Author William Powell
Country United States
Language English
Genre Instructional
Publisher Lyle Stuart
Publication date 1971
ISBN ISBN 0-9623032-0-8
OCLC Number 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 United States involvement in the Vietnam War.[2]



Post-release history

Since writing the book, Powell has converted to Anglican Christianity and has attempted to have the book removed from circulation.[3] When the book was published by Lyle Stuart, the copyright was taken out in the publisher's name, not his, and the current publisher had no desire to remove the book from print. Powell has since created many websites devoted to the book, explaining his desire to see it removed from circulation[2] as he no longer advocates what he had written. He wrote on one of those websites:

The book, in many respects, was a misguided product of my adolescent anger at the prospect of being drafted and sent to Vietnam to fight in a war that I did not believe in.[3]

At the time of its publication, one Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) memo described The Anarchist Cookbook as "one of the crudest, low-brow, paranoiac writing efforts ever attempted."[4]

In 2009 the magazine Vice published a brief history of the book as well as excerpted recipes. The magazine's associate network,, also broadcast a documentary on the subject.[5]

In 2010, the FBI released the bulk of its investigative file on The Anarchist Cookbook.[6][7]

Relationship to anarchism

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."[8]

Legality and the alleged relationship to terrorism

In 2007, a seventeen-year-old was arrested in Britain and faced charges under Terrorism Law in the UK for possession of this book, among other things.[9] He was cleared of all charges in October 2008, after alleging that he was a prankster who just wanted to research fireworks and smoke bombs.[10]

More recently, 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.[11]

In 2013 renewed calls were made in the United States of America for this book to be banned, citing links to a school shooting in Colorado by Karl Pierson[12]. 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".[13]

Publication status

The copyright of the book no longer belongs 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 that publishers have a responsibility to the public, and that the book had no positive social purpose that could justify keeping it in print.[14] 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 that the book is their "most-asked-for volume". [12]

The latest publication date is October 16, 2012 (ISBN 978-1607965237) and available in both paperback and hardback from Snowball Publishing. Reviewers say the copy has its basis in a 2002 revision and shows heavy editing and many items removed over the original 1971 edition.[15]


  1. Jump up ^ "The Anarchist Cookbook LoC entry". Retrieved May 15, 2010.
  2. ^ Jump up to: a b c Mieszkowski, Katharine (September 18, 2000). "Blowing up The Anarchist Cookbook". Retrieved October 17, 2009.
  3. ^ Jump up to: a b Powell, William. "From the Author". Retrieved 2009-12-24.
  4. Jump up ^ Walker, Jesse (2011-02-16) The FBI on The Anarchist Cookbook, Reason
  5. Jump up ^ TECH-ARCHY- Beyond the Pages of the Anarchist Cookbook Vice. April 2009
  6. Jump up ^ FBI Files on the Anarchist Cookbook Retrieved on February 14, 2011
  7. Jump up ^ Mirror of "FBI Files on the Anarchist Cookbook" Retrieved on July 24, 2013
  8. Jump up ^ The Guardian, September 2004, as quoted at CWC Books : Recipes For Disaster Retrieved on November 22, 2007
  9. Jump up ^ "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.
  10. Jump up ^ "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.
  11. Jump up ^ "County Durham terror plot father and son are jailed". BBC News. 2010-05-14.
  12. ^ Jump up to: a b Dokoupil, Tony. "After latest shooting, murder manual author calls for book to be taken 'immediately' out of print". NBC News, 17 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  13. Jump up ^ "I wrote the Anarchist Cookbook in 1969. Now I see its premise as flawed". The Guardian. 19 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  14. Jump up ^ "The happy hawker", New York Magazine 25 (1), 1992-01-06: 46
  15. Jump up ^ The Anarchist Cookbook [Hardcover] 2012, 2012-10-16