Sidney Poitier has starred in more that 40 films, directed nine and written four. His landmark films include A PATCH OF BLUE, LILIES OF THE FIELD (for which he won an Oscar), GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER, IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT and TO SIR, WITH LOVE.
Readers seeking the usual ego-filled movie-star autobiography full of `I met these people' and `I won these awards', will be hugely disappointed with The Measure of a Man. Poitier wrote that story years ago. As the subtitle suggests, this memoir from the now 72-year-old star is more a journey in life philosophy. As he puts it: `I wanted to find out ... how well I've done at measuring up to the values I espouse, the standards I myself have set'. The result is impressive and thought-provoking. Poitier quickly glosses over the movies that made him a household name, using them - together with the story of his parents and his impoverished childhood in the Bahamas - as a context for his ideas on responsibility, success, race and parenting. Chapters dealing with his real-life role as an unintentional African-American icon during the entire civil rights period are particularly insightful. Whilst black students were rioting, Poitier was considered an `Uncle Tom' for playing roles like the young doctor in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? - unthreatening characters for white audiences, who fulfilled white liberal fantasies. This impressive and well-written rumination will no doubt satisfy all readers, movie fans or not, who have an interest in self-improvement, family, philosophy or civil rights. According to Poitier the `measure of a man' is the legacy he leaves his children. Poitier scores a 10. Scott Whitmont is the owner of Lindfield Bookshop. C. 2000 Thorpe-Bowker and contributors