Out of the Jungle: Jimmy Hoffa and the Remaking of the American Working Class

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Temple University Press, 2003 - Biography & Autobiography - 272 pages
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In Out of the Jungle, historian Thaddeus Russell gives us an account of Jimmy Hoffa's life and times, much of it previously untold. Russell argues that Hoffa was compelled by a variety of social forces to place the economic interests of his union members over broad ideological concerns. The most important of those forces was the demonstrated desire of ordinary Teamsters to improve their material lives. "What do you hire us for," he famously asked a meeting of truck drivers, "if not to sell your labor at the highest buck we can get?" He responded to the rank-and-file members' demands as did none of his contemporaries in the labor movement, seeking financial gain with the mercilessness that made him renowned and feared.
Russell shows how Hoffa's ruthless attitudes evolved over his career. Beginning in the small Indiana coal-mining towns where he was born and raised, continuing into Depression-era and wartime Detroit, and then across the country after the war when Hoffa gained national notoriety, Russell places his life and career in historical perspective. The author presents new interpretations of how the Depression, the New Deal, World War II, and Robert F. Kennedy's crusade against organized crime affected not only Hoffa and the Teamsters but also the American labor movement as a whole.
  

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Out of the jungle: Jimmy Hoffa and the remaking of the American working class

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Russell (history, Barnard Coll.) gives us the first scholarly work presenting Hoffa's life within the context of the American labor movement. The work's major theme is reflected in its title ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
3
American Soil
7
Jungle Unionism
16
The Limits of Brotherhood
33
The Wages of War
58
The Price of Peace
73
A New Man of Power
96
The Making of a Labor Boss
118
Jungle Politics
147
The Enemy Within
171
Remaking the American Working Class
191
Crucifixion of an Antichrist
213
Resurrection
227
Notes
233
Index
265
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About the author (2003)

Thaddeus Russell is visiting Assistant Professor of History at Barnard College.

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