The first title acquired by publisher Dawn Davis for her new Atria imprint 37 Ink is Wil Haygood’s The Butler: A Witness to History, a tie-in to the forthcoming Weinstein Company film of the same name. Directed by Oscar winner Lee Daniels and starring Forest Whitaker in the title role, the film is based on Haygood’s 2008 Washington Post article, "A Butler Well Served by This Election."
Haygood’s article profiled former White House head butler Eugene Allen, who served eight presidents from 1952 to 1986. Though he worked behind the scenes, Allen had a unique front-row seat as political and racial history was made. He lived to vote for and witness Barack Obama’s 2008 election, and passed away in the spring of 2009. The book’s on-sale date is July 30, ahead of the movie's release on August 16.
The Butler will be released with a 75,000 copy first printing. The book chronicles Haygood’s experience of seeking and finding Allen, and describes their relationship as well as Allen’s history at the White House. The book includes 45 photographs of Allen, his family, and the presidents he served, as well as an essay which explores the history of African Americans in Hollywood.
Davis acquired the project after learning of Haygood’s connection to it. "I knew his work—at Amistad, I’d reissued the paperback of King of the Cats. I reached out to him and asked if there was more he could say beyond what’s in the film, enough for a book. He mentioned that he had lots of thoughts about the images of blacks in the movies. So between the two, there is a slice of history worth contemplating."
Davis also notes that the book has been selected by the History Book Club, Doubleday, Literary Guild, Black Expressions, QPB, and BOMC.