Anarchist Cookbook author's decades-long struggle to bury his book


In 1971 William Powell, then 19 years old, wrote a how-to guide to making explosives, weapons, and drugs called The Anarchist Cookbook. A few years later a hijacker made a bomb from a recipe in the book that killed a police officer and injured three others.

Powell has been trying to get his book out of print ever since. It's hopeless, because it is easily downloaded from any number of websites.

From Gabriel Thompson's article in Harper's, "Burn After Reading"

Powell researched the other sections at the main branch of the New York Public Library, flipping through the card catalogue and returning with books such as the U.S. Army Field Manual for Physical Safety and Homemade Bombs and Explosives. He holed up in the building for months, reading about wristlocks and tear gas and nitroglycerine. Most of the book is a cut-and-paste creation; when Powell's voice does emerge beneath the technical-manual speak, it's usually in the form of a cocky young man trying to sound streetwise beyond his years. About explosives, he wrote: "This chapter is going to kill and maim more people than all the rest put together, because people just refuse to take things seriously."