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on August 5, 2013
I bought this book because I wanted to read the full story of the butler's life and time in the White House. Instead, it was an article about the writer meeting the butler and his wife. It took me less than an hour to read the entire part about the butler. Halfway through the book the butler dies and the book becomes a book about blacks in film. Not what I paid for or wanted.
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on August 5, 2013
I was expecting some interesting facts and a great storyline... But what I got was information about the movie. Waste of money... Quite disappointed!
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on August 6, 2013
A complete waste of money. Nothing more than a promo news release for the movie. This is the worst excuse for a book I've ever read. Read the movie reviews, you'll get more out if it for nothing.
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on August 9, 2013
It's worth taking a few moments to look at the structure of this slim book about Eugene Allen, a worker in the White House from 1952 to 1986, who served under eight presidents.
After a two page foreword by Lee Daniels, director of the coming movie also titled "The Butler," we read how author Wil Haygood meets Eugene Allen and his wife, Helene, how he learns of Allen's early life and being hired to work in the White House, and his viewing of Allen's memorabilia in a basement room. Haygood's interviews with Allen reveal some interesting moments during his thirty-four years of service but nothing that we would call salacious gossip. Discretion was and is the key to loyal and successful service in such hallowed halls. All of this is covered in the first forty-four pages including a short aside by Haygood on his own life as a writer.
The next thirty-four pages deal with the filming of the movie in New Orleans and a discussion of how black people have been portrayed in movies. Haygood gives us background information on how difficult it was to get the movie produced and comments about actors such as Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey and Cuba Gooding, Jr., all of whom are in the movie.
The final section of the book is brief and gives two pages each about five different presidents from Eisenhower to Reagan, chief executives whom Eugene Allen was privileged to know and serve.
In summary, this book seems more of an inflated promotion pamphlet for the movie rather than a suitable coverage of Eugene Allen's life and White House career. We see pictures of the five presidents mentioned but there isn't a picture of Eugene Allen anywhere in the book; that's a serious discrepancy in my view.
If this subject interests you, I suggest seeing the movie and hope it tells a better story about Eugene and Helen Allen than this book does.
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on August 3, 2013
Very disappointing waste of money. I hoped to read the book before seeing the movie. The book was essentially how the movie was made and not the story itself.
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on August 4, 2013
This should be a Kindle single. It is sort of a forward to what could be a very interesting book. Save your money.
0Comment54 of 56 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on August 4, 2013
Like another reviewer I was hoping to read the book before the movie...this is a lame very short few pages about the butler..rest about all the stupid celebrities in movie...waste of $$.
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on July 30, 2013
There's no doubt Wil Haygood is an experienced journalist and writer who can craft a fine story. He certainly does so in telling the story of Eugene Allen, the exceptional man who served as a White House butler for thirty-four years under eight presidents. In the first section of the book (Allen's story), I was cheering on both Allen and Haygood. The final section of photos showing Allen with family members and dignitaries adds to the appeal of the book. Reading about the years of work to get "The Butler" filmed got me pumped to see movie when it's released in a few weeks.

There were a couple of things about the book that I didn't care for so much. First, it seemed like a long PR roll-out for the movie. Second, it's a good review of the history, roles and successes of African-Americans in the last sixty or so years, but the sections seemed cobbled together to make this 112-page book. The first part is Allen's story. The second part is the movie's story. The third has one-and-a-half-page summaries of the five presidents Allen's fictional version serves in the movie. I can only guess that this part is meant as a primer for movie-goers to read beforehand.

Overall, "The Butler: A Witness to History," is an educational and inspirational read on a subject that we Americans--regardless of color--frequently don't handle well.
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on August 6, 2013
This is not a book. It is an advertisement for a movie. It is very short and offers no information . I am very disappointed.This is the worst purchase of a book in my lifetime. I am sure the subject of this alleged book was a very nice man. I am sure he must be disappointed as well. This is note worth a dollar!! I truly can't believe that the Publisher is permitted to call it a book. You could probably google the subjects name and get more info in a half page article about him. Please I'm telling you ...don't spend your money!!!! Such a ripoff!!!!
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on August 13, 2013
No White House butler ever told his story before Wil Haygood wrote about Eugene Allen in the Washington Post on November 7, 2008. The much-anticipated movie isn't based on a book, it was inspired by this article (still available free online). Eugene Allen was 89 when this story was reprinted around the world. He gave us a generous glimpse into what it was like to have a front-row seat to civil rights history. This is an important book for anyone who wants to understand what it takes for a reporter to doggedly pursue a story that illuminates our collective history, the courage it takes to tell that story, and how Hollywood translates the story in a way that makes history come alive, especially for young people who only see a few paragraphs in history books. Yes, I wish Eugene Allen had been young enough (and perhaps brave enough to break the White House code) to give us the juicy details on 8 presidents. But he never would have done that. Instead we have this wonderful book as a companion to the movie that educates us on Mr Allen's perspective and on the challenges of making a film on the civil rights experience. The many photos in the book of Mr Allen in the White House juxtaposed with photos from the movie are illustrative. This small book delivers huge dividends in helping us appreciate both the story and the story teller. If you want to understand civil rights in this era, old-fashioned journalism, or the challenges of Hollywood bringing decades of history in a compelling way, this book is a great investment.
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