Author Investigates His Family Ties To Jimmy Hoffa's Disappearance

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

From whyy in Philadelphia. This is fresh air. I'm Dave Davies in for Terry Gross. Today inside into the nineteen seventy-five disappearance of mob connected. Did teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa betrayed by Al Pacino in the new film. The Irishman we talk with Jack Goldsmith. Who Stepfather Chuck? O'Brien spent decades at Hoffa's aside willing to do anything for his boss like intimidate nosy journalists. He purchased ahead of a cadaver. Put it in a box wrapped up the box and Senate you too Martin. Hayden who is the editor of the Detroit News when Hoffa disappeared authorities fingered O'Brien as a suspect and the new film depicts him driving Hoffa to who is Murder Goldsmith. A Harvard law professor poured over records talks to FBI agents on the case and reached some surprising conclusions about what really happened. Spend also film critic. Justin Chang reviews little women. The new Martin Scorsese Film. The Irishman is introducing a new generation of Americans to Jimmy Hoffa. Ah The tough mob-connected leader of the teamsters union who vanished and was presumed murdered in nineteen seventy five. HOFFA's disappearance is one of the great unsolved crimes of the twentieth century. Our Guest Jack. Goldsmith has a close family connection to Jimmy Hoffa and to his mysterious demise. Goldsmith is a Harvard law professor but he's best known for having headed the office of Legal Counsel in the George W Bush administration during his tenure. He challenged the warrantless wiretapping program. Program and harsh interrogation techniques used against suspected. Terrorists goldsmiths new memoir in Hoffa's shadow is about his stepfather. Chuck O'Brien Brian. A close associate of Hoffa's and about Goldsmiths investigation into O'Brien's alleged role in Hoffa's disappearance O'Brien's a minor character in the Irishman played by Jesse Clemens. In the film he drives Hoffa to his execution a role the FBI long suspected O'Brien played in the plot. But as you'll hear Goldsmith and other investigators have now concluded. O'Brien had nothing to do with Hoffa's disappearance. I spoke to Jack Goldsmith in September. We'll Jack Goldsmith. Welcome welcome to fresh air This is quite a story. And there's a couple generations of Americans who don't remember Jimmy Hoffa so why don't you just tell us a little bit about who he wasn't. Listen his place in the American labor movement. Sure thank you for having me on. Jimmy Hoffa was the president of the teamsters union from nineteen fifty seven to nineteen sixty seven teams. Union was at the time the largest union in the country and the most powerful Hoffa rose to become the head of the Teacher's Union from Detroit. Where he where? He expanded his power over the decades. He was simultaneously the best known Labor leader in the country the most powerful Labour leader in the country and also probably the most corrupt. He had ties to organized crime. He was defiant the law but he was much beloved by the members of his union because he was very successful in raising their standards of living right and of course he was driven from the presidency of the teamsters after some criminal convictions That the Justice Department went after him in a very big way and then in nineteen seventy five. He disappeared and is presumed to have been murdered. That's one of the great unsolved cases of the twentieth century. You are I guess about eighth grader. So then right And I was twelve years old. I think I was in What was I in sixth grade? Okay and your your family's life intersected with this case in a very personal way. Explain that for US sticks weeks before Hoffa disappeared which was on July thirtieth nineteen seventy-five. My mother married a man named Charles Chuckie. O'Brien and it turned out that Chuckie O'Brien who was my stepfather at that point Was Jimmy Hoffa's longtime right hand man and most intimate aid and then after the disappearance six weeks after my mom married him. He soon became the leading suspect in the disappearance he was believed that he picked up Hoffa and are outside of a restaurant where he was waiting and delivered him to his killers. What was chucky? Like toss about so he was. It was amazing. I I mean he wasn't. He was not a man who was well educated and He was not someone who I see now from my current perspective who cared much about the law but he had very firm sense of right and wrong and he taught us right from wrong in a in a in a way that had a huge impact on my life. The main thing I can say about him it was that despite all of his troubles he spent in all of his time every second free time devoted to me and my two brothers and just everything we did. And it's it's hard to exaggerate. What an impact? This had on me because as I say I was basically fatherless for the first twelve years and it was the first time any male attention had ever come my way to that degree and and so he basically did everything we wanted to do. We went to distant counter bookstores. To get count books. He always seemed to be able to get tickets to sports events. Even though he always had money troubles he went to all of our athletic events. He had big cook. Cook outs for my team And he was just a hugely supportive. Supportive loving father right and there were a couple of mob figures that he was close to who you got to know right sure One one was anthony. Jack alumnae A senior organized crime official in Detroit and another one was Anthony Province. Zano a teamsters official and a member of the Genovese family in New Jersey and of course when I was a teenager I didn't know any of this. I mean I read the newspapers and saw them referred to his mobsters but to me. They were uncle Tony and Uncle Tony and they were you know. upstanding gentlemen on an uncle turney. Jack Loney was impeccably dressed. He had a beautiful apartment that we used to go to a lot uncle. Tony Provenzano had an amazing pool table and we used to play their lot and he ended up Giving us that Pool Table One day. Okay so I was very close to these people who are being described in the newspapers. These horrible violent mobsters but to me. They're family Part of this book is sort of a look at the American labor movement. and Jimmy Hoffa's life and it's fascinating you know. He had a reputation as a guy. who was you know violent and corrupt you kind of the worst of the American American labor movement and you argue? There's really more to his story Tell us what people don't know about Hoffa his life and motivations since there's much more story and I really do think that only one half of of Hoffa's career has been told the one you just described. He came up through organized labor. The hard way in the nineteen thirties which was the most violent time in American labor history He was in constantly fighting with police and management in truly violent street fights where employers with the state behind. It was truly violent towards efforts to organized labor unions at a time when the American worker was in just a terrible terrible shape so this is the world he grew up in as a young man and it it colored the way he looked at labor relations with management and the government for the rest of his life. I mean he basically assumed from that early period when he saw the state and and management together fighting unions and violent ways he basically assumed and believed that was the way of the world ever since and that shaped his outlook he was also. It's not well known but he was also a true genius and this is not a word that this is not just something I think. It's what Labor stories into studied His career have said a true genius at bargaining and organizing and he built out the Teamsters Union and he leveraged the power over transportation and the ability to shutdown transportation which was at the heart of the economy to expand his power nationwide To the point where right at the height of his career right when Heidi was criminal trouble he he won a An historic Nationwide Labor repacked that was really the highlight of his twenty years of dramatically expanding wages and benefits for the hundreds of thousands of the people in the Union. That was actually over a million at that point so he was a very important person in the labor movement and very consequential and very good at what he did. Despite the fact that that as you say he was a serial lawbreaker and had all sorts of Krupp ties. And it's pretty remarkable to have gotten a national contracts for truck drivers when you consider the fact that you know truck. The trucking industry was purdy. Decentralized you're talking about hundreds of different employers in all all over the country and what's interesting as you tell. The story. Is that one of the ways he got so connected to the mob was in trying to get all of these different locals unified fight and negotiating together for national contract and in he was from Detroit but a lot of the locals in the east had some serious mob ties. How did that affect his relationship chip with organized crime? His relationship with organized crime began earlier in Detroit in the nineteen forties but the relationship between Unions in Detroit and the mob. There was one of arms length and the mob didn't control unions in Detroit but when Hoffa tried to expand his power nationally nationally he met an encountered lots of unions that were mob-controlled especially in the east and New York New Jersey and basically don't and he also had to. It was important to get a national contract to slow down wages in the large cities so he could bring up wages elsewhere so that basically it meant that the unions in the big cities would have to at least in the short term. Take a hit so to make a long story short. He basically had to accommodate the mob. Bob Control these unions in order to both win the presidency of the Union and achieve his goal of winning a national contract and for Hoffa. I don't think he blinked linked. I don't think he gave it a second thought. His basic view was that he would do business with anyone on any terms which he found advantageous to him and his union and so so I think that his deal with the mob in the east to win their support for going slow on wages and giving them support for the presidency for half of that was just slyke bargaining with employers or bargaining. Or you know giving money to politicians or judges that he thought would bring him in advantage. It's interesting to say. He was not particularly attracted into mob life. Mob Culture Right. Yeah this is. This is something that Chucky taught me that I certainly didn't appreciate from my research Hoffa's always referred to as mobbed up and mob connected and that's certainly true he had relations with The mafia all over the country. But they're always at arm's length and his truck he said to me he never really understood the Italians He didn't understand the rituals. He didn't understand the code of silence. He didn't understand how they kissed each each other when they saw each other. And he didn't understand the organization he basically dealt with the person in charge of the place or in the context where he needed help and that it was often with the mob and he just he basically viewed it as a transaction like his other transactions the most significant transactions he had were with loaning money to the mob for various projects that they had that brought off a huge huge amounts of money. Personally and for the teamsters Union Union and but for him as I say it wasn't like he was hanging out going to dinner with these guys or Spending a lot of time with them he was for him. It was just part of doing in business Didn't drink right worked around the clock. He was a workaholic. He didn't drink he was he was very very moralistic. He didn't like it when guys screwed around as he would say when some of his People work for him. Or having affairs he was strangely easily moralistic given that he was such a serial lawbreaker he He spent almost all of his waking hours With the locals locals hanging out with members of the Union listening to them. He gave away his telephone number and he would literally feel collect phone calls day and night from any member of the Union Union He was extraordinarily committed to his union. And that's where it's been all the time. Even when he was on trial and had many many trials he would go to trial in the morning and then in the afternoon in the hotel where they had a sweet they would he would basically set up an office on the road and spend the afternoon evening doing union business as Hoffa. I was having these battles and building his union career. A year. Stepdad chucky was with him. You didn't know him yet that that that came later but as you came came to understand it. What was chuck E. Cheese relationship with Hoffa and his role in the Union Chucky MEDOFF? When he was nine years old he was introduced to him and by his mother Sylvia Pagano and so he began? I was actually a very important person in the story. Because she introduced Hoffa to through the mob and Detroit and two other mobsters around the country and she was very consequential figure in Hoffa's relationships With organized crime so chucky new Hoffa and was close to him since he was nine years old and then when he was eighteen he wanted to get a job in the union. Hoffa eventually eventually gave him a a very low level job as an organizer as a business agent but then when Hoffa became president of the Union in Nineteen fifty seven when chucky. I just think twenty three years old he asked Chucky to basically be a special assistant and from that point on from nineteen fifty seven until Hoffa went to to prison in Nineteen seventy-one Cecchi was basically always Hoffa's side. He was basically I mean effect. Totem seems like it's not a very area Attractive where but that's basically what he was. He took care of anything and everything HOFFA needed from meals to organizing meetings to collecting intelligence. He he was also a bodyguard. He would Tie Tie in the morning because often never was very good. At tying a tie he was basically his run around the clock assistant but they it was more than just that they were. They were extremely close in. Everyone believed because they were so close. Because Hoffa was always covering for Chucky or showing affection to chucky that he'd usually didn't show to others. Everyone assumed it was widely rumored that Hoffa was actually his real father. You don't think that's the case. I spent a lot of time digging and I do not believe. That's the case. I think the the reason people believe that is because Hoffa was very very close to chuck his mother Sylvia Elvia and because he had heard such showed such affection to Chucky. But no I don't believe it was the case. I mean if for no other reason than that at the time. CECCHI was born born in the year two. Before there's no reason to think that Jackie's mother and Hoffa were in the same town near one another but also chucky insists that it wasn't true and I believe he he would do almost anything for Jimmy. Hoffa what are a couple of the wilder moments in in his service of of Jimmy Hoffa. He said to me many times that he would do do anything for Jimmy Hoffa. Some of the stories recount in the book are one of the funniest ones. I guess it's funny is the time. When HOFFA was complaining about out the editor of the Detroit News who was incessantly pounding Hoffa in his corruption in the like in a way that Hawthorne was unfair and he told chucky take care of it and do whatever he needed to get the gadget to tone it? Down so chucky got the brilliant idea of going to the Wayne County morgue where he purchase a cadaver or purchase. I should say the head of a cadaver. Put it in a box wrapped up the box and put a note in it. He didn't tell me what the note said. And send it to Martin Hayden who is the editor of the Detroit News Do you know what's his reaction was. We don't know what his reaction was. I actually was able to confirm the story through a variety of sources But I wasn't Hayden's no longer with us and I wasn't able to figure out what his reaction was so all of this remarkable markle stuff about Hoffa's career his ties with the law his eventual conviction and imprisonment happens. Before you get to know your stepfather. Chucky he comes into your life right around the time that Hoffa disappears appears in nineteen seventy five and you find him a loving and devoted father for many years after that. In fact you change your name from Jack Goldsmith Smith to Jack. O'Brien taking your Stepdad's name. But then your attitude towards him changes. Tell us why what happened. What happened when I went to college? A lot of things started changing. I I started to think about my future in my life in a way that I really hadn't before I got to college I wasn't a terribly Surrey's high school student in College. I began for the first time to read some of the new books about the HOFFA disappearance. And these new books painted chucky and Uncle Tony Colonie and uncle Tony Province Zano in objectively unflattering lights and so the the kind of the myth that chucking perpetuated when I was a teenager and that I bought completely by the time I got to college. I started to see that there was a quite different reality behind that One afternoon In my sophomore year my car was repossessed by a very thuggish looking repo man in a way is a car that had given giving me and he had not been able to make the payments on it and the car was taken away from me in a very embarrassing and threatening way and that kind of scared me and I started to think maybe association with Chucky will have bad impact or a dangerous impact on my life and then finally I started thinking in college but especially in law school about my career and and I decided in college that I wanted to be a lawyer and I started to think that maybe wouldn't be such a great thing to be a lawyer and especially if I wanted to work in the government which had a dim ambition to do at the time. It wouldn't be so great to be associated with leading suspect in Hoffa disappearance and his organized crime friends right. So do you actually get your name changed back to Jack Goldsmith and you write your Stepdad. A letter would you tell them. How did he respond so on Father's Day in nineteen eighty? I wrote him a letter. Kind of Strangely upbeat letter wishing him fathers happy father's Day telling him how much I love him and telling him that the name change which I told him about the phone call the week earlier was no big deal still loved him. But that I just wanted wanted to have my own name and tried to beat about it It was a pretty unconvincing letter to read it today. He responded by sending me an extraordinary Mary. Eight or nine page letter written on the stationary of the International Brotherhood of teamsters handwritten and his kind of looping cursive handwriting. And it was. It was Something that he later told me he spent a week on all round the clock. He talked a lot of people about it. He practiced his handwriting. So that you wouldn't make spelling mistakes and it was just an extraordinary letter about how much he loved me and how her he was about what I did and how much it hurts my family. My my little brothers who still a Ryan my mother but it was also a letter that said you have to decide for yourself sign. You're an adult and and you have to make decisions for yourself and I can accept this. It's going to hurt me a lot but I accept it and I love you very much. That's a short summary of what was really an extraordinary letter. But that's that's basically what it said and then you really barely had any contact with him for like close to twenty years right so that was in nineteen eighty. By the time I got to law school in eighty six. I basically decided that I wasn't going to talk to him anymore. And I basically come out of my life and I was kind of brutal about it And we didn't speak again. We barely spoke again. I didn't see him for a couple of decades Jack. Goldsmith book is in Hoffa Shadow after a break. He'll talk about his efforts to get to the bottom of his stepfather's involvement in the Hoffa case. And what happened when he talked to. FBI agents who'd worked on the investigation also film critic Justin. Chang reviews little women directed by Greta. GERWIG WIG I'm Dave Davies. This is fresh air support for NPR and the following message come from Bayer from advances in health to innovations in agriculture bear. There is advancing science for a better life because someone with heart issues should still be able to have their heart jumped with joy because a farmer using less water should should still be able to grow their crops because someone getting older should still be able to act young at bear. This is why we science. We're listening to my interview recorded in September with Harvard Law Professor Jack Goldsmith. You graduated from Yellow School and when you ended up having a very eventful. Turn as the head of the justice. Department's Office of Legal Counsel in George W. Bush administration when You encountered the enhanced interrogation techniques that were being used in the wake of nine eleven as well as The surveillance of American citizens and wrote wrote legal memoranda undermining the justifications for that which lead to some serious confrontations in the government. You wrote a whole book about this. It's been written about a fair amount. you left after nine months but I bring it up because I wonder if you're looking at you know the unconstrained unconstrained power of government Had something to do with reconsidering your relationship with chuck it did in a kind of surprising moment ailment and then a reflection on that moment or during my time in government when I was working on trying to understand the warrantless wiretapping program That had been in place since two thousand one. This was in the fall of two thousand three or the late fall of two thousand. Three and the middle of working. On that case On about warrantless wiretapping. I came across an important Supreme Court opinion. That had a citation in it to O'Brien versus United States. And I thought that's strange. Josh and I was in the mid nineteen sixties knew. That was the time when Chucky was having some troubles with the government in connection with Hoffa so I looked at the case and it was actually a case about my stepfather chucky and it was actually a case where the government had legally surveilled in a way that overheard conversations with lawyer and the Supreme Court had Basically invalidated the conviction and ordered a retrial. So this was an extraordinary moment for me for for a lot of reasons. When I was a teenager chucky always raised kind of gone on in his not really legally informed but insistent way that the government always cut corners? He called it back up. The government always was able to break the law on secret when they were going after people in public for breaking the law and he'd always said that he had a famous Surpreme Court case and that the government had surveilled him illegally and I really didn't believe leave any of it And I didn't know about this case law school and I didn't believe any of that stuff that he had said and here I was in the Justice Department working on a program that was has Could be described as legal cutter corner cutting to put it nicely involving surveillance program and seeing smart lawyers who had worked in this case who had made What I viewed as an opportunistic interpretations to help support Unintelligent Program at the president to meet the enemy within so to speak? And in some sense exactly what chucky had said to me when I was a teenager turned out to be true and I was in the Justice Department so in a different context of course so that was a moment. It certainly didn't flip on a dime right there. And say okay I forgive chucky on. I was wrong about everything. But that was the moment in which I started to rethink him and me the and my what I'd done to him and May and I started to rethink that. Maybe I wasn't so smart and I wasn't so justified in my moral superiority. We already to him when I was younger. Man and in my Really Poor treatment of him the during my young adulthood. Well so you left the Justice Department in mid two thousand four and this would have been nearly thirty years after Jimmy Hoffa's disappearance. Nearly thirty years after Chucky was identified. Ride publicly is the guy who probably drove Hoffa to his death How widely known and widely shared and celebrated was his alleged role in this? I mean they're even Hollywood films with him as a character. Right it was. It's not just it's assumed truth. Everywhere you look. There are dozen dozen books who have placed truck in the car. Picking Up Hoffa there are A couple of movies. There's the Jack Nicholson Movie Hoffa that was in the eighties There are thousands upon thousands of stories that have played chucky in the car. The reason that the public believes has has believe since nineteen seventy five that he was the person who actually picked up profit and drove to his death is because that was the early. FBI Theory it was mentioned in an early FBI report that was leaked to the press and that early report from nineteen seventy six has basically been assumed truth about the case ever since then and it certainly certainly was in two thousand four and frankly it is today. If you if you Google O'Brien Hoffa you will find thousands of story saying he drove. Pompidou's death you. You eventually decided you're going to try and get to the bottom of at least chunkys role First of all. How did you reconcile with him? What was that like so it happened at Christmas of two thousand four about six months after I left the government and My wife and my two very young sons and and I went down there to see my mother for Christmas for the last twenty years. I refuse to visit My mom with one exception when Chucky was there because I just didn't want to even be seen with him but I decided this time for a bunch of reasons that it would be fine if he were there he was actually quite sick. He'd had a heart surgery injury. He had diabetes diabetes. My mom basically said I can't ask him to leave. If you WANNA come down here. He's going to be here in any event. I have been thinking in in the months before that. I had terribly wrong him earlier when I had renounced him in basically cut him out of my life and I had come to realize what extraordinary pain I had caused him enlarge part because A my own children. I didn't really appreciated the time when I was twenty one when I sent him and I basically changed my name and renounced him I had just had no conception of how painful that could be. Even though my Mama told me how bad it was and it was really having my own children it was also reflecting on how could moralistic and righteous. I was thinking he was a bad person and I was a good person. I came to think that it was much more complicated than that. Especially especially after. I had been knee deep in some problematic activities in the government. A whole bunch of things. led me to changed my mind and want to apologize to him and bait but it happened one night very simply we were when I got down there. I was nice him for the first time in twenty five years. He responded as as if nothing had ever happened. We had a great couple of days together. We Cook Together. We shop together. He was to care my Baby children and then one night when we were watching Seinfeld In a commercial I just turn to him and I said to him. I'm so very sorry for what I did. View the last twenty years I was wrong and I hope you'll forgive me. Let me come back into your life. And he looked at me with his puzzled expression and he started Crying and he basically said you don't need to apologize on. I understand why you did what you did. And that was basically it and we that was it we from that that moment on we he never brought it up again. We talked about sometimes the decade later but never in any in any way that caused him to bring up those twenty years in a bad way and after that we grew very very close through conversation and travelled together in the like still painful to think about that. It's every time I think about what I did to him and went the paint he went through. It's very very painful. Yes you decide. You're going to try and get to the bottom of Chunkys at least chuckles role in the Hoffa case. And your lawyer. You're you're you're skilled investigator wooded you do. What did you find? And so I decided after years of talking to him after we reconciled just having casual conversations HOFFA would come up. The disappearance would come up and I kind of became convinced that he didn't do it. And the main reason I became convinced was was because of the way he revered often spoke about Hoffa and also because the circumstances in which he was led to have done. It just didn't add up to me. So what did I do did everything I could basically talked to every. FBI investigator that ever worked the case starting with the original four FBI. Investigators Skaters who are on the case to in Detroit one in New Jersey one in New York. I spent a dozen sessions with them their extraordinary men and we actually improbably in probably. They became friends over the course of our mutual investigations into figuring out what happened. What actually happened in the disappearance? I read Boxes Fox's and boxes of government documents some of which are publicly available redacted a lot of which I got my hands on through various sources that have never been revealed and talked about before I spoke to the investigator who was on the case for fifteen years for the longest and I follow up. Leads that suggested that The FBI starting. In the nineties started to think Chucky preps wasn't involved so I followed that lead up and it turned out when I done that I learned more about why the FBI thought that Chucky may be had not done it in Indiana concluded that he had not done it and they had reason to think someone else did so at least a whole bunch of evidence events together. I figured out the holes in the circumstantial case against him and I came up with a whole bunch of reasons why I didn't think he was able to have done what he what he was alleged to have done on that day. And on July Thirtieth nineteen seventy five. And finally I think the the clinching Piece of evidence. If you WANNA call it that is the FBI Bi itself and several agents and US attorneys assisting attorneys. That I talked to were completely commenced. He was innocent. Indeed they were on the verge of exonerating him Jack Goldsmith new book. What is called in Hoffa's shadow? We'll continue our conversation in just a moment. This is fresh air this message comes from. NPR sponsor capital one with the capital one Walmart rewards card. You can earn five percent back at Walmart on line two percent at Walmart in store restaurants and travel and one percent everywhere else when you want all that you need the capital one Walmart rewards card. What's in your wallet? Terms and exclusions apply capital one and a the chat. Bot on Sheila's phone is supposed to ask her questions and but when she starts asking it questions it sends her poetry secret dwelling place mysteries held in the time fact other plan land. What happens when you treat artificial intelligence with love on the new episode from NPR? You're you're now convinced and many others. That chucky was not complicit in Hoffa's disappearance but Always believed that he probably does know things about what happened happened What did you get him to tell you? So one of the themes of the book is chucky struggles with America An and America is the code of silence that is one of the defining commitments in The Italian syndicate and Chucky was not a member of the mafia he was half Sicilian and half Irish so therefore he couldn't be a member but he always completely Imbibed ebbed Sicilian values as you put it and he completely adhered to America and he did so because his mother and Uncle Tony Jack Loney. All the people on the mafia side of his life had not convinced him. This is just the way of the world and so this was very important for him not to tell things he wasn't supposed to talk about on the other hand he knew that he needed to be truthful. With me and then he knew that I wanted to write a credible book so he ended up telling me quite a lot about a lot of things but not everything he didn't tell me I'm convinced everything he knew but he did. Tell me quite a lot about especially the run up to the disappearance and I think the basic conspiracy the disappearance and he told me enough certainly convince me of what the horrible situation he faced after the disappearance in between the government Bhave family and the mob. He was in an impossible a position there and enough to convince me that he in fact didn't Pick up off of that day right. How do you regard his insistence on going to his grave with secrets? Well I don't know how many cigarettes he's taking to his grave but he is certainly taking some secrets to his grave and I'm of two minds about it mostly. I certainly didn't try to and didn't push him to tell me things he didn't WanNa tell me and we had this this very complicated relationship over years and years of talking where he was trying his best to tell me things and sometimes indirectly pointing the things things and I was asking question after question interrogating him but I was always not wanting to go too far because I didn't want him to cross the lines he wasn't supposed to cross to explain this dance chance for years that we were both aware of and for most of the time especially starting out. I thought that his commitment to America was self serving thing and probably unprincipled and I didn't really understand it But I have to say by the end I I did come to understand it. At least in this percents for Cecchi it was really in some ways the most important thing in his life it was the principal of honor that he grew up with and that he always adhered to two and frankly it was the thing he held onto for forty five years after the disappearance when he could've sat other things to to sort of Exonerate himself himself. And didn't do you think that the Hoffa case will ever be solved. I'm not sure ever be solved in the sense that we will find fined half his body or remains or that will know exactly what happened in the parking lot in Outside the Mockus Red Fox on July Thirtieth Nineteen nineteen seventy five. What happened there the F. B. I.? Currently has what it thinks is a new theory of the case that it believes it believes that Hoffa was picked up by veto. Jack alumnae. who was the brother of Anthony Jacqueline and it believes it knows who the murderer is? What's the brother of your uncle? Tony with Jack Alani other notice billy was the brother of uncle. Tony I never met veto And it believes it knows who the killer was. He was someone who who was a low level Organized crime figure in the Seventies. WHO ROSE TO S- pretty significant prominence in the family and who died earlier this year? I don't name the person the book because I don't know what the basis of the FBI judgment is told me that several people told me that They have Sir Valence evidence and Informa- evidence that makes it think that this is what actually happened to hop for at least two is involved. I don't beyond that I don't know and I don't think the FBI has a clinching case. I think they have Basically information about who they did it but not how the kind of the irony is that in an abroad or sand super super sort of clear from the beginning that Hoffa was engaged in a course of conduct trying to return to the presidency of teamsters and attacking the then president it Frank Fitzsimmons and his mob ties and was making enemies. Yes he and he brought this on himself quite literally and in the book. I give a lot a lot of new detail about the run-up to the disappearance. The disappearance based on everything we know and everything I reported in the book was perfectly predictable. Consequence of Hamas offers behavior he was basically threatening to reveal How the mob and infiltrated the teamsters and he was threatening that in incredible way? And that's basically why he was killed House chucky now he's Not In great shape he has is a bunch of medical problems and he goes up and down he still with us but he's not in great shape as has he seen read the book he has read the book. Yes what did he think. Well I showed him the book before I decide to publish it. I originally was going to wait until until after he passed away. Publish it because I was afraid there will be some things in there that he wouldn't like and that even with dishonor him and at the same time he really wanted me to publish it before the squeezy movie came out because he wanted the world to know that he in fact did not kill. Jimmy Hoffa did not drive into his death so I decided that I was going to allow him to make read the manuscript and decide whether I publish it or not. I was going to abide by his wishes. I saw him reading parts of the book. So I'm Wentz a few times. He asked me to take out two or three very small things just out of respect for various people nothing material to the book. So that's what I knew before the book was published. He's read it since then I know he's read it now since it's been published. He's got a variety of emotions about different emotions at different times and he told me he was sorry for being such a pain in the ass by not telling me things. We'll JEKYLL Smith Thanks so much for speaking with us. Thank you very much Jack. Goldsmiths book is in Hoffa's shadow a stepfather disappearance in Detroit and my search for the truth coming up film critic. Justin Chang reviews. Little women can directed by Greta. GERWIG this is fresh air support for this podcast and the following message come from each raid. Investing your money shouldn't require moving mountains tins no matter how much or how little experience you have. Each raid makes investing simpler and for a limited time. Get One hundred dollars when you open a new account account with just five thousand dollars. It's all about helping your money work hard for you. For more information visit each raid dot com slash learn more e-trade late securities. LLC member SIPC support for NPR also comes from whyy presenting the podcast. Eleanor amplified and adventure. Series kids love here reporter. Eleanor Atwood crafty villains and solve mysteries as she travels the globe to get the big story available where you get podcasts or at whyy dot org writer director. Greta Gerwig reunites with her lady. Bird star search or Ronin in the new film little women in Gerwig Adaptation Ronin Stars as Louisa May alcott headstrong heroine Jo March film critic. Justin Chang has this review over the past few weeks. I've had people ask me about the new little women with equal parts excitement and nervousness. Was it any good after so many earlier. Screen adaptations of Louisa May alcott's beloved novel. Aw from the Nineteen thirty-three Katherine Hepburn Film to Gillian Armstrong's nineteen ninety-four version. Did we really need another go round with the march sisters. I'm happy happy to report that the answer to both questions is a resounding yes. Greta GERWIG has reshaped. That's novel with a touch that feels both faithful and radical. She wants to give us all the warm homespun pleasures and emotional satisfactions of little women. The period costumes. The sisters fireside chats some scuffles their verbal emotional sparring matches with the boy next door. Laurie but GERWIG also wants to hold this. Well worn text up to the light to to approach it from a fresh perspective and even consider some of its flaws and compromises. Her boldest stroke is to shake up the chronology cutting between two timeframes frames that begins seven years apart when the movie opens. SEAR Ronin Brash ambitious. Joe March is already in New York pursuing her dream of being in a writer the first scene finds her meeting with a publisher. A sly tracy letts and arguing over the plot and the fee of a story. She submitted Joe. Joe Is treated as a stand in for alcott herself who also had to negotiate to protect her work right from the start. Gerwig makes clear that this will be a story about the limited the opportunities that were then available to women especially women artists. That's also true of Joe's youngest sister. Amy Played by a vicious Florence pugh. She's in Paris studying to be a painter but she knows she'll have to marry well to secure her future. While there she runs into Lori perfectly played by Timothy Chaumet in full tussled heartthrob mode. They argue over the subject of marriage and a wealthy young suitor. Who's been courting amy? I've always known I would marry rich. Why should I be ashamed of that? Need to be shamed of as long as you love. Well I believe we have some power who we love. It isn't something that just happens to a person. I think the poets might disagree. Well I'm not a poet. I'm just a woman and as a woman. There's no way for me to make my I own money not enough to earn a living or to support my family. And if I had my own money which I don't that money would belong. Belong to my husband the moment we got married and if we had children they would be his not mine they would be his property. So don't sit there and tell me that marriage is an economic proposition opposition. Because it is may not be for you but it most certainly is for me by contrast the eldest March sister. Meg played by Emma Watson Watson with her husband John for love and doesn't regret it despite their everyday struggles with money they still live in their Massachusetts hometown. Asked us the shy I Beth. March played by Eliza scanlon. WHO's already sick and growing steadily weaker? Although no prior familiarity with little women is necessary to enjoy this movie. Gerwig knows that many in the audience will know the story well and that's why she feels liberated tell it as irreverently as she does here after her following the grownups sisters separately for a while she takes us back to their girlhood years when they were all under the same roof. There's the party where Joe meets and dances with Lori. The Time Amy Burns Joe's manuscript out of spite the kindness of Laurie's grandfather sweetly played by Chris. Cooper who gives Beth his piano. There is the warm angering presence of Laura dern as the sisters loving mother Marmi and also the sour condescension of Meryl Streep as their rich imperious aunt march. These moments overlap with later ones including Joe's spirited literary arguments with a professor in New York. Played by the brooding French charmer. Louis Got Al Has Ladybird GERWIG racist through every scene with a furious velocity she combines overlapping dialogue warling camerawork work and quick cuts to exhilarating effect. You feel as if you're in the room with these characters swept up in their domestic dramas at the same time. There's something I'm deeply piercing about. The Way Gerwig keeps flashing backward and forward so that past and present seem to be echoing each other while the structure takes some getting used to it it begins to pay off emotionally in a way that I've never seen little women do before the happy moments feel all the more fleeting the tragic ones all the more inevitable Emma Watson and Elisa scam and make a lovely Megan Beth but their characters feel secondary by design. This little women is a fierce tug of war between Joe and Amy Amy and Syria Ronin and Florence. PUGH are blazingly good as two highly competitive sisters who are more alike than they care to admit both are equally determined hermit to forge their own paths in art and in love speaking of love alcott famously had a different ending in mind from the more conventional romantic antic one. She was pressured into writing by her readers and her publisher one hundred fifty years later. GERWIG sets out to gently redress that wrong. With a a clever Meta fictional twist that both honors and subverts the original it's enormously satisfying to seek gerwig bridge the gap between the expectations of readers then and the desires of audiences. Now she hasn't just made little women her own. She's made a movie that rightly belongs to all of us. Justin Chang is a film critic for the L. A. Times Justin. We'll be back on Monday. Show along with our TV critic. David Bean Cooley. When we look back at the year in movies listen television till each have their ten best lists? You might want to catch some of their favorites during the holidays. I hope you can join us. Fresh Air's executive producer is Danny Miller. Our our technical director and engineer is Audrey Bentham with additional engineering support from Joyce Lieberman and Julian Herzfeld our associate producer for digital media is Molly Seavy Nesper for Theresa Madden directed today show. We'll end with the Hoagy Carmichael Song. Winter Moon from an album of winter songs featuring singer Rebecca Kilgore with the band. Echoes Gustav Schwab. When do you recall in this love? There's some aw Oh winter up there in. Are you as lonely took.

Coming up next