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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

3.2 (185 )
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3.5 (158 )
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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
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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
  •  
    Carol SPRINGFIELD, PA, United States 03-11-14
    Carol SPRINGFIELD, PA, United States 03-11-14 Member Since 2013
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    2
    2
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    "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 Member Since 2013
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    11
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    "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
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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 2011

    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
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    "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 2004

    I love a good book...

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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 Pacific Northwest, USA 10-31-13
    K. Yorston Pacific Northwest, USA 10-31-13 Member Since 2010
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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
  •  
    Lynn Orting, WA, United States 10-08-13
    Lynn Orting, WA, United States 10-08-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Story!"
    What did you like best about The Butler? What did you like least?

    I was pleasantly surprised that this is written from the perspective of the writer of the newspaper article about the Butler. So it is very different from the move. I really liked that. I didn't like the "history" of African Americans" at the end of the book. It seemed like it was just filler and unnecessary to the story. I would have preferred more history about butlers.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Eugene Allen is definitely the best character.


    Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favorite?

    Eugene Allen, the Butler.


    What else would you have wanted to know about Wil Haygood’s life?

    I would have rather learned more about Will, than had a history lesson on African Americans in film, what did that have to do with a Butler in the White House?


    Any additional comments?

    The core story is GREAT. I also loved learning that the writer of the newspaper article kept in touch with his subject and really cared about him. It was heartwarming to learn that they developed such a close bond.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judy Tempe, AZ, United States 09-24-13
    Judy Tempe, AZ, United States 09-24-13 Member Since 2010

    OLD enough to remember listening to radio shows in the bedroom and in Dad's car. Poised on the edge of the bed with my older brother eagerly awaiting the amazing stories on the radio or sitting quietly in the back seat of the car listening to dad figure out the Minute Mysteries on the radio. I remember all to well the sounds on the air ways.

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    "Nothing like the movie"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Not really. I tell them to see the movie.


    What could Wil Haygood have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    detals historical details explain his life as it should have been told


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Definately see the movie, a picture of history


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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