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



Where else are you going to learn how to cook banana peels?


I recall one of the editions I downloaded off an old BBS suggested of making Nitroglycerine:

  1. Use an ice-bath.
  2. Add the Nitric to the Hydrochloric, not the other way around.
  3. Dribble in the Glycerine.

I yelled “Ya gotta be kidding me!” and deleted the damn thing.


Ah yes, the BBS-era cookbooks. Possibly some extracts from Powell’s book, but generally just BS that someone heard from a friend of a friend, or just made up, and then slapped the name on it because that made it sound cool.

General distinguishing feature being that they made Powell’s manuscript look safe & well researched by comparison.


When I was a kid, we did not have those fancy Internets. We had to get our recipes for explosives from the National Technical Library.

Tadeusz Urbanski. The memories…


I actually own this book in paperback form. Got it a looong time ago.


When I first read this book in the early '70s, I concluded that it was a false-flag op designed to teach wannabe bomb-throwing anarchists how to blow themselves up.

There’s a lot of genuinely bad advice in that book.


I bought this and found the book kind of funny. Totally had that angry teenager who doesn’t know any better vibe. It also had delightfully outdated advice like “put tape on punch cards to screw up a bank’s computers.”

When I heard about the author trying to ban it, my first thought was how much better it would be for him to write a follow up about the book, why he wrote it, why his views have changed, how the book is bad/dangerous, etc. Get a publisher to bundle it with the Anarchist Cookbook and hopefully interest clueless teenagers into a better way of thinking.

It would certainly be more useful than banning the book outright.


Poor Man’s James Bond was a better cut & paste job :wink:


His angst is silly. Probably more people killed themselves trying the bad recipes than ever did real terrorist activities and those who did kill themselves (if any) simply helped improve the human race. The fact that you have to dig hard tof ind one case where someone did something nasty supposedly based on this book tells you something.

There’s nothing mystical, magical or secret about the things it covers. Hell, a lot of it can be purchased directly from the government. I have an excellent pamphlet on making and using fuel oil/fertilizer explosives I purchased years ago from the GPO produced by the Bureau of Mines for use by farmers and miners in general. Been a while but you used to be able to buy several Army field manuals on booby traps, improvised explosives and other low-tech methods of mayhem. (Piano wire is your friend, just ask anyone who was in the French Resistance back in WW2.)

I always liked the meme that the CIA was behind the book and the recipes were deliberately bad to induce wnnabe terror masters to kill themselves or produce squibs.

You can download a lot of them for free these days.

Finding the list is easy. Finding the given manual is then easy when you know the FM xx-yy designation.

And they are royal fun to read, not just the explosives. The tactics, the weapons manuals (e.g. that the best way to attack a tank with a missile is from the side), the operations in urban terrain, survival in all sorts of environments… Who needs fiction.

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I bought mine at a used book store in a run - down mall in 1986 and still have it.

None of the Anarchist Cookbook recipes my friends and I tried in the 1970s actually harmed us, but I do remember a piece of steel shrapnel flying past my head and embedding an inch into a pine tree behind me at one point, so I suppose it was just luck.


I had this book long ago, but I only bought it to make me feel badass. Then one day I got to thinking, if I ever do Blow Up the Man, my Anarchist Cookbook will be the first evidence introduced at my trial. So I disposed of it steathily, under cover of darkness.

I never did Blow Up the Man.


The library at the University of Texas had this book in its stacks (late-1980s). We figured that checking out the book would quickly and simply result in a mark on one’s Permanent Record. Across the street from the library was a store called The Book Mark that probably sold this book, and definitely carried most if not all of the Loompanics catalog.

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Why do people always want to make nitroglycerine? I know how to make it and that stuff scares the shit out of me. Besides, if you want small-scale demonstration of energetic materials, Nitrogen Triiodide is usually the way to go.

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My most favorite thing is 2,4,6-triamino-1,3,5-trinitrobenzene. Would be my first choice if it comes to picking up an energetic material for an actual deployment.

That thing is stable. You don’t want anything else under your posterior.

Nitroglycerin is on the other side of the spectrum, albeit not on its extreme end. There are way moodier things with even higher arse-pucker factor, funny chemicals that will laugh into your face with the slightest provocation and sometimes without any.

Nitrogen triiodide is just fun. Harmless in milligram amounts. Use thiosulphate to clear the stains; the same chemical used for quantitative reacting of iodine in iodometry.

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A friend of mine said he used that to make exploding fly paper, if I am thinking of the right stuff.

I agree with what other people said about the old Army manuals. We had a couple of those around, and I thought the Air Force survival manual was fascinating.

Our local library had an old reference book with a red cover, maybe published in the 1920s or 1930s, something about “formulas” in the title? Anyway, it for farmers and such and it had a ton of info about making explosives. I knew better than to mess with that stuff, but a copy of that book would be fascinating.

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We got our gunpowder recipe from an old 1950s Boys’ Annual.

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*Eyes widen*

I do have a fruit fly problem…