Since its publication in 1971, The Anarchist Cookbook has sold over two million copies worldwide, while facing numerous legal challenges to stop printing and criminalize its possession.
The anarchist cookbook has been linked to acts of terror since its release, from Puerto Rican rebels bombing an FBI headquarters in 1981, the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, the Columbine High School shootings and the British manufacture of ricin, a deadly poison in 2010.
Despite this, the book is only banned in Australia. In the United States, The Anarchist Cookbook is protected by the First Amendment and the FBI has ruled that it does not incite “compulsory resistance to any law of the United States”.
Meanwhile, in the UK possession of the publication is not illegal, but may form part of a prosecution case if found with a suspect who may have planned an act of terrorism.
What is the Anarchist Cookbook?
Written by 19-year-old William Powell, the book includes recipes for making explosives, rudimentary telecommunications hacking devices, and instructions for making drugs, including LSD.
Inspired by his anger at President Richard Nixon and the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War, Powell’s goal was to provide the general population with the skills to resist fascist, capitalist, and communist threats.
He said, “The central idea of the book was that violence is an acceptable way to bring about political change”, he renounced this later in life.
Five years after the book’s publication, Powell converted to Anglicanism and made unsuccessful attempts to stop its circulation.
However, the copyright belonged to publisher Lyle Stuart, renowned for his controversial publications, who continued production.
Powell deeply regretted his book and denounced it throughout his life, calling it a “youthful indiscretion”.
The author then found a hard-to-find job after the book’s release and saw him travel to the Middle East, Africa and Asia working for US-supported international schools.
There he wrote about pedagogy and conflict resolution.
In 2011, five years before his death, Powell and his wife Ochan Kusuma-Powell founded a nonprofit organization called Next Frontier: Inclusion.
The charity helps children with developmental and learning disabilities. He described it as a way to atone for writing The Anarchist Cookbook.
Is The Anarchist Cookbook Accurate?
The book’s chapters include detailed descriptions on how to make traps, drugs, tear gas, explosives, homemade weapons, and tips on hand-to-hand combat.
However, many experts have concluded that the “recipes” in the book are potentially very dangerous for an untrained layman to follow.
A comment online said they would strongly advise people to ‘stay away if you like having your limbs’.