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John J. Binder

John J. Binder on one of his many, many appearances on the gangster era documentary.
This one was for History Channel's Man, Moment and Machine.

If this website has anyone to thank for getting me into this hobby, and thus leading it to being what this site has become today, then the thanks should be given to two authors and historians. These two gentlemen peaked my curiosity about the gangster subject those many years ago, while watching the History Channel. One is Bill Helmer and the other is John J. Binder. Both had appeared on the St. Valentine's Day Massacre documentary that was fittingly narrated by Paul Sorvino. Both were very giving of their time and advice. Both historians were eager to help with documents and photos helping to tell the story. They took the time and were very patient to explain the Chicago gangster history.

Gangster Tour
From Chicago's Prohibition era to Chicago's later mobsters, be sure to contact John Binder at
He can take even take you on a custom tour not normally shown by others. For the beginner or the real serious gangster buff.

Mr. Binder gave me some great advice at that time and because of this, I even had the chance of appearing on a documentary with him. Stick true to the topic, research and research again.  
It's made me keep my site as accurate as possible, through the expertise of Mr. Binder along with all of the other combined historians, crimebuffs and authors out there.
Many thanks to all those who helped along the way.

Mr. Binder has always took the time to interchange in this hobby and has kept it fun all of these years for all the history crime buffs.

Mr. Binder has written quite a few articles on the Chicago mob past and present. His advice is always sought out whenever a new gangster book or documentary is in production.
He has written an excellent book called "The Chicago Outfit" with amazing treasure trove of rare Capone gangster era photos, and later interesting snaps of Chicago outfit members.

Mr. Binder has also an amazing collection of gangster photos past and present.

John J. Binder on Lucasfilms documentary for The Young Indiana Jones.

Book by Mr. John J. Binder.

The Chicago Outfit

by John Binder
Written by's own John Binder. This is the book that all of our site users have been waiting for.

Book summary:
Containing approximately 20000 words and 180 photos, The Chicago Outfit is the only complete history of the Mob in Chicago -- from the late 1800s to the present. It includes a variety of new information on the subject, debunking a number of the myths that have arisen about organized crime in Chicago, and concludes with an evaluation of why the Outfit has been the most successful of the Cosa Nostra families and why it has declined since the 1950s.

Many of the photos are unique and are published here for the first time, including photos showing prominent Chicago gangsters at relaxation as well as mug shots, line-up pictures and death scenes.

If you would like an author signed copy, please send $23.00 ($20 cover price plus S+H for U. S. addresses -- S+H (airmail) is more for other countries) to:

John Binder
1422 N. Monroe
River Forest, IL 60305,

along with your address and who the book should be inscribed to.

Thanks much,
John Binder

Al Capone's Beer Wars:
 A Complete History of Organized Crime in Chicago during Prohibition
(June 2017)

Although much has been written about Al Capone, there has not been--until now--a complete history of organized crime in Chicago during Prohibition. This exhaustively researched book covers the entire period from 1920 to 1933. Author John J. Binder, a recognized authority on the history of organized crime in Chicago, discusses all the important bootlegging gangs in the city and the suburbs and also examines the other major rackets, such as prostitution, gambling, labor and business racketeering, and narcotics.

A major focus is how the Capone gang -- one of twelve major bootlegging mobs in Chicago at the start of Prohibition--gained a virtual monopoly over organized crime in northern Illinois and beyond. Binder also describes the fight by federal and local authorities, as well as citizens' groups, against organized crime. In the process, he refutes numerous myths and misconceptions related to the Capone gang, other criminal groups, the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, and gangland killings.

What emerges is a big picture of how Chicago's underworld evolved during this period. This broad perspective goes well beyond Capone and specific acts of violence and brings to light what was happening elsewhere in Chicagoland and after Capone went to jail.

Based on 25 years of research and using many previously unexplored sources, this fascinating account of a bloody and colorful era in Chicago history will become the definitive work on the subject.

New non gangster Book by Mr. John J. Binder.


Sarah Jennings, a student at fictional Oak Stream high school just west of Chicago, has a problem. She's terrified that she might not get into an elite university. So she decides to apply to the top 100 colleges in the country -- plus her safety school.
But the craziness is just beginning as Sarah tackles this Herculean task the fall semester of her senior year. When not helping her, Sarah's best friends Rob Taylor and Carrie Wilson deal with their own issues. Carrie's overbearing mother decided at birth that she would attend MIT, where the family has been schooled for generations, even though Carrie has serious doubts about going there. Rob, who has already applied to nine schools, embraces his Potawatomi heritage midway through the fall and legally changes his name to Running Elk Taylor. He then reapplies to the same schools as a Native American while resubmitting the otherwise identical paperwork.
Spring semester is a whirl of bizarre campus visits along with the anxiety of waiting to hear from the universities, which are making their own very surreal decisions behind closed doors. But things are not any easier once the trio learns where they have been accepted because they still have to decide which school to attend. In the end, they and their circle of friends all find the place that is right for them, as opposed to what other people think is right, and learn a bit about life and themselves in the process. Which gives the story several morals that will make college applicants, as well as their parents, teachers and guidance counselors, look at the process in a completely different way.

John Binder is a professor and former administrator at a university in the Chicago area. His previous book, The Chicago Outfit (Arcadia Publishing, 2003), deals with rackets other than higher education. This book was written partly to help put his children through college.


“Imaginative writing is reflected in a not so far-fetched humorous story that many of us could easily identify with as we watched our own kids make college decisions.” - Emanuel D. Pollack, Senior Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago
“It’s Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? meets Confederacy of Dunces -- with some Sixteen Candles, Animal House and even Three Stooges thrown in for good measure. Which equals a ton of laughs. Ultimately though the ridiculous accentuates the positive because there’s a moral or two here for not only the college applicants but also their overzealous parents and the people in university admissions.” – Tim Weithers, Associate Director, Graduate Program in Financial Mathematics, University of Chicago.
“John Binder has captured the essence of the college admissions process, from an entirely different angle, and consequently this book is interesting as well as informative. The author uses his experience as both a father, who watched his children apply to college, and as a university administrator, who ran a graduate program including the admissions office, to carefully explore a
complicated subject. There are important points to ponder here, even if you don’t agree with all of them, for anyone who has ever been involved with college applications and admissions, including the overwrought parents of the applicants.

"Some students get bogged down trying to begin their college application procedure, others in selecting the right schools and completing the applications. Institutions get bogged down in various phases of the review, acceptance and admissions decision making. No one will get bogged down reading this book – although you might laugh so hard that you will hurt yourself.” – Walter H. Washington, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs (retired), College of Business Administration, University of Illinois at Chicago.
“Entertaining and thought provoking.” – Jessica Young, History teacher, Oak Park-River Forest High School.
“An interesting glance at the contemporary high school experience.” – Brendan Lee, English teacher, Oak Park-River Forest High School.

To order a signed/inscribed copy directly from the author, please send $18 (includes S&H), along with your name and address and any desired inscription to:

John J. Binder
1422 Monroe Avenue
River Forest, IL 60305

Please allow 14 days for delivery.
Questions? Contact the author at
The book is also available in both printed and electronic form at