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November 10, 2021 65 min

What’s the history of associations and powerful internal groups in American life? On this episode of Now & Then, “Associations: From the Masons to the Mob,” Heather Cox Richardson and Joanne Freeman discuss the popularity of the Freemasons and other secret clubs among the early national elite, the growth of political machines like Tammany Hall during the 1800s, and the development of organized crime during Prohibition. Then, Elie Honig, the host of Up Against the Mob and a former mafia prosecutor, joins Heather and Joanne to discuss the origins and goals of the controversial Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, which Congress passed in 1970 to go after nefarious associations. When do associations promote democracy? When do they become problematic? And how should law enforcement guard against dangerous associations? 

Listen to all six episodes of CAFE’s Up Against the Mob podcast, hosted by Elie Honig:

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Join CAFE Insider to listen to “Backstage,” where Heather and Joanne chat each week about the anecdotes and ideas that formed the episode. And for a limited time, use the code HISTORY for 50% off the annual membership price. Head to:


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