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The Butler: A Witness to History | [Wil Haygood]

The Butler: A Witness to History

When acclaimed Washington Post writer Wil Haygood had an early hunch that Obama would win the 2008 election, he thought he'd highlight the singular moment by exploring the life of someone who had come of age when segregation was so embedded in the culture as to make the very thought of a black president inconceivable. He struck gold when he tracked down Eugene Allen, a butler who had served eight presidents, from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan. Forest Whitaker narrates the story of this remarkable man who, while serving tea and supervising buffets, was also a witness to history.
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Publisher's Summary

The story that inspired the major motion picture...read by its stars David Oyelowo, Forest Whitaker, and Oprah Winfrey

When acclaimed Washington Post writer Wil Haygood had an early hunch that Obama would win the 2008 election, he thought he'd highlight the singular moment by exploring the life of someone who had come of age when segregation was so embedded in the culture as to make the very thought of a black president inconceivable. He struck gold when he tracked down Eugene Allen, a butler who had served eight presidents, from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan.

Forest Whitaker narrates the story of this remarkable man who, while serving tea and supervising buffets, was also a witness to history as decisions about America's most momentous events were being made.

With a foreword by the Academy Award-nominated director Lee Daniels, The Butler also includes Wil Haygood's essay exploring the history of black images on celluloid and in Hollywood, read here by David Oyelowo and Oprah Winfrey.

©2013 Wil Haygood (P)2013 Simon & Schuster

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.3 (227 )
5 star
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3.3 (194 )
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Story
3.6 (192 )
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Carolyn Friendsville, PA, United States 08-08-13
    Carolyn Friendsville, PA, United States 08-08-13 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    187
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    "The History of Civil Rights"
    Any additional comments?

    Mr. Allen was as discreet in this book as he was in life. Very little was shared about the Presidents he served. The various presidents' relationship to the civil rights struggle were revealed by the author Wil Haygood. Mr. Haygood also wrote about the relationship the motion picture industry had/has to black actors and the behind the scenes people of color.
    It is a well written book. I enjoyed listening. Do not buy the book if you are looking for a story of the Butler. Other than knowing Mr. Allen was a gentleman and had a deep and abiding loyalty to and pride in his race he remains a mystery to me.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Brunswick, GA, United States 08-08-13
    Kathy Brunswick, GA, United States 08-08-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    20
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    "Don't buy it !"
    What would have made The Butler better?

    I was really looking forward to getting an insight into the daily life at the White House. I would have liked it better if they had focused on behind scenes events of one president.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    I loved Listening to Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin. I look forward to hearing another book by him.


    What three words best describe the narrators’s voice?

    pleasant, easy to understand.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Butler?

    The best scene in the book was when the writer was allowed to visit the basement in the butler's home.


    Any additional comments?

    Don't waste your money on this one.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    BossAlways 01-27-15
    BossAlways 01-27-15

    BossAlways

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Movie documentary, not a novel"

    Boring, had so much promise. seeking a refund. Very disappointed, took the time to review.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol Tarquinio SPRINGFIELD, PA, United States 03-11-14
    Carol Tarquinio SPRINGFIELD, PA, United States 03-11-14 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Don't waste your time or credit"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    It's not really the story of the Butler's life at the White House. I wouldn't even consider it a book.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kim FRONT ROYAL, VA, United States 02-07-14
    Kim FRONT ROYAL, VA, United States 02-07-14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    11
    11
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    Story
    "Was not what I expected."
    What would have made The Butler better?

    I thought this was going to be the book version of the movie.


    Has The Butler turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No


    Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    What character would you cut from The Butler?

    None


    Any additional comments?

    I guess maybe Ishould have read the info in this book better because I thought it was the book version of the movie.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles Fairfield, CA, United States 01-29-14
    Charles Fairfield, CA, United States 01-29-14 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
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    "ugh!"

    While I was very excited to listen to this book, words can not begin to tell you how bad it was. I wanted to hear about Cecil Gaines, not the reporter. The story held so much promise, yet it failed. The narration was not well done, what I listened to. He just sort of droned on and on.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melody Longmont, CO, United States 01-01-14
    Melody Longmont, CO, United States 01-01-14 Member Since 2015

    Have a renewed interest in books after falling in love with audio books. I am listening to all different genres and exploring different authors.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Supplement only"

    I can only advise this as a supplement to the movie. It was informative but it is NOT the story of the butler's life. It is a story about the movie. Did I get this for free? I hope so -- I would not waste a credit on this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Greg Key West, FL, United States 12-16-13
    Greg Key West, FL, United States 12-16-13 Member Since 2008
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
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    Story
    "NOT the book"
    Would you try another book from Wil Haygood and/or the narrators?

    Yup the reviews are correct - this is just an essay about Civil Rights - OK for what it is - but if you use the Movie Poster as the cover, then have the content be that story....


    Has The Butler turned you off from other books in this genre?

    YUP


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    I just quit listening.....


    Any additional comments?

    Don't buy this until you read all the reviews....

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William KNIGHTDALE, NC, United States 12-05-13
    William KNIGHTDALE, NC, United States 12-05-13 Member Since 2011

    I love a good book...

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Commercial"

    I was expecting more of the story similar to the movie. What I got instead was a commercial like a "Making of...". It was interesting to listen to how the movie came together, how much of a struggle it was to get financed but it was really more of a commercial to entice me to go watch the movie. I should not have had to pay $8 in order to be cajoled into going to a movie. Skip the audio book, go see the movie.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Yorston 10-31-13
    K. Yorston 10-31-13 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "This is not a book but an advertisement"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    It seemed this book was really just an advertisement for the movie. It was not enjoyable. Felt cheated by wasting a credit.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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