“One of the best books of the year!” — Chicago Tribune
One of the best books at the Hollywood, New York, London and New England book festivals!
“This wonderful book is one of a kind – part thriller, part history, and part love story of an unusual sort: of a son for his father and the very different life he led. Crossing Hoffa is gripping, tender, and intriguing – pure pleasure on every page.” — Scott Turow, author of Presumed Innocent, Limitations, and numerous other books
On a spring evening in 1961, over-the-road trucker Jim Harper was en route from Mauston, Wisconsin to his home in Minneapolis. At 70 miles per hour, with a combined 60,000 pounds of man, machine, and material, he approached a curve along the Great River Road and hit the brakes. The tractor-trailer didn’t slow. Harper’s brakes failed. For the second time in two weeks his truck had been sabotaged.
In preceding months, Harper had led an insurgency in his Teamsters’ Local 544 to clean up corruption among its leaders. His efforts drew the attention of Jimmy Hoffa, at the time focused on securing his right to lead the national Teamsters organization without government intervention.
Jim Harper had his reasons for confronting his local’s leadership – a hard-scrabble childhood and a stint in Angola prison had left him seeking redemption. But Hoffa, under federal investigation for questionable financial dealings, had deep, dark secrets; the last thing he needed was a spotlight on Minneapolis.
Even after Hoffa personally told him to stop the crusade, Harper would not stand down. He could not. His perseverance beyond all rationality placed him in mortal danger as his friends betrayed or deserted him and his enemies tried to kill him.
Somehow, he survived. When he died forty years later, the artifacts of his union battle remained among his most treasured possessions, documenting the defining episode of his life. But behind what he had always thought was just an unsuccessful effort to follow Hoffa’s announced agenda of “union reform” lay a saga of courage and intrigue – a saga he would never know.
He was my father, and this is his story.