|Ken Shirriff -> Anarchy -> Anarchist Cookbook FAQ|
|What was the motivation of the Anarchist Cookbook author?|
I was Bill Powell's roommate and close friend during the 60's when Bill wrote the book. Bill and I were working for Bookmasters, an independent bookstore chain that is no longer in business. Bill was 19 when he wrote book.
The idea of the Anarchist Cookbook was originally conceived as a series of recipes in the form of broadsides that would be pasted up all over Manhattan. Recipe #1 would be a how to for a molotov cocktail, #2 - how to make LSD, etc. The idea was never acted upon. It grew from discussions at the IWW headquarters in NYC (4th Street between C and D); this apartment also housed Resurgent Youth, and the League for Sexual Freedom. I lived there for several years before moving out and into an apartment on 10th Street between First and A with Bill.
He liked the idea and one day quit his job and started on the book. He got all his information from manuals at the public library and current magazines. Most of the stories and anecdotes were made up. Bill was never an Anarchist and had no philosophy. We had a few large arguments after I read the early drafts of the book.
At any rate he sent this out to every publisher he could find. The rejection slips were fascinating. Some were actually apologetic because they couldn't publish the book. Lyle Stuart published the book for a number of reasons. At the time Librarians across the US were being intimidated by the FBI and CIA who wanted to get names of people checking out books they felt were subversive. Lyle Stuart felt that publishing this book would make those efforts meaningless since people could simply buy the book without signing for it. Anyway Lyle did publish the book.
In my opinion the event of publishing the book was important. The contents are garbage. This was a very dangerous and brave publishing act for the 1960's.
Bill moved to Putney, VT, married, had a baby, divorced, became a right wing reactionary voice in the local college. He was in Alaska briefly working as a timekeeper in Valdez on the pipeline. I later heard that he was teaching English in Saudi Arabia.
The concept was Anarchism but the book is nihilism. He took the idea and assembled a book from other books. The rewrite consisted of replacing all photos and drawings from their sources with drawings and paraphrasing a lot of material. Lyle used it to negate FBI and CIA efforts to get names of book readers.
Ken Shirriff: firstname.lastname@example.org This page: http://www.righto.com/anarchy/author.html