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Wil Haygood Books In Order

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Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Two on the River (With: Stan Grossfeld) (1988)Description / Buy at Amazon
King of the Cats (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Haygoods of Columbus (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
In Black and White (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
Sweet Thunder (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Butler (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
Showdown (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
Tigerland: 1968-1969 (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon
I Too Sing America (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon
Colorization (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Wil Haygood
Wil Haygood was born in Columbus, Ohio on September 19, 1954. He is a journalist and author who is best known for his 2008 article called “A Butler Well Served by this Election” in The Washington Post about Eugene Allen. The article later served as the basis for the movie “The Butler”, released in 2013 and was directed by Lee Daniels, and starred Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey. Since then, Haygood has written a book about Allen, called “The Butler: A Witness to History”.

As he was getting interviewed on Conversations with Allan Wolper on WBGO 88.3 FM, he revealed that he’d found another White House butler. However at the last minute, this butler, who had served three presidents, refused to be interviewed, because the man’s family apparently didn’t want his story out against the parallel story of President Barack Obama’s election.

Haygood is a fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and a professor at Miami University.

He entered Miami University in 1972. Like in high school, Wil was determined to earn a spot on Miami’s basketball team, and during the 1973-74 season, he was a proud member of the Miami University junior varsity team. He graduated from Miami in the year 1976 with an urban planning degree, however exhibiting a knack for storytelling early on, he started in journalism at the Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette and two years later, he moved on to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

In the year 1984, he became a staff writer at the Boston Globe, where he was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize, and stayed there for several years before he became a writer for the Washington Post in the year 2002. While Wil was an investigative reporter, he traveled all around the globe, including South Africa (where he witnessed Nelson Mandela’s release from prison), India, France, and Germany. He was also kidnapped and ransomed by rebels in Somalia.

“Showdown”, his book about Thurgood Marshall, was nominated for an NAACP Image Award, an Andrew Carnegie Medal of Excellence, and a finalist for the 2016 Dayton Literary Prize. It also won the 2016 Scribes Book Award from the American Society of Legal Writers. His book “Tigerland 1968-1969: A City Divided, A Nation Torn Apart, And A Magical Season of Healing” was runner up for the 2019 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Nonfiction. In 2022, he was selected to be the recipient of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize’s Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award.

“Tigerland 1968-1969: A City Divided, A Nation Torn Apart, And A Magical Season of Healing” is a non-fiction book that was released in 2018. Two teams from a black, poor, segregated high school in Ohio, who, during the racial turbulence of 1968-69, win the Ohio state baseball and basketball championships in the same year.

1968 and 1969: Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. get assassinated. Race relations are frayed in an unprecedented way. Cities are burning while demonstrations and riots proliferate. However in Columbus, Ohio, the Tigers of segregated East High School win the basketball and baseball championships, defeating the larger and richer, whiter teams across the whole state.

Now, Will Haygood provides us with a stirring and spirited telling of this improbable triumph and takes us deeper into the personal lives of these local heroes. Kenny Mizelle, the second baseman for the Tigers, who grew up under the false impression his dad was dead. Robert Wright, power forward, whose dad was a killer. Eddie “Rat” Ratleff, star of both teams and would play for the 1972 US Olympic basketball team.

We also meet Jack Gibbs (the very first black principal at East High), the hometown fans that followed the Tigers to stadiums all over the state, and Bob Hart (the Tigers white coach that was determined to battle against the injustices he saw inflicting his team). And equally important, Wil puts the Tigers’ story in the context of the racially charged late sixties. The result is both a singularly illuminating social history and an inspiring sports story.

“Colorization: One Hundred Years of Black Films in a White World” is a non-fiction book that was released in 2021. This unprecedented history of Black cinema examines a century of Black movies (from “Gone with the Wind” to Blaxploitation films to “Black Panther”) using the triumphs and struggles of the artists, the films themselves, as a prism with which to explore Black culture, racism, and civil rights in America.

Starting in 1915 with D. W. Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation”, which glorified the KKK and became Hollywood’s first blockbuster, Wil gives us a fascinating, incisive, little known history, spanning over a hundred years, about black artists in the film business, behind the scenes and onscreen.

Wil makes clear the effects of changing social realities and events on the business of making movies and on what was represented onscreen: interracial relationships, Jim Crow and segregation to white flight, from the assassination of Malcolm X, to O. J. Simpson trial, all the way to the Black Lives Matter movement. He considers the movies themselves (including “Do the Right Thing”, “12 Years a Slave”, “Porgy and Bess”, “Imitation of Life”, “Black Panther”, and “Gone with the Wind” as well as Blaxploitation films).

And he sheds new light on the significance and careers of a wide range of historic and contemporary figures. Like Berry Gordy, Ava DuVernay, Spike Lee, Hattie McDaniel, Alex Haley, Sidney Poitier, Richard Pryor, Jordan Peele, Billy Dee Williams, Halle Berry, among so many others.

A timely and important book, “Colorization” gives the reader a groundbreaking perspective on racism in modern America and an unprecedented history of Black cinema.

At once a history book, a film book, and a civil rights book, this is without a doubt not just one of the very best film books but also one of the best books of the year in any genre. This is an absolutely essential read. It was selected by NPR as one of their best books of the year, was a New York Times Critics’ Top Book of the Year, and a Booklists’ Editor’s Choice.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Wil Haygood

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