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Jimmy Hoffa in the news and in books

Books about Jimmy Hoffa and writing nonfiction

Jimmy Hoffa listens to Bernard Spindel after illegal wiretap court session.

Jimmy Hoffa and the story of his life and disappearance is a bit like crabgrass: it’s recurring and you can’t seem to get rid of it. Once again the teamster boss makes news with the FBI on the hunt again for his body.

I remember Jimmy Hoffa

He was hard to miss back in the day. Jimmy Hoffa was in the news a lot as I grew up and his disappearance headlined the papers and TV during my 20s. He’s been the subject of a lot of books. Some good. Some not so good. He even wrote a book himself during his time in prison.

The public loves a mystery; writers love a mystery. Hoffa remains a mystery. Expect more books. If you don’t know much about the man or haven’t a clue about what all the hoopla is about, here’s a few books below that illustrate the many ways writers have chosen to reveal the man known as Jimmy Hoffa.

How do you write about Jimmy Hoffa?

How do writers go about the business of writing about a figure like Jimmy Hoffa? There are any number of angles that writers use to show the life of their subject. Here’s a few books about Jimmy Hoffa that detail some of these biographical doorways.

Books about Jimmy Hoffa

Hoffa, the Real Story

Written by the man himself, Hoffa: The Real Story is the strong and single viewpoint of the Jimmy Hoffa. His life as he knew it, as he presented it. One way to reveal a person’s story is through the main character’s own narration.

This book is the autobiography of Jimmy Hoffa. Obviously, one can assume it’s a bit biased but a lot can be gleaned from a narrator, even one who may be as unreliable as Jimmy Hoffa. If you want to study someone in depth, it might be good to start with the subject’s own testimony and then move on to others. With these types of books, writers usually end up being the ghostwriter.

Crossing Hoffa: A Teamster’s Story

Crossing Hoffa: A Teamster’s Story presents another way to come at a story. Here the story is provoked by a real family mystery about the author’s father who had been a teamster and the mystery and his connection with Jimmy Hoffa uncovered after his death by his son.

This doorway into a story isn’t available for every writer but if you have a specific connection with your subject it is one way to go. Watch the C-SPAN author interview for more information.

“I Heard You Paint Houses”

Yet another way of coming into a story is through the people who knew the main character. In “I Heard You Paint Houses”: Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran & Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa, the author pulls together the story from five years of recorded interviews.

Titles can be revealing. “I heard you paint houses,” is talk for what someone kills somebody and “splatters blood on the walls and floors.” This type of story presents the subject, Jimmy Hoffa, at a slightly different angle.

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

 When you have figure like Jimmy Hoffa, some writers can come at the story from a historical perspective. This is the avenue taken by Thaddeus Russell in Out of the Jungle: Jimmy Hoffa and the Remaking of the American Working Class (Labor in Crisis)Here the writer is going to weave in the many historical threads and provide an on-going analysis of the man and his place in history. Jimmy Hoffa, as an American labor union president, was a major player in the United States for decades.

Although Jimmy Hoffa’s reign over the labor unions ended years ago, his story continues through the works of writers up through 2012. To see how writers continue to find new publishing pathways, check out these books about Jimmy Hoffa.

What do you think about the Hoffa? Is he worthy book material? Do you agree that we’ll be seeing more books? What about the various ways of coming at a story? Which one would you prefer to use?

  • IMAGES & AFFILIATE CREDITS: book covers and titles via Amazon.com affiliate program; Image: Jimmy Hoffa By New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper staff photographer: Roger Higgins [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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