Arthur Sloane, as a Harvard graduate student, first met Jimmy Hoffa in 1962 and he has been fascinated by this powerful and contradictory figure ever since. Now, nearly three decades after that first encounter, Sloane has written the only comprehensive biography of the late Teamster leader, having been provided full access to Hoffa's family, friends, and professional associates.Hoffa is a rich and colorful portrait of one of the most influential figures in American labor. It covers in considerable detail all the facets of Hoffa's remarkable life and death: his rise to total dominance over the largest, strongest, and wealthiest union in American history; his near-Victorian personal habits; the legal problems that plagued his later years; and, of course, the shadowy events surrounding his presumed Mafia murder in 1975. Jimmy Hoffa's middle name was Riddle, and as Sloane points out, he was indeed a mass of contradictions. To many, Hoffa was a kind of latter-day Al Capone, the dictator-president of a corrupt and overly powerful Teamsters Union. To others, he was a devoted family man and a workaholic union leader, who was both amazingly accessible to his hundreds of thousands of truck driver constituents ("You got a problem? Call me. Just pick up the phone.") and hugely successful in improving working conditions for them. In fact, each of these perspectives, Sloane observes, is far too limited to tell the full story of this complicated man.
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This is the single best labor book I have ever read. It is real in its scope and description of a labor leader when labor leaders came from the working class and weren’t ashamed of that fact. This is a story of a man that came from humble beginnings and never forgot it. It’s a story of a man that was attack by the rich corporatist but at the same time respected. It’s a story about a man that was attacked by wealthy liberals and held in contempt by the same people that believed the business of the working class is to important to be left to the working class, Bobby Kennedy. The only truly important message in this review is that you read this book!
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