In Hoffa’s Shadow details the riveting story of Jimmy Hoffa’s mysterious disappearance. It is amply supplied with roller-coaster drama and elegant writing.

The author is the stepson of Charles “Chuckie” O’Brien, the loyal and longtime assistant to Jimmy Hoffa. (I should add that the author is a professor at Harvard law school and a wonderful mentor to our youngest son.)

I well remember the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa. My young assessment was that his Teamster job was really a front to make lots of money from his mobster connections. The reality, like many true things, is more complicated and compelling than the simple narrative I believed in high school.

Goldsmith artfully tells the story of his stepfather’s quest to gain his innocence. I am convinced that Chuckie had nothing to do with the disappearance and death of Hoffa. The story is told with judicious detail and an appropriate pathos that one would expect from a loving stepson.

But don’t be mistaken. This is not a hagiographical account. Goldsmith is quick to admit the many faults and foibles of his stepfather. Perhaps you noticed that Goldsmith did not keep his stepfather’s surname. I won’t go into why, but it underscores that this book is not some cheap, laudatory account. On the other end of the spectrum, it is equally not remotely in the Mommie Dearest genre.

If you are looking for an engaging book full of twists and turns, I highly recommend In Hoffa’s Shadow. I should add the subtitle: A Stepfather, a Disappearance in Detroit, and My Search for the Truth.

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