FBI releases files on controversial booksellers Paladin and Loompanics

catalogsforbookspaladinloompanics.jpg The FBI has released its files on two famously controversial publishers, Paladin Press and Loompanics Unlimited, following a FOIA request filed by Government Attic. The files suggest that the booksellers' huge libraries of books on drugs, guns and other ultra-libertarian issues only rarely drew the FBI's attention.
Though their catalogs were similar, Loompanics stood out for its countercultural style, whereas Paladin specialized in republishing declassified military guidebooks and the like. When Loompanics wound up operations in 2006, Paladin acquired part of its back catalog. The FBI's files on Paladin Press date back some forty years, and reveal an early 1970s investigation into the classification status of the U.S. government materials that Paladin republished. Since then, however, the release shows that the bureau took little interest in it except to execute procedural inquiries on behalf of foreign investigators. The Loompanics file is much the same. Concluding that the organization and its publications were legal, the FBI only revisited it to conduct inquiries triggered by hand-wringers and foreign cops. Paladin Highlights • In the early 1970s, the FBI looked into of how Paladon got hold of various government documents. A la "Wow, we declassified that? Huh." • In 1983, a recipient of an unsolicited catalog for Paladin's books sends an angry letter to their senator, expressing disbelief "that something like this could exist in this country." The senator asks the FBI to investigate it "because of the desire of my office to be responsibe to all inquiries." The FBI: "Our review failed to find any violation of federal law ... the Paladin press has been brought to our attention in the past." • After a Paladin video tape was found in the possession of a murder victim in Liverpool in 1997, the coppers there ask the U.S. Embassy if these guys ship guns or silencers to England or something. The FBI checks it out. Paladin says it only sells media, and refuses to provide general customer info on privacy grounds, but will do so for specifically-named suspects or victims. Once given the info, it reports that it has no records of any of them. • Australia gets upset when Paladin republishes stuff from its classified military manuals. The resulting FBI investigation asks Paladin, where did you get that? Paladin says it bought the original manuals in a bookstore in Sidney, Australia. The FBI takes a motrin and fixes itself a drink. Loompanics Highlights • A typical FBI response to an inquiry from whomever: "AGAIN THIS IS NOT CLASSIFIED OR RESTRICTED MATERIAL ... THESE ITEMS ARE POSSIBLY OF INTEREST TO TERRORISTS OR EXTREMISTS, BUT, AS ALL ARE IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN OF THE U.S., POSSESSION OF SUCH ITEMS CONSTITUTE NO VIOLATION OF LAW." • In 1984, the FBI interviewed the "owner" of Loompanics (i.e. Mike Hoy) in order to identify a particular subscriber to Loompanics who was a suspect in a criminal investigation. He was concerned about government intervention in his business but "reluctantly" advised that in order to get on the subscriber list, you had to buy a book. The FBI concluded that he violated no laws through the operation of his mail-order bookselling business. • In the 1980s, police in Germany make an inquiry about the origins of Loompanics materials owned by locals who, "with the help of these materials ... have been attempting to create dissention." The books were "Total Resistance", "Psychedelic Chemistry" and "CIA Improvised Sabotage Devices". You can download the files at Government Attic's Department of Justice documents page.


  1. Indeed, it’s good to hear stories of law enforcement actually doing their job professionally and well for a change :-)

  2. The Loompanics catalog was always entertaining reading, just for the titles alone. One of my favorites was “Where There Is No Dentist,” which turned out to be a very noble book about providing proper oral care in remote areas.

    1. The Hitch Hiker’s Handbook is another Loompanics classic. Not a handbook for the sociopath, like certain other titles, but an excellent guide for anyone who for whatever reason becomes shit-poor.

  3. ISTRT Paladin used to offer the catchily-titled How To Kill Volumes 1-6, which was packed with suggestions ranging from the ultra-stealthy (injections via the navel are difficult to spot) to the deeply non-fuck-giving (if it doesn’t matter that it’s clear your target has been murdered, hitting them in the face with a primed bear trap is astonishingly effective).

  4. Two of my favorite titles were: “Home Workshop Explosives” and “Operating Clandestine Drug Labs”, both by (iirc) “Uncle Fester”. I personally never tried anything within those books, but dang, they sure did start some conversations.

  5. I liked ‘Expedient Homemade Firearms: the 9mm Submachine Gun’ by P.A. Luty, and of course John Hoffman’s ‘Art and Science of Dumpster Diving.’

  6. Least inflammatory exposé of an FBI investigation I’ve seen in a long time. Almost as if it’s part of a coverup!! When will they declassify the files on the declassification of these files???

  7. Wow, if I’d known that The Man showed so little interest I’d have bought fewer Loompanics books. I really thought I was sticking it to ’em back then.

    Man, I miss Loompanics.

  8. I miss Loompanics as well. My first copies of the Principia Discordia and many of Robert Anton Wilson’s books were ordered from there.

  9. Small typo:
    “In the early 1970s, the FBI looked into of how Paladon got hold of various government documents. A la “Wow, we declassified that? Huh.”

    Will be reporting that to the FBI.

  10. From Paladin press: the “CIA Field-Expedient Guide to Explosives” (two thin volumes) was a particular favorite. And yes, some recipes did actually produce results. Fun times…

  11. In the 1980s, police in Germany make an inquiry about the origins of Loompanics materials owned by locals who, “with the help of these materials … have been attempting to create dissention.”

    As we all know, back in the 80s there were two Germanys. Going back to the source, this was the West German police. At first that surprised me. But it turns out that the quote in the post omits a key fact — the people the potential West Germans criminals were trying to rile up were “US military forces members stationed in West Berlin.” Allegedly they were also trying to get more US GI’s hooked on “illegal narcotics.”

    Ah, the good old days of the Cold War.

  12. Of course the sanity of the FBI did’t prevent Paladin from being sued in civil court.

  13. I miss Loompanics. They had the kind of stuff Paladin had, but a much wider variety. I also think my first Principia Discordia came from there.

  14. Ah, memories. The Loompanics and Paladin Press catalogs (and later, the vast, all-encompassing Amok Press catalog) were an amazing source of forbidden ideas. I still remember laughing at the How to Kill series, plus, my favorite, How to Rip Off a Drug Dealer for Fun and Profit. They definitely hinted at a darker, more outlaw existence — and provided sourcebooks for those who sought it.

    On the other hand, I remember reading an article somewhere about a middle-aged housewife who wrote several of the assassination guides, drawing on her imagination and old episodes of TV cop shows…

    How far we’ve come in the ‘Net age.

    1. The funny part is “How to Kill” that everyone thinks is so absurd is based on real assassinations carried out in Vietnam. The guy who wrote it was a real CIA office and served carryout

  15. Pre-9/11 (or, more specifically, pre-patriot act) America was just the best.

    I hope we remember what it’s like to be sane once more.

    God bless the first amendment, god bless America.

    1. Pre-9/11 (or, more specifically, pre-patriot act) America was just the best.

      Let’s not get too nostalgic here. This was the same FBI that was behind the siege at Waco and kept tabs on Martin Luther King Jr.’s sex life, after all.

    1. Though Delta press doesn’t carry anything I would regard as sensitive even in the post 9/11 world.

      You can find loom panics and paladin’s press entire library on bittorrent

  16. wow Paladin press has many good books on Western martial arts mainly long sword good stuff

    1. Be wary, Paladin’s books on sword arts range from quite good to quite awful hitting every point in the range.

  17. Anon – I too am surprised…that was an incredible case. Folks, look it up if you don’t remember.

  18. The reason the FBI had little on the book publisher is the owner of booth publishers were CIA spooks. Do a bit of google digging and you’ll find out. The person who published “50 ways to kill” that everyone thought was really far fetched was just publishing techniques he used in Vietnam when he was running assassinations for the Central Intelligence Agency.

    I own about 30 of Paladin’s books and a bunch of loom panics as paperbacks that I bought, though if you want these days you can find a torrent with about 300 of them.

    Most of the books published by these to hauses were given to Law Enforcement Agencies or written with a clandestine service in mind. Many of the books (at first) were refused to be sold unless you knew the owner or were LEO.

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