The Butler

The Butler

A Witness to History

Book - 2013
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When acclaimed Washington Postwriter 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 widespread, 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 no fewer than eight presidents, from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan. During his thirty-four years of service, Allen became what the Independent described as a "discreet stagehand who for three decades helped keep the show running in the most important political theatre of all."

While serving tea and supervising buffets, Allen was also a witness to history as decisions about America's most momentous events were being made. Here he is at the White House while Kennedy contemplates a moon landing; here he is again when Kennedy's widow returns from that fateful day in Dallas. Here he is when Johnson and his cabinet debate Vietnam and here he is again when Ronald Reagan finally got tough on apartheid. Perhaps hitting closest to home was the Civil Rights legislation that was developed, often with passions flaring, right in front of his eyes even as his own community of neighbours, friends and family were contending with Jim Crow America.

Also included in the book is an essay in the vein of James Baldwin's jewel, The Devil Finds Work,that explores the history of black people in Hollywood as well as over 45 pictures of the butler, Eugene Allen, and his family, the Presidents he served, and the remarkable cast.
Publisher: New York ; Toronto : 37 Ink/Atria, 2013.
Edition: 1st 37 InkAtria Books hardcover ed. --
ISBN: 9781476752990
Branch Call Number: 973.92092 Allen-H
Characteristics: xii, 96 p. : ill. (some col.)


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Aug 28, 2017

I loved Eugene Allen's story. It is worth taking this out for that. It only comprises about half the book though. The other half was, to me, the self-serving story of how this man's story was produced into a Hollywood spectacle. I haven't seen the film and don't want to; I am not interested in what Oprah Winfrey or anyone else thinks of the movie-making process. I would have loved to learn more about Mr. Allen.

Jul 22, 2014

The movie that was made based on this book related the story well. I actually seen the movie first but wanted to read the book to see if the movie told the story correctly.

bookfanatic1979 Jun 19, 2014

If you’re looking for a traditional birth-to-present biography of Eugene Allen, you’re going to want to keep looking. Ditto if you were hoping for an in-depth “behind the scenes” glimpse of what life in the White House was like during different presidencies. This seems to a compilation of various “fly on the wall” moments of varying aspects of Allen’s life, presidencies, the making of the movie, and cinematographic history.

Apr 23, 2014

history of civil rights in usa through the eyes of one family, including the u.s. presidents. oprah is so good , i forgot she was oprah. based on a true story, some tearful moments.

Dec 23, 2013

Very interesting story and lots of great pictures. Can't wait to see the movie.

Sep 26, 2013

How True Is The Butler?


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Sep 23, 2013

Other: Release date August 16, 2013 (USA)

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