Books by Martin Jay Levitt

Released: Sept. 8, 1993

A tough-minded memoir of a clever, driven operator in a nasty profession. When the 17-year-old Levitt found Teamster goons knocking his uncle around in his father's Cleveland comic-book distributorship, he fetched his father's gun and held it on four of the hoodlums until the cops arrived. Later, as Cleveland mobsters became dominant union figures, Levitt became a resourceful opponent. Restless and with a knack for business, he began a successful executive recruitment business, but an ad placed by John Sheridan, acknowledged ``King of the Union Busters,'' drew him to higher stakes. Levitt worked not as muscle but as a computer-oriented organizer and propagandist who directed company efforts to frustrate union organizers. Working in industries from coal mines to airlines and restaurants, he refined his sense of how to remain technically within the law while demoralizing less sophisticated opponents. His picture of his cynical, hard-drinking world is hard to forget, and the despotic owners are well drawn—splenetic, insulting Ed Daly of World Airways, with his huge, exotic office (liquor bottles open on the desk) and terrifying rages, is particularly memorable. An effective huckster, Levitt distributed disinformation, blackmailed key employees with the consequences of noncooperation, and used a grimly comedic creative streak to distract workers from their vital interests (at one point, he persuaded an employee to streak an aircraft hanger stark-naked in return for ballots). Levitt tells of his personal life as well—of his climb to a six-figure income, and of his descent into alcoholism, defeated by guilt and inner turmoil about a way of life he couldn't bear to think about. An ugly mea culpa—but a useful corrective to the vast negative publicity routinely accorded unions. (Film rights sold to HBO) Read full book review >