Secret Societies and Clubs in American History
by David Luhrssen
September 2015, 290pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-59884-903-5
$70, £54, 61€, A96
eBook Available: 978-1-59884-904-2
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

An inordinate number of America’s founding fathers were Masons.

Grounded in extensive historical research, this eye-opening survey reveals the long-undervalued role secret societies have played in American history.

Americans are fascinated by secret societies and have devoured exaggerated claims for their influence. At the same time, scholarly assessments of covert groups that have shaped American social, cultural, and political history have often undervalued their role or even questioned their existence.

This survey challenges both the exaggerators and the deniers. Freemasons? They may not be the hidden rulers of the world, but a significant number of America’s founders were Masons. The Know Nothings? Two American presidents joined the movement. The Bohemian Grove? Republican politicians and corporate leaders really did engage in strange behavior under the redwood trees through the 20th century.

Revealing fascinating facts about some of the most talked-about covert societies, including the Mafia, the Skull and Bones and the Ku Klux Klan, Secret Societies and Clubs in American History exposes the truth about the subcultures that made their mark on some of the most important events in the nation’s history and contributed to the shaping of the country itself.


  • Based on scholarly research, this book appeals to both academics and the general public
  • Sheds light on familiar figures from American history
  • Includes photographs
David Luhrssen is the editor of the Shepherd Express newspaper. His published works include Hammer of the Gods: The Thule Society and the Birth of Nazism and Mamoulian: Life on Stage and Screen. He is the coauthor of Elvis Presley: Reluctant Rebel and A Time of Paradox: America Since 1890. His work has appeared in the Journal of American History, History Today, Historically Speaking, and other journals. He holds degrees in history from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.


"The book’s strengths are its superb research, many useful illustrations, straightforward narrative, wide embrace, and frequent tie-ins with cinema."—Shepherd Express, December 3, 2015
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