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My Song: A Memoir by Harry Belafonte

My Song: A Memoir

by Harry Belafonte

Other authors: Michael Shnayerson

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Never let it be said that Harry Belafonte is a modest man! Certainly this memoir is interesting, but to me, only because of the time period in which he has lived and his participation in the Civil Rights movement. I have always loved Mr. Belafonte's music and have seen him perform in concert. He is an amazing performer and entertainer! However, to hear his version of history he is the unsung hero, the mover and shaker, behind the most powerful figures in the Civil Rights movement. I have no doubt that he was deeply involved and committed, but the egocentrism with which he tells his tale is incredibly off putting. Lord knows what would have happened if he hadn't been there to influence Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy! Love the music, but not impressed with the man. Diappointed! ( )
1 vote hemlokgang | Mar 6, 2014 |
This is a review with plenty of substance not like a lot of celebrity autobiographies. It is also a very honest appraisal of not only Mr. Belafonte himself but also his wives, children, and friends and associates in the entertainment industry and the Civil Rights movement. You will learn much about all.. The book is easy to read and will impress you with the vast array of Mr. Belafonte's life experiences. The only people who might struggle with the book are those who deal with his left wing politics which he makes no bones about. ( )
  muddyboy | Oct 14, 2012 |
A mediocre and rather self-centered memoir/autobiography, but then when you write about yourself that's often the way a book reads to others. Part settling scores and a lot of name-dropping, the books gets tedious after the first several chapters. ( )
1 vote Jcambridge | Feb 26, 2012 |
Showing 3 of 3
Scenes of extravagant waste, scenes of righteous anger — rich contradictions abound — with little attempt to explain them away, a mark of the honest autobiographer.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Harry Belafonteprimary authorall editionscalculated
Shnayerson, Michaelsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307272265, Hardcover)

Harry Belafonte is not just one of the greatest entertainers of our time; he has led one of the great American lives of the last century. Now, this extraordinary icon tells us the story of that life, giving us its full breadth, letting us share in the struggles, the tragedies, and, most of all, the inspiring triumphs.
Belafonte grew up, poverty-ridden, in Harlem and Jamaica. His mother was a complex woman—caring but withdrawn, eternally angry and rarely satisfied. His father was distant and physically abusive. It was not an easy life, but it instilled in young Harry the hard-nosed toughness of the city and the resilient spirit of the Caribbean lifestyle. It also gave him the drive to make good and channel his anger into actions that were positive and life-affirming. His journey led to the U.S. Navy during World War II, where he encountered an onslaught of racism but also fell in love with the woman he eventually married. After the war he moved back to Harlem, where he drifted between odd jobs until he saw his first stage play—and found the life he wanted to lead. Theater opened up a whole new world, one that was artistic and political and made him realize that not only did he have a need to express himself, he had a lot to express.
He began as an actor—and has always thought of himself as such—but was quickly spotted in a musical, began a tentative nightclub career, and soon was on a meteoric rise to become one of the world’s most popular singers. Belafonte was never content to simply be an entertainer, however. Even at enormous personal cost, he could not shy away from activism. At first it was a question of personal dignity: breaking down racial barriers that had never been broken before, achieving an enduring popularity with both white and black audiences. Then his activism broadened to a lifelong, passionate involvement at the heart of the civil rights movement and countless other political and social causes. The sections on the rise of the civil rights movement are perhaps the most moving in the book: his close friendship with Martin Luther King, Jr.; his role as a conduit between Dr. King and the Kennedys; his up-close involvement with the demonstrations and awareness of the hatred and potential violence around him; his devastation at Dr. King’s death and his continuing fight for what he believes is right.
But My Song is far more than the history of a movement. It is a very personal look at the people in that movement and the world in which Belafonte has long moved. He has befriended many beloved and important figures in both entertainment and politics—Paul Robeson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Sidney Poitier, John F. Kennedy, Marlon Brando, Robert Kennedy, Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro, Tony Bennett, Bill Clinton—and writes about them with the same exceptional candor with which he reveals himself on every page. This is a book that pulls no punches, and turns both a loving and critical eye on our country’s cultural past.
As both an artist and an activist, Belafonte has touched countless lives. With My Song, he has found yet another way to entertain and inspire us. It is an electrifying memoir from a remarkable man.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:01 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The popular singer and former UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador shares the story of his life and career, from his impoverished childhood in Harlem and Jamaica and his racial barrier-breaking career to his commitment to numerous civil causes.

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