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Books

Book Review

‘My Song’ by Harry Belafonte

A life rich in music, acting, activism

Somewhere amid the accounts of when he became the first artist to sell a million copies of an album, the first black leading actor to romance a white leading actress in a major Hollywood film, and the man who was asked to help pick out the clothes that Martin Luther King Jr. would be buried in, you realize just how extraordinary Harry Belafonte’s life has been.

If Belafonte had simply pursued one strand of that life — the immensely popular singer, the Tony Award-winning actor, the powerful political and social activist — it would have made fascinating material for a book. That he managed to cram all three into his 84 years makes “My Song,’’ his captivating memoir written with Michael Shnayerson, not only a sometimes exhausting chronicle of Belafonte’s own story but an intriguing look at US history from the late ’40s to the present.

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