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The Story of an Anarchist

As the author of the scandalous work “The Anarchist Cookbook” inspired a wave of terrorists and abandoned his brainchild.

“Anarchist Cookbook” by William Powell. Getty Photos

March 30, 2017 it became known about the death of William Powell – the author, perhaps the most resonant book of the 20th century, in detail telling about the creation of bombs, weapons and drugs. When the writer was working on the work, he was young and full of hatred for the government, but over time he became ashamed of his work, which became a guide to action for international terrorists, nationalists and murderers. The story of the Anarchist Cookbook and its author was recorded byjournalist from Harper’s Magazine, Gabriel Thompson.

Homemade bombs on board the aircraft

On September 10, 1976, during a typical flight from New York to Chicago, a bearded man named Zvonko Busic handed a letter to the stewardess. In it, Busich introduced himself as a Croatian nationalist and explained that five bombs were hidden on board the aircraft, and the sixth was in a storage room at the Central Station in New York. Then Busich pointed out that the pilot should contact the authorities, who should open the storage chamber and find the explosives.

When Busich went into the cockpit, in his hand he held something similar to a pack of dynamite tied to a battery. The nationalist ordered the aircraft to deploy to Europe. In parallel with this, the police detachment found in the storage chamber a homemade bomb and two nationalist treatises in favor of the independence of Croatia and Yugoslavia. Busich demanded that declarations appear in several newspapers, including The New York Times and the Washington Post. The editors agreed.

Together with Busich on board were four accomplices, including his wife. She politely communicated with passengers and handed out propaganda leaflets. After several refueling, the plane landed at Charles de Gaulle airport near Paris, where Busich surrendered to the authorities. He and his team did not hurt or rude passengers, and therefore several people even approved the actions of the invaders.

When examining the aircraft, it turned out that the bombs on board were fake. However, the device lying in the storage chamber turned out to be real. During demining, it suddenly exploded, killing one officer and wounding three. When Busich was asked what he had made of the device from, he explained that he used Rattled Jelly, a powerful substance of the class of dynamites, which he learned from the Anarchist Cookbook.

How a schoolboy became an anarchist

The Cookbook, written by 18-year-old American William Powell, spoke mostly about illegal things: how to make dynamite, trotyl, LSD, or make a grenade launcher from a shotgun. The book, including calling people to war against the state, ended with the words “Freedom is built on respect, and respect must be earned by shedding blood.” This is exactly what young and full of rage Powell wanted. For the first time his recipes applied it Busich.

William Powell in 1971. Corbis Photos

For the then young anarchist, this event should have been a triumph, but the older Powell became, the more shame he felt for his work. In 1979, he went traveling, visiting Tanzania, Indonesia and Malaysia. There he became a renowned teacher and leader of the Education Across Borders public organization, which sought to support students around the world.

One of the most recent books by Powell, “Becoming an Emotionally Intelligent Teacher” (Becoming an Emotionally Intelligent Teacher), talked about the development of teaching skills and working with students. She, like many other educational books of Powell, was sponsored by the US authorities. In parallel with this, in 2013 he wrote memoirs and thought a lot about the “Cookbook” what he admitted to Harper’s Magazine.

For many years, this book hung on the edge of my mind and had the annoying habit of popping up in memory every time I was certain.

William Powell, writer and teacher

Powell often wondered why he was the author of such a scandalous book. Anarchist was born in New York and moved to London at the age of three. There, his father, a graduate philosopher, helped the UN organize the General Assembly. In 1959, the Powell family returned to New York, where his mother worked as a doctor, and his father collaborated with the UN.

Life seemed to be going well, but Powell was tormented by boredom. Life for a teenager seemed too trivial: he did not know what to do in the future. Once he and a friend hijacked a car and drove to North Carolina. Soon they were detained by the police, and Powell had to change school. However, he was excluded from the next one even faster: he hacked into the teacher’s car and drove into the pit.

Tired of school, in 1967, the 17-year-old Powell left home and moved in with his acquaintances, and then got a job as a consultant at the Bookmasters book store. For days he read revolutionary treatises and abstracts, including Lenny Bruce (Lenny Bruce) and Ernesto Che Guevara. And if the police came to the store in search of “dangerous” literature, Powell hid anarchist works.

Once a woman brought to the store a copy of a manifesto called “Garbage” (Scum), where the author radically criticized men and declared the biological and social superiority of the female over the male.

Powell became interested in writing and put several copies of the treatises in the window. The author of the book was Valerie Solanas (Valerie Solanas) – an American radical feminist. A week later, she was arrested for the attempted assassination of Andy Warhol, a famous American artist who created the term “commercial pop art” and was openly gay.

Campbell’s soup cans – one of Andy Warhol’s most famous works.

After this incident, Powell realized that he was tired of putting revolutionary materials on the shelves and watching life pass by. He met several anarchists who taught him how to make a Molotov cocktail, explosives and LSD. It was 1969: thousands of students and supporters of the hippie movement went to anti-war rallies and demanded an end to the Vietnam War.

Powell was among them. Harsh and sometimes fights with the police stirred up the anarchist’s hatred for the government. He saw how brutally the police were responding to civil actions, and he heard about a reporter whom servants of the law threw at a glass door. Fragments ripped and disfigured the face of a journalist.

Protesters against the Vietnam War at the White House. Photo of the University of Washington press service

Mass protests did not subside, and US soldiers fought and died in Vietnam. Recruits were called in almost every day, and Powell fell into the category of potential soldiers. He did not want to fight for phantom ideals, but the prospect of escaping to Canada or going to prison did not attract him either. On the contrary, Powell started a girl, had a steady income and decided to fulfill the dream of becoming a writer, having bought a typewriter for $ 25.

Later it turned out that Powell was declared unfit for military service for reasons that they refused to disclose. The road to creativity has cleared, and he decided to write a book about anarchism, inspired by the advice of friends and protesters.

Fame book

Powell quit his bookstore and began writing 10 hours a day. He was interested in anarchism not from a political point of view, but from a technical one: how to prepare drugs, follow the movements of opponents, design weapons and explosives. By the time he was 18, Powell knew a lot about drugs by trying marijuana, LSD and heroin. For clarification and verification of information, Powell came to the library, spending hours studying army manuals and books on building bombs. He spent a month to understand the work of nitroglycerin and tear gas.

After three months of hard work, the anarchist sent out the Cookbook to 34 publishers. For a long time, the work was rejected, referring to the “inappropriate format.” Finally, journalist Lyle Stuart (Lyle Stuart) became interested in the work of Powell and offered $ 2,000 for the rights to the book.

Insightful and energetic Stewart in journalistic circles was considered a professional brawler. He once collaborated with the FBI on matters of national security thanks to wide circles in the press, and was able to determine whether a book could become a bestseller. In the Anarchist Cookbook, he saw potential.

Due to his scandalous content, they began to mention the work in newspapers and on television. Resonance soon reached the White House, and the FBI was instructed to find out all the details about the book and its author. Dozens of people wrote letters to the department every day demanding to ban the book, but the agents could not prove that Powell’s work violated any law.

I argued like this: if the American government spits on citizens, it is necessary to take power from him. At that time, I sincerely believed that if people were explained, they would become independent from any government and would be able to decide their own fate.

William Powell, writer and teacher

Powell almost did not correct the book written in a hurry: he was urged to tell people the truth and contribute to the fight against the allegedly unjust actions of the US government. Therefore, when a wave of questions from journalists fell upon the anarchist, a stream of condemnation from ordinary people and calls from the FBI, he first thought about what had been done. Taken into a tight ring of criticism and information noise, the writer has closed in on himself.

The resonant book was selling well, but most of the money was received by Stewart. Powell returned to education: he graduated from the university with a degree in English and spent more than a year living in Alaska, teaching mentally ill children. Returning to New York, he learned that he had a son. A little later, met his future wife. In the late 1970s, a former anarchist taught at a private school in New York for children with special needs, and in 1979 he traveled.

In the absence of a telephone or radio, he did not follow the news and did not even know that terrorist attacks were taking place in the country thanks to his book. In Alabama, a federal judge and 10 private abortion clinics were undermined, and a lawyer died in Atlanta from explosives. When investigating devices, FBI agents confirmed that the principle of operation of explosives is similar to that described in the Cookbook.

Pupils and parents after the shooting in Denver, 2013. Reuters Photos

In the 1990s, Powell worked as a principal at a school in Tanzania and decided to dismiss several teachers to reorganize the school. In response, the unknown man threatened to tell the school authorities about the Cookbook. The former anarchist who did not want to enter into conflict applied for resignation, but he was asked to stay: no one wanted to let go of a reputable leader.

By this time, nearly a million copies of the Cookbook were sold in the United States. Years later, Powell claimed that he received only $ 35,000 for publishing the book. He, however, did not strongly object, wanting only as far as possible to move away from his brainchild.

Communication with terrorist attacks

In December 2013, 19-year-old Karl Pierson (Karl Pierson) went to school in the US state of Colorado with a shotgun, machete and Molotov cocktails. He wanted to take revenge on a disciplinary librarian, but failed to find a woman. Then Pearson shot a 17-year-old schoolgirl, wounded another student in the head, and then blew up an incendiary bottle inside the school library room and shot himself. Later, Pearson’s friends told him that he had reread the book “The Anarchist” for years and advised her friends.

This was not the first such case. In 1998, a 15-year-old teen from Oregon killed his parents and two schoolchildren. In his personal belongings found the book Powell. A year later, two pupils shot 13 students at the Columbine School in Denver . They found “Cookbook”.

The work, which the author wrote when he was young, out of hatred for the government and the world order, became an excuse for the fury experienced by adolescents experiencing depression or inability to find a place in society.

And although it is impossible to say for sure that the book of Powell was the main cause of school shootings, it can be explained why the murderers had the piece.

In each institution where Powell was a director, he issued an order banning his book in the library, fearing for the life and health of his students. The former anarchist has repeatedly admitted that he regretted the “Cookbook”, and after the shooting at “Columbine” he began to fight for the removal of the work from sale. He wrote anappeal to Amazon and other book sites, arguing that “he strongly disagrees with the content of his book, refuses it and finds it dangerous.”

However, the book continues to illegally distribute and publish on the Internet. In Russia, the Anarchist Cookbook was published in 1995 by the Russian Rarity Publishing House. The circulation was 30 thousand copies. And without that, not too active sales of the work were interrupted in 2014, when the book was included in the Federal list of extremist materials and was banned from circulation.

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