Jack Goldsmith, Author of In Hoffa’s Shadow

Published on12 FEB 2020

Jack Goldsmith discusses his examination of the disappearance of former Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa in 1975, the impact of Hoffa’s story on Goldsmith’s own life and the evolution of the American labor movement and Hoffa’s legacy.

On the impact of Hoffa’s story on Goldsmith’s life: “It's impossible to exaggerate what a huge story this was. It was because Hoffa was so famous and because he disappeared without a trace [and] because they just couldn't find out anything about what happened to him. So, it was front page news for a very long time and [my stepfather], Chuckie [O’Brien], soon became the leading suspect. So all of that investigation force came down on our family.”

On Hoffa’s legacy: “The very high point of labor in terms of union density, percentage of workers who were in unions and union power, was literally the point at which Bobby Kennedy started going after Jimmy Hoffa…. There was a 10% drop that year and there's been a precipitous decline ever since. Labor historians say that that was the moment at which labor got tagged with the corruption label…. At the same time, there's been a decline of the mob and the irony about the decline of the mob is that it really happened because of the Jimmy Hoffa disappearance.”

Explore More Insights