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Crossing Hoffa

Crossing Hoffa

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A Teamster's Story

Author Steven J. Harper

Minnesota Historical Society Press (June 15, 2007)

A forthright teamster faces off with Jimmy Hoffa in this true saga of corruption, betrayal, intrigue, and courage.


On a spring day 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 brake lines had been cut.

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 none other than 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 hardscrabble childhood and a stint in Angola prison had left him seeking redemption, and Jimmy Hoffa had publicly called for union reform. But Hoffa, under federal investigation for questionable financial dealings, had deep, dark secrets; the last thing he needed was a spotlight on Minneapolis. Despite the increasing threats to his life and those of his young family, Harper continued to press his case.

In this fascinating account, Harper’s son traces the interwoven paths of these two men—a criminal icon and a determined vigilante—from their formative years through their unbelievable face-off.

Author information

Steven J. Harper has been a litigation partner in the international law firm of Kirkland & Ellis LLP for more than twenty years and has tried civil cases to judges and juries throughout the country. This is his first book.

Reviews and news

In the media:

Pioneer Press

Chicago Tribune


"First-time author Harper presents a tale of mystery and intrigue that begins after his father's death, when he discovered the secret contents of a locked metal box that had never left his father's side. The father, James Harper, had been an over-the-road truck driver and a card-carrying member of the Teamster's Union in the early 1960s, when corruption ran rampant under the leadership of then-president Jimmy Hoffa. . . . Although much has been written about the enigmatic Hoffa, Harper's revelations present a unique and personal perspective."

Crossing Hoffa: A Teamster’s Story delves into the early lives of both Jim Harper and Jimmy Hoffa to probe why Harper might have continued the fight despite the consequences…. It’s a thoroughly researched book.”
Chicago Sun Times

“The book is at its best when it relates stories passed from father to son; an ominous dinner with a nameless ‘friend’ of Hoffa’s—a mob character, we’re led to assume—at Charlie’s Café Exceptionale; a meeting with Hoffa at the Park-Nicollett Hotel; a harrowing truck ride down Hwy. 61 near Winona.”
Star Tribune

Awards for Crossing Hoffa:

Best Books of 2007, Chicago Tribune
Best Books, 2008 New York Book Festival
"Honorable Mention" in the 2008 Hollywood Book Festival's Biography/Autobiography category.

Advance Praise:

"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 other best-sellers.

"This is riveting eyewitness history preserved for all time; a wise portrait of a courageous and quixotic father by his son; a sobering look at a trucker up against the ruthless Godfather of the labor movement at its zenith. Harper leads the reader - as he was led - from clue to fascinating clue, uncovering the mystery of why Hoffa put a hit on his father and why his father got in Hoffa's path and wouldn't back off. Bravo."
Charles Brandt, author of "I Heard You Paint Houses": Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran and Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa

"Steven Harper has written an elegant and moving account of his late father's pyrrhic confrontation with Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa. This book should be a model for every memoirist, journalist, or historian interested in writing about the human side of the labor movement, and it is a must-read for anyone else who cares about families and their struggles."
Steven Lubet, author of Murder in Tombstone: The Forgotten Trial of Wyatt Earp and numerous other books

"Everybody of a certain age remembers Jimmy Hoffa, but, until this indelible account, few of us knew Jim Harper, an uncommonly brave and resourceful common man. Our sense of a not-so-distant time and place is all the richer for having made his acquaintance."
William Swanson, author of Dial M: The Murder of Carol Thompson

  • This title is also available at your favorite e-book vendor.
  • 248 pages
  • 15 b&w illustrations
  • 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • ISBN: 9780873515801

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