- I have recently been made aware of several websites that
focus on The Anarchist Cookbook. As the author of the original publication
some 30 plus years ago, it is appropriate for me to comment.
- The Anarchist Cookbook was written during 1968 and part
of 1969 soon after I graduated from high school. At the time, I was 19
years old and the Vietnam War and the so-called \223counter culture movement\224
were at their height. I was involved in the anti-war movement and attended
numerous peace rallies and demonstrations. 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.
- I conducted the research for the manuscript on my own,
primarily at the New York City Public Library. Most of the contents were
gleaned from Military and Special Forces Manuals. I was not member of any
radical group of either a left or right wing persuasion.
- I submitted the manuscript directly to a number of publishers
without the help or advice of an agent. Ultimately, it was accepted by
Lyle Stuart Inc. and was published verbatim \226 without editing \226 in
early 1970. Contrary to what is the normal custom, the copyright for the
book was taken out in the name of the publisher rather than the author.
I did not appreciate the significance of this at the time and would only
come to understand it some years later when I requested that the book be
taken out of print.
- The central idea to the book was that violence is an
acceptable means to bring about political change. I no longer agree with
- Apparently in recent years, The Anarchist Cookbook has
seen a number of \221copy cat' type publications, some with remarkably
similar titles (Anarchist Cookbook II, IIIetc). I am not familiar with
these publications and cannot comment upon them. I can say that the original
Anarchist Cookbook has not been revised or updated in any way by me since
it was first published.
- During the years that followed its publication, I went
to university, married, became a father and a teacher of adolescents. These
developments had a profound moral and spiritual effect on me. I found that
I no longer agreed with what I had written earlier and I was becoming increasingly
uncomfortable with the ideas that I had put my name to. In 1976 I became
a confirmed Anglican Christian and shortly thereafter I wrote to Lyle Stuart
Inc. explaining that I no longer held the views that were expressed in
the book and requested that The Anarchist Cookbook be taken out of print.
The response from the publisher was that the copyright was in his name
and therefore such a decision was his to make \226 not the author's. In
the early 1980's, the rights for the book were sold to another publisher.
I have had no contact with that publisher (other than to request that the
book be taken out of print) and I receive no royalties.
- Unfortunately, the book continues to be in print and
with the advent of the Internet several websites dealing with it have emerged.
I want to state categorically that I am not in agreement with the contents
of The Anarchist Cookbook and I would be very pleased (and relieved) to
see its publication discontinued. I consider it to be a misguided and potentially
dangerous publication which should be taken out of print.
- William Powell