing him speak. But
Not a traditional autobiography but I guess thats implied in the subtitle. So lots of details about his life are hinted at but not elaborated. He casually mentions being incarcerated once but quickly moves on leaving me figuratively open mouthed and wanting for details. So the book is short on autobiography but long on mystical, philosophical and spiritual ruminations. It turns out that he can pose some rather profound questions and observations which must be why it made Oprahs club. For those l ...more
Sara E.
This stunning and moving autobiography is a must read. As a long time fan, I was captivated by the story of Sidney Poitier's life. It covers his humble beginnings, his struggles when first in the U.S., his brief stint in the U.S. Army, his acting career, and how U.S. race relations played into all of these things. It also covers heavily on parenthood, taking lessons from his parents, how they shaped him, and how they shaped how he parented his children. This autobiography is mostly in chronologi ...more
Georgia Roybal
I have always been quite impressed with Sidney Poitier's body of work. Now I am also quite impressed with him as a person and his thoughts on life. This book really gives you an insight into him.

He discusses his experiences with race upon coming to the US from the Bahamas, where black is the norm not a minority. He has very insightful comments and a lot of inspiring thoughts on how he dealt with such issues at a time when people were not at all sensitive. He talks about how he maintained his di
I've always liked Sidney Poitier as an actor and admired him as a principled man. I'd also heard him interviewed on NPR and knew he was an intelligent and thoughtful person. When my friend gave me this book, I was eager to read and learn more about him.

One thing I can confidently say about his book: there was no ghostwriter. Sidney Poitier sat down with a recorder and spoke his story. This book feels as if it is his words just as they came out... his pauses, his expressions, his ideas. As I read
Chris Gammill
Enjoyed reading about his early life growing up, life as a struggling black actor in the 50's - 60's, and the perspective that a reflective life brings. HIs spiritual opining seemed more about making sense of his choices and the good and bad which befell him than sharing something new or deep about life and eternity. Since I'm a Christian, his conclusions didn't resonate with me; however, I felt privileged to share in the journey of the life he narrates.
I don’t listen to a lot of audiobooks and it’s very rare for me to think that a book is better listened to than read, but in this case, I’ll make an exception. The Measure of a Man is narrated by Sidney Poitier himself, and he has such a beautiful voice, that it really enhanced my experience of the book. It also worked really well as an audiobook because he is so conversational in tone – he peppers his narration with phrases like, “You follow?” or “You see?”

As for the content itself – wow! This
Frank Kendralla
Intriguing history of a great actor

First, his voice is amazing! The tell of his youth and the struggles to build him into the man he became is amazing. As others stated, it seemed he rambled on and on diminishing the value of the point. There were times when I kept checking how much was left of the book. Overall, the book is very good and I rated it 4 stars but if 3.5 were available that is my selection. I wanted to learn about a man who had tremendous impact on the culture and history of this n
This was an interesting recap of a long, full career and personal odyssey from a very simple life on an undeveloped Caribbean island to the ranks of superstardom. It's amazing how far Poitier came by pushing himself to take challenges and remaining self-motivated even in tough times.
I listened to this book... and Sidney reads it... beautiful! Hard,at points painful, and yet felt like an honest study of how he became the man he is as well as looking at some of the more philosophical questions regarding what makes us who we are... I enjoyed the read...
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Sidney Poitier is a Bahamian American actor, film director, author, and diplomat.
More about Sidney Poitier...
Life Beyond Measure: Letters to My Great-Granddaughter Montaro Caine: A Novel This Life Separate But Equal The Measure of a Man

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“A person doesn't have to change who he is to become better.” 46 likes
“I don't mean to be like some old guy from the olden days who says, "I walked thirty miles to school every morning, so you kids should too." That's a statement born of envy and resentment. What I'm saying is something quite different. What I'm saying is that by having very little, I had it good. Children need a sense of pulling their own weight, of contributing to the family in some way, and some sense of the family's interdependence. They take pride in knowing that they're contributing. They learn responsibility and discipline through meaningful work. The values developed within a family that operates on those principles then extend to the society at large. By not being quite so indulged and "protected" from reality by overflowing abundance, children see the bonds that connect them to others.” 43 likes
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