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From the publication of her celebrated memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, to her reading of her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at Bill Clinton's first presidential inauguration, Maya Angelou (née Marguerite Johnson) has been an inspirational figure. In celebration of her 80th birthday (April 4, 2008), her friends Gillespie and Long, and her niece Butler, honor her life and accomplishments with a biographical tribute chock-full of photographs and snippets of Angelou's own writings. The authors trace her life from the self-imposed silence after her rape at eight through her voracious reading and the stream of words that began when she was 14 at the coaxing of an adult friend. After marrying Tosh Angelos, and bearing her son, Clyde, she ventured successfully into acting (when she changed her name to Maya Angelou) and activism alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, but always harbored the desire to write. As this book makes abundantly clear, Angelou's friends view her as a woman whose arms and home are always open and a loyal friend who respects others and loves good food and roaring laughter. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.