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 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 the Cuban missile crisis; 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 is finally forced to get 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 neighbors, friends, and family were contending with Jim Crow America.
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by Wil Haygood
by Wil S. Hylton
by Gerda Weissmann Klein
by Andrea Di Robilant
by H.W. Brands
by Elie Wiesel
by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
by Solomon Northup
by Major Mary Jennings Hegar
by Benjamin Franklin
"This book offers backstory and a Òmaking-ofÓ look at the movie THE BUTLER. But for all its star power, the tag-team approach to the narration doesnÕt work. David Oyelowo delivers the opening section, about the life of Eugene Allen, the butler on whom this story is based. OyelowoÕs voice has the quiet grace and conviction of the man himself, as well as a slight accent and a soft tone. He uses his normal voice for journalist Wil Haygood. Oprah Winfrey reads a history of blacks and the cinema, but she hands off the reading when the material switches to the first person. Forest Whitaker picks up those parts. At that point, it seems odd to switch narrators. The story itself is compelling enough that the producers should have let Oyelowo read the entire work. R.C.G. © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine"
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