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Is it time to shelve The Anarchist Cookbook?


The Anarchist Cookbook for blog

William Powell, the author of The Anarchist Cookbook, has asked for the infamous book to go out-of-print.

Forty-four years ago this month, in December 1969, I quit my job as a manager of a bookstore in New York City’s Greenwich Village and began to write The Anarchist Cookbook. My motivation at the time was simple; I was being actively pursued by the US military, who seemed single-mindedly determined to send me to fight, and possibly die, in Vietnam.

I wanted to publish something that would express my anger. It seems that I succeeded in ways that far exceeded what I imagined possible at the time. The Cookbook is still in print 40 years after publication, and I am told it has sold in excess of 2m copies.

I have never held the copyright, and so the decision to continue publishing it has been in the hands of the publisher. I now find myself arguing for it to be quickly and quietly taken out of print.

Powell became a teacher and it’s his knowledge of children that spurred him on to make this latest plea. The dust jacket of the original edition states the book is not for “children or morons.”

The Cookbook has been found in the possession of alienated and disturbed young people who have launched attacks against classmates and teachers. I suspect that the perpetrators of these attacks did not feel much of a sense of belonging, and the Cookbook may have added to their sense of isolation.

The book, first published in 1971,  contains instructions for bomb making and recipes for LSD,  and has never been far from controversy. Snowball Publishing is currently the publisher and today’s edition is different to the 1971 original.

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