Devil's Pact: Inside the World of the Teamsters Union

F. C. Duke Zeller, Author Carol Publishing Corporation $24.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-55972-384-8
Zeller was in charge of public relations for the Teamsters for 14 years and adviser to four union presidents, although his memoirs focus on the late 1980s and the troubled reign of Jackie Presser, a man he believed--perhaps foolishly--was a friend, with whom he had an ""improbable father-son relationship."" Presser was both a secret FBI informant and a Mafia crony, and he used the two groups to work his way to the top. But once in power he began to fear them both, with good reason. Zeller is a lively, chatty writer, but his story is at times numbingly thick with byzantine plots of office politics pushed to murderous extremes. One chapter covers gossip he heard about various violent deaths: JFK's, Hoffa's, Marilyn Monroe's. Another deals with the union's Hollywood activities, including its relationship with Sylvester Stallone. There's a good deal of national politics: Reagan was seen (wrongly, it turned out) as a friend who could be trusted not to look into mob connections; Kemp was judged a future president worth encouraging. Even before Presser's slow death from cancer, internal warfare for control of the union began, and continues today as various ""reform"" factions seek control. When Zeller came to suspect that his own life was in danger, he quit and went to work for Bush's election campaign. Perhaps the book's most unexpected aspect is Zeller's matter-of-fact revelation of his homosexuality; he resists any temptation to write an I Was a Gay Teamster expose. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/1996
Release date: 10/01/1996
Genre: Nonfiction
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