The Anarchist Cookbook

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The Anarchist Cookbook
Author William Powell
Country United States
Language English
Publisher Lyle Stuart
Publication date
Media type Print
ISBN 0-9623032-0-8
OCLC 120422

The Anarchist Cookbook, first published in 1971,[1] is a book that contains instructions for the manufacture of explosives, rudimentary telecommunications phreaking devices, and other items. The book also includes instructions for home manufacturing of illicit drugs, including LSD. It was written by William Powell at the apex of the counterculture era in order to protest against United States involvement in the Vietnam War.[2]

Publication status[edit]

The copyright of the book never belonged to its author, but to its publisher Lyle Stuart.[2] Stuart kept publishing the book until the company was bought in 1991 by Steven Schragis, who decided to drop it. Out of the 2,000 books published by the company, it was the only one that Schragis decided to stop publishing. Schragis said publishers have a responsibility to the public, and the book had no positive social purpose that could justify keeping it in print.[3] In December 2013, it was reported that the copyright had been bought in 2002 by Delta Press, an Arkansas-based publisher that specialises in controversial books, and the book is their "most-asked-for volume".[4]

The latest publication date is October 16, 2012 (ISBN 978-1607965237), and the book is available in both paperback and hardback from Snowball Publishing.[5] Reviewers say the copy has its basis in a 2002 revision and shows heavy editing and many items removed over the original 1971 edition.[6]


Since writing the book, Powell converted to Anglicanism in 1976 and attempted to have the book removed from circulation.[7][8] When Lyle Stuart published the book, its copyright was taken out in the publisher's name, not Powell's, and the current publisher had no desire to remove the book from print. Powell has written his desire to see it removed from circulation,[2] as he stopped advocating what he had written.

On 19 December 2013, William Powell wrote an article in The Guardian to call for the book to "quickly and quietly go out of print".[9] Powell died in July 2016.[10]


At the time of its publication, one Federal Bureau of Investigation memo described The Anarchist Cookbook as "one of the crudest, low-brow, paranoiac writing efforts ever attempted".[11]

In 2010, the FBI released the bulk of its investigative file on The Anarchist Cookbook.[12][13]


Advocates of anarchism dispute the association of the book with anarchist political philosophy. The anarchist collective CrimethInc., which published the book Recipes for Disaster: An Anarchist Cookbook in response, denounces the earlier book, saying it was "not composed or released by anarchists, not derived from anarchist practice, not intended to promote freedom and autonomy or challenge repressive power – and was barely a cookbook, as most of the recipes in it are notoriously unreliable".[14]

Online presence[edit]

Much of the publication was copied and made available as text documents online[15] through Usenet and FTP sites hosted in academic institutions in the early 1990s, and has been made available via web browsers from their inception in the mid-1990s to the present day. The name varies slightly from Anarchist Cookbook to Anarchy Cookbook and the topics have expanded vastly in the intervening decades. Many of the articles were attributed to an anonymous author called The Jolly Roger.

In 2001, British businessman Terrance Brown created the now defunct website and sold copies of his derivative work, entitled Anarchist Cookbook 2000.

Knowledge of the book, or copied online publications of it, increased along with the increase in public access to the Internet throughout the mid-1990s. Newspapers ran stories about how easy the text was to get hold of, and the influence it may have had with terrorists, criminals and experimental teenagers.[15]


The book was refused classification by the Office of Film and Literature Classification upon release, thus making the book banned in Australia. It was classified RC again on 31 October 2016.[16][17]

In 2007, a 17-year-old was arrested in the United Kingdom and faced charges under anti-terrorism law in the UK for possession of this book, among other things.[18] He was cleared of all charges in October 2008, after arguing that he was a prankster who just wanted to research fireworks and smoke bombs.[19]

In County Durham, UK in 2010, Ian Davison and his son were imprisoned under anti-terrorism laws for the manufacturing of ricin, and their possession of The Anarchist Cookbook, along with its availability, was noted by the authorities.[20]

In 2013, renewed calls were made in the United States to ban this book, citing links to a school shooting in Colorado by Karl Pierson.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Anarchist Cookbook LoC entry". Retrieved May 15, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c Mieszkowski, Katharine (September 18, 2000). "Blowing up The Anarchist Cookbook". Retrieved 2 July 2016. 
  3. ^ "The happy hawker", New York Magazine, 25 (1), p. 46, 1992-01-06 
  4. ^ a b Dokoupil, Tony (17 December 2013). "After latest shooting, murder manual author calls for book to be taken 'immediately' out of print". NBC News. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ The Anarchist Cookbook [Hardcover] 2012, 2012-10-16 
  7. ^ Saner, Emine. "Why the author of The Anarchist Cookbook wants it taken off the shelves". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 May 2014. 
  8. ^ William, Powell. "From the Author". Retrieved 27 July 2015. 
  9. ^ "I wrote the Anarchist Cookbook in 1969. Now I see its premise as flawed". The Guardian. 19 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  10. ^ Deborah Young (2 September 2016). "'American Anarchist': Venice Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 20 October 2016. 
  11. ^ Walker, Jesse (2011-02-16) The FBI on The Anarchist Cookbook, Reason
  12. ^ FBI Files on the Anarchist Cookbook Retrieved on February 14, 2011
  13. ^ Mirror of "FBI Files on the Anarchist Cookbook" Retrieved on July 24, 2013
  14. ^ The Guardian, September 2004, as quoted at CWC Books : Recipes For Disaster Retrieved on November 22, 2007
  15. ^ a b The Kernel
  16. ^ "Banned Books in Australia: A Selection". University of Melbourne. 
  17. ^ "THE ANARCHIST COOKBOOK". Classification Board. Australian Government. October 31, 2016. Retrieved November 5, 2016. 
  18. ^ "Boy in court on terror charges. A British teenager who is accused of possessing material for terrorist purposes has appeared in court". BBC News. 2007-10-05. 
  19. ^ "Teenage bomb plot accused cleared. Two teenagers who were accused of discussing a plot to blow up British National Party (BNP) members have been cleared of terror charges". BBC News. 2008-10-23. 
  20. ^ "County Durham terror plot father and son are jailed". BBC News. 2010-05-14. 

External links[edit]