by Erin K. | | 4 Comments | Tags:

Welcome to Week 2 of the Online Book Club!

If you’ve already started reading The Butler: A Witness to History, you might have noticed that this book is different from other books we’ve read as a club. For one thing, it is a continuation of an article first published in the Washington Post in 2008. You can read that article on the newspaper’s website.  Also, the book itself isn’t very long, and only one section is really about the life of Eugene Allen. The second half of the book is about the movie version of his life which hit screens back in 2013.

Regardless of the way the book is written or the length of the book, Eugene Allen’s story is really interesting and is worth investigating.

All of the anecdotes about Allen show him to be a generous, kind, and hardworking man. However, one story in particular really stuck with me. I think it shows just how neat he was. In the days after John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Allen organized a party for John, Jr. and Caroline. He helped plan a special meal and served them, just to make sure they could experience a little joy in a time of great sadness. I found that story to be incredibly moving.

I also thought it was really interesting that he turned down an opportunity to go to JFK’s funeral because he thought that someone should stay behind and be ready to serve everyone when they got out of the funeral. He was such an unselfish man!

I can’t imagine all of the other things that Allen saw during his tenure at the White House. He had an unprecedented view of the nation by being that close to history every day at work.

What were your favorite parts about Allen’s story? Did you have a favorite anecdote that stuck out to you as you read?

Before I go, I’ll leave this interesting link with you. This article explains the differences between Eugene Allen and the movie’s main character, Cecil Gaines. Make sure to read the article if you’re curious about how much of the movie is actually based on Allen’s life!

4 Responses to “The Butler: Week 2”

  1. Jane Engle

    One of my favorite parts of Eugene Allen’s story was insight into his relationship with President Eisenhower. Both seemed to share an acceptance of doing whatever their jobs required in the best ways possible. They took pride in themselves, their professions and how they could best serve their country and others. Each seemed to recognize this fact in each other and as a result could welcome opportunities to get together even after it was no longer in the White House. To learn that Allen took vacation days to meet with and serve himself and the retired President shows how much these meetings meant to him and likewise when it came to seeking a Gettysburg battlefield hiking companion, Eisenhower sought out Allen.

    • Erin K.

      I just feel like every new story I hear about Eugene Allen makes me like him more! He seems like he was the most kind, most giving person.

      I really wish the book had gone into more detail about Allen because I wanted to know more about him!

      Thanks for chiming in again this week! It’s always good to hear from you, Jane!

  2. Carrol

    I really liked the special relationship that developed between Eugene Allen and the author, Wil Haygood. I couldn’t believe that Eugene was so open about his White House years with this stranger. He shared so many interesting stories. Eugene obviously believed he could trust Haygood because he showed him so many personal things that were stored in the basement. I can imagine the look on Eugene’s face as he “relives” these special memories.

    I also think it was very special that these friends went together to the inaguration of Pres. Obama. It was very exciting that they could share this very important historical event together.

    I really liked getting to know this very special man. Thank you for the link to the original article. It was very interesting.

    • Erin K.

      I’m glad you liked some of the historical stories included in the book! I wish I could have seen that basement–I bet the photos and other memorabilia were so interesting. I love digging through that kind of stuff, so I would be in heaven if I could find a basement like that!

      I agree that Allen was a very special man. I’m glad that Haygood did that article so that other people could know how interesting Allen was!

      Thanks for chiming in this week!

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