Sidney Poitier: Life Beyond Measure (Book Review)

Sidney Poitier book cover Sidney Poitier provides both a biography and a statement of his philosophies in this book addressed to his great granddaughter.  Born on the tiny Caribbean island of Cat, he eventually ended up in New York with virtually no education and no money.  Living as a dish washer, sleeping on roofs, his existence could have hardly been more different from that at the end of his years.

Poitier became an iconic Hollywood actor (e.g. In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner), becoming fluent in English and Russian.  He received numerous high awards such as several Oscars, was granted the Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE), and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among others. He also served as an Ambassador to Japan.  But none of these achievements are included in this book;  instead Poitier discusses his beliefs, values, mistakes and achievements as a man, an individual.

This book discusses the wonder of learning about scientific achievements such as electric lights and radio;  parental beliefs of right and wrong;  getting into trouble;  being very shy;  facing challenges of addictions and health; and considering the end of life.

Although Poitier might not describe it this way, this book reminds me of an ancient custom called an Ethical Will.  Originally an oral tradition documented in the Bible (Gen. 49), Ethical Wills are often used today to convey one’s behavioral requirements and philosophies to younger generations.  Although spiritual beliefs are included in this book, the majority of this book touches many other subjects such as honoring parents, and making hard choices.

A very interesting look at an honorable man with wisdom to share.  Recommended.

Click here to open Sidney Poitier: Life Beyond Measure Amazon Page


Sidney Poitier (Wikipedia)

Encyclopedia Judaica: Ethical Wills

Ethical Will (Wikipedia)

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Mark Bobb

Mark Bobb loves to travel and do photography in his free time.

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