According to Arthur Sloane’s bio of Jimmy Hoffa, “Illegitimi non carborundum” was the Latin inscription on a plate in Hoffa’s office. It roughly translates to “don’t let the bastards get you down.” Sloane’s book was an extremely detailed history of the Teamsters labor leader. It was also very dry. Like Sahara dry. I’ve been on a bit of a kick lately with books that have some sort of union theme (see Fordlandia and Crash Course). And some of my work lately has been involving multi-employer teamster funds. So I thought it would be interesting to learn more about the famous leader of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Sloane’s bio looked the most comprehensive. It was. But it was also pretty academic. Tough to devour. I admit only to reading most of it. But I skimmed too. Flew through a few chapters like I was using the DVR during American Idol. I was hoping for a more elaborate telling of Hoffa’s story. Sloane was only in chapter two and Hoffa was already in front of a Congressional panel. What tempted him? What drove him to the connections with the mafia? Why did Hoffa become “Hoffa?” I guess that’s what I was hoping for. I got a few good stories out of the book, and the chapter about Hoffa’s disappearance was pretty good. Surprising was the excited reaction of Hoffa to JFK’s assassination. Even the worst of enemies usually have some begrudging respect for their adversaries.
Not much else to tell here. I felt a little guilty skipping chapters. I still have this feeling that not finishing a book is like an offense to the gods of the Amazon. I have quite a few books that I have bought and not yet read. I used to think that they were like litter on the shelves, reminding me of little mini-failures and wasted expenses. I’ve completely reconsidered. Books I haven’t yet read are for the future. Someday I’ll read them. And they will be part of the library I’m putting together in the spare bedroom. That project is a few weeks away from finally being completed. In addition, someday, someone will inherit the library. So maybe the books will be useful for someone else down the line. In the meantime, I’m putting the part-read, part-skimmed Hoffa on my shelf.