Category: Eugene Allen

Mixed Reviews for "The Butler" Book on Amazon

Mixed Reviews for The Butler Book on Amazon

There are 120 reader reviews for The Butler on Amazon as of right now. There are 37 5 star reviews, 10 4 star, 21 3 star, 19 2 star, and 33 1 star reviews. The main reason why I’m curious about the reviews is that I’ve been thinking about buying the book because I love things like this, and reading about topics that deal with civil rights and the entire movement.

However, two family members recently bought The Butler and both said the same thing at two different times. They were disappointed because it was so short, they were disappointed with the content and wanted to read more about Eugene Allen, and they both felt as if they had paid too much money to read a digital book that felt more like the advertisement for a film.

And from what I’ve read in the lower ratings a lot of Amazon readers seem to agree with the two people I know.

 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.

And this one is similar to the one above, and many others:

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.

On the other hand, there are matched 5 star reviews to the 1 star reviews. Some are long and politically charged, and I passed them over because I was more interested in reading about the book, not someone’s personal political opinions. But not all of them are political. This 5 star review is excellent as far as reviews go. Frankly, I think it’s better than the book’s product description.

Contrary to some readers’ expectations, this is not a novelization of the film. It’s the author’s firsthand account of finding and befriending the real-life butler and his family, paired with an illuminating essay on black representation in Hollywood. Haygood’s words are chosen with economy and care. He distills emotion masterfully, never belaboring the story’s significance or reducing the butler himself to a symbol. He emerges, like the book itself, as courtly but containing multitudes. A short read that lingers long in the heart.

Now, take into consideration I know nothing about the book and I depend on the book product description to know what it’s about.


From Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities fellow Wil Haygood comes a mesmerizing inquiry into the life of Eugene Allen, the butler who ignited a nation’s imagination and inspired a major motion picture: Lee Daniels’ The Butler, the highly anticipated film that stars six Oscar winners, including Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey (honorary and nominee), Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding Jr., Vanessa Redgrave, and Robin Williams; as well as Oscar nominee Terrence Howard, Mariah Carey, John Cusack, Lenny Kravitz, James Marsden, David Oyelowo, Alex Pettyfer, Alan Rickman, and Liev Schreiber. With a foreword by the Academy Award nominated director Lee Daniels, The Butler not only explores Allen’s life and service to eight American Presidents, from Truman to Reagan, but also includes an essay, in the vein of James Baldwin’s jewel The Devil Finds Work, that explores the history of black images on celluloid and in Hollywood, and fifty-seven pictures of Eugene Allen, his family, the presidents he served, and the remarkable cast of the movie.

Now, this is where I find it interesting. That book description really sucks. They mention all the names of the film stars in the movie, which is not relevant to the book at all. Whoever the PR genius was who wrote it, should be fired.

And this is why I’m always talking about vetting books, especially the more expensive digital books released by large publishers, because you never know what you’re going to get unless to check around in more than a few places first. The two people I know who read this book felt cheated, and they will be watching out the next time a book like this comes along.

As of today, The Butler is number one in three different categories on Amazon in spite of the one star warnings. And even after all this, I’m still on the fence about whether or not I’ll buy the book and read it. And that’s because of this review in the Washington Post.

The book also describes how African Americans are woefully underrepresented in the motion picture industry. “Filmmakers are, after all, ultimate gamblers,” Haygood writes. “Throw race into the gamble, and the predictions get a lot trickier.” He notes that while many African American-themed films feature a white savior, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” (as it’s being called because of a copyright dispute) will break that mold.

From that description is sounds like something I’d enjoy, especially the part about how Hollywood is always screwing over all minorities. If I do read it, I’ll post my review here. As for those who say the book is too expensive, it’s listed for $5.50 in the Kindle version right now. I know people who spend more on one drink on a Saturday night and don’t even think twice about it.