JOHN WILCOCK: A Smoke Bomb at The Anarchist Cookbook Press Conference

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These stories are so wonderful.


Wikipedia says that the book just repeated the story of smoking banana peel, no testing. So was the other material tested?

I think it was in Steal This Book that at least excerpted from US military manuals.

I’ve never seen the book, but knew about it in the seventies.
But for some reason I thought it was more a “libertarian” book rather than from the left. Maybe the publisher. Odd that I’ve never seen a used copy, even back then.

If this is wrapping up, I should add that the drawings themselves do well represent the times.

And I’ve long had a copy of the book that collected articles from the East Village Other. Got it used in the spring of 1976, it was one of the first counterculture books I got.


I had copy on loan from a friend for awhile. It is interesting but not a great source of good info.

Another fun one of the time is The Poor Man’s James Bond


Just found my old copy in storage! As I mentioned a day or two ago in the banapple gas thread, the banana peel smoking does NOT work. What I will add here is that one of the “bomb recipes” that I tried with friends? Also did NOT work. Molotov cocktails do, of course, work, so we had some fun with those for a while (not throwing them at people or property, we just chucked them at blacktop at the end of a cul-de-sac).


I had one! Well, my big brothers did. I sourced it for my junior high school presentation on Anarchism. The poor teacher was expecting a report on Sacco & Vanzetti approved by THE MAN. But I gave highlights from The Anarchist Cookbook, which got me in The Man ™ brand Hot Water.


I used to own a copy of the Anarchist Cookbook. It took me two goes: first copy was stopped by HM Customs on its way from the US to the UK in about 1988…Waterstones were most apologetic and immediately refunded my money, the shop assistant adding that he thought it was “an enormous pile of horseshit”. Second time, probably about ten years later, it arrived safely via Amazon. I did get rid of it in the ‘Great Book Purge’ of 2010…being vaguely concerned that I could be arrested for even owning it in these paranoid times “In possession of materials likely to be of use to a terrorist” whilst being politically active within some campaigning groups very unpopular with the government (local and national) and the police. Bear in mind this is a country (UK) where someone was arrested a couple of years ago for blowing a plastic trumpet at an anti-tree-felling demonstration - in my city, no less :frowning: as well as two pensioners arrested for standing on the pavement…I kid you not.


In elementary school, late sixties, a kid was stockpiling firecrackers under his bed. I don’t think it was a metal chest. Memory says he said he was going to make a bomb with them, I’m picturing opening them up for the contents, but it’s been a long time. He wasn’t planning harm, just wanted to make a blast.

So the idea existed before you could mail away for a book.

There have !ong been stories here that Abbie Hoffmqn’s Steal this Book was banned in this province, because wehad real terrorists bombijg and kidnapping up to the yearbwfore the boom came out. But I was a tad too young at the time, and have never seen anything concrete since. So likely an urban myth, but I’m not certain.

For a time, I never had problems finding used copies locally. Starting in 1976. I’d find them at used book stores and sales, and give them away. Though the last time I saw one at a used book sale it was 25 to 30 years ago, and carried a “premium” price. I did find another copy for myself at a garage sale more recently.

An electronic copy was also floating around very early in the Internet’s life. At the time it was an open question if the recipes actually worked. Some people claimed that they were all flawed in some way, possibly in ways that release toxic fumes or explode in production. I never tried any. It would be interesting to see an actual chemist’s take on the Anarchist Cookbook.

I do remember one part where you’re cooking these chemicals on your stovetop and it says if they start to turn burn turn the heat off and run away as fast as you can.


Now I remember that once the internet became more available in the early nineties, there were stories about kids finding instructions about building bombs. I’m not sure if it was the Cookbook or excerpts, or other people’s instructions, but they were there, and memory says the stories presented it as some of the bad things about the internet.

But then, about the first time the internet was mentioned in the local newspaper, it was abiut a woman’s group who had discovered porn on the internet, and thought there should be rules. They never thought about how the same “lawlessness” would mean they could get their message out better, a problem that all small groups had. You couldn’t get much space in old media, so you needed a newsletter, which cost a lot, and required a lot of help. And it only kept your members informed, it wasn’t really a broadcast medium.

Even as groups got online, they missed this. In 1996 I looked at a lot of local non-profit group webpages, and they were static, not much more than markers. Even at the time it would have been easier to find contact information in the phone book. Some groups had emailing lists, electronic versions of newsletters in terms of concept and reach. Z handful said they’d be adding newsletters to their pages “soon”,. But generally they missed the concept of immediacy and intimacy, and trying yo reach a larger audience.

Discussion on the early Internet was via Usenet. Web forums weren’t very popular because it made your hosting real expensive and the Usenet was generally pretty good if you stayed out of hot topic political groups and alt.binaries.

Not so great for local issues, but generally not enough locals would have been online enough for it to really work anyway.

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That’s what the BBS scene was for. :slight_smile: I do miss those days, when the majority of people I interacted with online I knew in real life. And some email lists were similar – ne-raves ftw! We would have “net meets” for “net-ravers” at the parties. LOL because like, most people really had no idea what a modem was! Ah, those salad days. I remember thinking AOL had ruined the internet – oh my god, as if THAT had been rock bottom!!! :rofl:

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1974 through 1978, the Anarchist Cookbook was in my high school library.


A kid in high school about 1976 talked about it, but I can’t remember if he bought a copy or just wished for it.

He was interested in telephones, specially ordering a book that was supposed to give “secrets” and somehow he procured a lineman’s handset, a whole telephone in a hand unit. Easy now, but back then we were used to a telephone with separate handset.

The school library did have “Ringolevio”, which I was looking for, having seen previous mention of it.


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