The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography

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"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 the contrary, I began this book as an exploration, an exercise in selfquestioning. 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 values I myself have set."

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 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 selfworth that he has never surrendered and that have dramatically shaped his world. "In the kind of place where I grew up," recalls Poitier, "what's coming at you is the sound of the sea and the smell of the wind and momma's voice and the voice of your dad and the craziness of your brothers and sisters ... and that's it." 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, finally, is Poitier's own introspective look at what has informed his performances and his life. Poitier explores the nature of sacrifice and commitment, pride and humility, rage and forgiveness, and paying the price for artistic integrity, What emerges is a picture of a man seeking truth, passion, and balance 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.

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About the author

Sidney Poitier was the first black actor to win the Academy Award for best actor for his outstanding performance in Lilies of the Field in 1963. His landmark films include The Defiant Ones, A Patch of Blue, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, and To Sir, With Love. He has starred in over forty films, directed nine, and written four. He is the author of two autobiographies: This Life and the "Oprah's Book Club" pick and New York Times bestseller The Measure of a Man. Among many other accolades, Poitier has been awarded the Screen Actors Guild's highest honor, the Life Achievement Award, for an outstanding career and humanitarian accomplishment. He is married, has six daughters, four grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Harper Collins
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Published on
Oct 13, 2009
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9780061747489
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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A baby is born with a coin in her hand. An orphan crafts a mysterious wooden object. The CEO of a large corporation finds himself under extraordinary pressure at work and at home. And on a remote hilltop on a Caribbean island, a medicine man seems to understand the meaning of all these events and to hold the key to the future.
 
Montaro Caine, CEO of the Fitzer Corporation, is losing control of the company he built just as his teenage daughter is experiencing her own difficulties. At this moment of crisis, a man and woman appear at his office with a coin of unknown provenance, composed of a metal unknown on Earth. Montaro immediately recognizes it as the companion of a coin he analyzed as a graduate student working in a lab at MIT, which was later returned to its unidentified owner. The coin’s appearance draws the attention of scientists, collectors, financiers, and thieves, all of whom vie to get their hands on it, and Montaro himself hopes that the discovery of the coin will save his company. But the value of the coin lies not in its monetary worth but in its hold on the people who come into contact with it. These include the young woman who is not aware of the object that was found in her hand at birth; an old man who, as a boy, crafted a wooden compact as a gift for a young Montaro Caine; and the elusive healer Matthew Perch, who, from his hut on a small Caribbean island, knows precisely why these people have been brought together and what wisdom the coin imparts.
 
In his first novel, the beloved actor and director Sidney Poitier takes us on a wild and unexpected adventure—from New York to Europe to the Caribbean and beyond. The novel offers Poitier’s heartfelt message about the potential each of us has within ourselves, and about being open to the possibility that there are mysteries in the universe, and here on Earth, far greater than we can imagine. An enthralling journey into the magic of existence, Montaro Caine is a radiant debut from an American legend.

Praise for Montaro Caine
 
“Some might feel it’s quintessentially Poitier. Elegant, if a book can be elegant, with a bit of mystery and Caribbean flavor thrown in for good measure. Like his famed movie roles in Lilies of the Field and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, he once again offers up a moving performance.”—USA Today
 
“An intricate, electrifying journey. Academy Award winner Poitier creates multifaceted characters, with Montaro in particular exhibiting a rare realism; Montaro’s encounters with others are at once honest, intense, and mesmerizing. While the narrative has an urgency that will keep readers anticipating, it is also poetic. . . . Part mystery, part science fiction, this book excites like Agatha Christie’s Murder of Roger Ackroyd and will appeal especially to lovers of suspense.”—Library Journal

“[A] captivating blend of corporate intrigue and science fiction . . . a thought-provoking tale of caution and hope that is as elegant and riveting as the legendary actor and director himself.”—Booklist
 
“Surprisingly intricate . . . sure to please his many fans.”—Publishers Weekly

“Elegantly written and keenly observed . . . a Little Prince for grown-ups.”—Kirkus Reviews
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In this often violent but always introspective memoir, Mobb Deep’s Prodigy tells his much anticipated story of struggle, survival, and hope down the mean streets of New York City. For the first time, he gives an intimate look at his family background, his battles with drugs, his life of crime, his relentless suffering with sickle-cell anemia, and much more. Recently released after serving three and a half years in state prison due to what many consider an unlawful arrest by a rumored secret NYPD hip hop task force, Prodigy is ready to talk about his life as one of rap’s greatest legends.

My Infamous Life is an unblinking account of Prodigy’s wild times with Mobb Deep who, alongside rappers like Nas, The Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, Jay-Z, and Wu-Tang Clan, changed the musical landscape with their vivid portrayals of early ’90s street life. It is a firsthand chronicle of legendary rap feuds like the East Coast–West Coast rivalry; Prodigy’s beefs with Jay-Z, Nas, Snoop Dogg, Ja Rule, and Capone-N-Noreaga; and run-ins with prodigal hit makers and managers like Puff Daddy, Russell Simmons, Chris Lighty, Irv Gotti, and Lyor Cohen.

Taking the reader behind the smoke-and-mirrors glamour of the hip hop world, so often seen as the only way out for those with few options, Prodigy lays down the truth about the intoxicating power of money, the meaning of true friendship and loyalty, and the ultimately redemptive power of self. This is the heartbreaking journey of a child born in privilege, his youth spent among music royalty like Diana Ross and Dizzy Gillespie, educated in private schools, until a family tragedy changed everything. Raised in the mayhem of the Queensbridge projects, Prodigy rose to the dizzying heights of fame and eventually fell into the darkness of a prison cell.

A truly candid memoir, part fearless confessional and part ode to the concrete jungles of New York City, from the front line of the last great moment in hip hop history.
Sidney Poitier is one of the most revered actors in the history of Hollywood. He has overcome enormous obstacles in extraordinary times and is a role model for many Americans because of his convictions, bravery, and grace. Poitier reflects on his amazing life in Life Beyond Measure, offering inspirational advice and personal stories in the form of extended letters to his great-granddaughter. Writing for all who admire his example and who search for wisdom only a man of great experience can offer, this American icon shares his thoughts on love, faith, courage, and the future.

Poitier draws upon the perspective and wisdom gained from his memories as a poor boy in the Bahamas, his experience of racism coming to the United States, falling in love and raising a family, breaking the race barrier in theater and film during the Civil Rights Era, achieving stardom and success in Hollywood, and being a diplomat and humanitarian. He reflects on the deepest questions and the significant passages of his life, the virtues that helped him through tough times, and the sense of purpose and history that strengthened him. He emphasizes the importance of the role of faith in a technological age, as well as our responsibility to the earth and future generations. Throughout, Poitier shares stories about the people of courage he has met along the way and the meaning of life in the face of death.

Life Beyond Measure is the perfect book to inspire readers to live the fullest life with integrity, from one of our most respected celebrities and a national treasure.

A baby is born with a coin in her hand. An orphan crafts a mysterious wooden object. The CEO of a large corporation finds himself under extraordinary pressure at work and at home. And on a remote hilltop on a Caribbean island, a medicine man seems to understand the meaning of all these events and to hold the key to the future.
 
Montaro Caine, CEO of the Fitzer Corporation, is losing control of the company he built just as his teenage daughter is experiencing her own difficulties. At this moment of crisis, a man and woman appear at his office with a coin of unknown provenance, composed of a metal unknown on Earth. Montaro immediately recognizes it as the companion of a coin he analyzed as a graduate student working in a lab at MIT, which was later returned to its unidentified owner. The coin’s appearance draws the attention of scientists, collectors, financiers, and thieves, all of whom vie to get their hands on it, and Montaro himself hopes that the discovery of the coin will save his company. But the value of the coin lies not in its monetary worth but in its hold on the people who come into contact with it. These include the young woman who is not aware of the object that was found in her hand at birth; an old man who, as a boy, crafted a wooden compact as a gift for a young Montaro Caine; and the elusive healer Matthew Perch, who, from his hut on a small Caribbean island, knows precisely why these people have been brought together and what wisdom the coin imparts.
 
In his first novel, the beloved actor and director Sidney Poitier takes us on a wild and unexpected adventure—from New York to Europe to the Caribbean and beyond. The novel offers Poitier’s heartfelt message about the potential each of us has within ourselves, and about being open to the possibility that there are mysteries in the universe, and here on Earth, far greater than we can imagine. An enthralling journey into the magic of existence, Montaro Caine is a radiant debut from an American legend.

Praise for Montaro Caine
 
“Some might feel it’s quintessentially Poitier. Elegant, if a book can be elegant, with a bit of mystery and Caribbean flavor thrown in for good measure. Like his famed movie roles in Lilies of the Field and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, he once again offers up a moving performance.”—USA Today
 
“An intricate, electrifying journey. Academy Award winner Poitier creates multifaceted characters, with Montaro in particular exhibiting a rare realism; Montaro’s encounters with others are at once honest, intense, and mesmerizing. While the narrative has an urgency that will keep readers anticipating, it is also poetic. . . . Part mystery, part science fiction, this book excites like Agatha Christie’s Murder of Roger Ackroyd and will appeal especially to lovers of suspense.”—Library Journal

“[A] captivating blend of corporate intrigue and science fiction . . . a thought-provoking tale of caution and hope that is as elegant and riveting as the legendary actor and director himself.”—Booklist
 
“Surprisingly intricate . . . sure to please his many fans.”—Publishers Weekly

“Elegantly written and keenly observed . . . a Little Prince for grown-ups.”—Kirkus Reviews
Sidney Poitier is one of the most revered actors in the history of Hollywood. He has overcome enormous obstacles in extraordinary times and is a role model for many Americans because of his convictions, bravery, and grace. Poitier reflects on his amazing life in Life Beyond Measure, offering inspirational advice and personal stories in the form of extended letters to his great-granddaughter. Writing for all who admire his example and who search for wisdom only a man of great experience can offer, this American icon shares his thoughts on love, faith, courage, and the future.

Poitier draws upon the perspective and wisdom gained from his memories as a poor boy in the Bahamas, his experience of racism coming to the United States, falling in love and raising a family, breaking the race barrier in theater and film during the Civil Rights Era, achieving stardom and success in Hollywood, and being a diplomat and humanitarian. He reflects on the deepest questions and the significant passages of his life, the virtues that helped him through tough times, and the sense of purpose and history that strengthened him. He emphasizes the importance of the role of faith in a technological age, as well as our responsibility to the earth and future generations. Throughout, Poitier shares stories about the people of courage he has met along the way and the meaning of life in the face of death.

Life Beyond Measure is the perfect book to inspire readers to live the fullest life with integrity, from one of our most respected celebrities and a national treasure.

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