Anarchist Cookbook FAQ

***** AOL reader summary: You cannot get the Anarchist Cookbook online. It is a book. ***** Many people are interested in the "Anarchist Cookbook" and repetitive questions often appear in groups such as rec.pyrotechnics and alt.engr.explosives. In order to cut down on this traffic, I have prepared a new FAQ file on the Anarchist Cookbook. If you have comments or additional information for this file, please send it to me at (Despite the above summary, I have nothing against most AOL users. Someone at AOL emailed me to ask if the Cookbook was a book or a disk, because he didn't want to read this whole file. I found this almost as amusing as the two (!) people who followed up this FAQ to ask for an online copy.) [I figure I'll post this FAQ weekly until the current traffic dies down and then post it less frequently. Let me know if this is too often.] ------------------------------ Subject: What is the Anarchist Cookbook? The Anarchist Cookbook, by William Powell, is a 160 page book, originally published in 1971. It is currently published by Barricade Books under ISBN 0-9623032-0-8. The table of contents should give an idea of what the book is about: A prefatory note on Anarchism today by P. M. Bergman Chapter 1: Drugs From pot to hydrangea leaves. Chapter 2: Electronics, Sabotage, and Surveillance From electronic bugging devices to telephone and communications sabotage. Chapter 3: Natural, Nonlethal, and Lethal Weapons From natural weapons to defense and medical treatment for gases. Chapter 4: Explosives and Booby Traps From how to make nitroglycerine to cacodyal. Some people consider the Anarchist Cookbook to be a classic while many people consider it total junk. Many anarchists say that the Anarchist Cookbook has nothing to do with "real anarchy." The Anarchist Cookbook generally has a bad reputation on Usenet. ------------------------------ Subject: Can I get the Anarchist Cookbook on the net? No. Note that it is a copyrighted book so it would be a violation of copyright to make it available on the net. More concretely, I don't think any online version exists, since it is very long and nobody is going to type it in for you. People often claim that the Anarchist Cookbook can be ftp'd or has been posted. They are confused. There are online files with content similar to the Anarchist Cookbook (e.g. The Big Book of Mischief, The Anarchist's Home Companion, Gunzenbombz Anarchist's Cookbook) and they are sometimes posted under the name of the Anarchist Cookbook. These are, however, not the original Anarchist Cookbook. I feel it is important to keep this straight. If you're sure that you did get the Anarchist Cookbook off the net, compare your file to the table of contents above. I bet they're entirely different. (But if you did find it, let me know and I'll update this section.) Someone has made excerpts from the explosives section of the real Anarchist Cookbook available at Text-files/Pyrotechnics/D-F/extracts-from-AC.txt ------------------------------ Subject: Where can I get the Anarchist Cookbook? The easiest way is from your local bookstore. This is not a snide way of telling you to get lost, but a serious answer. Go to the counter and ask for "Books in Print, Titles A-?". Flip to the "Anarchist Cookbook". (Or just give them the ISBN above.) Tell the bookstore to order it for you. You will get it in a few weeks. This really works. Alternatively, you can send $22 (includes postage) to Barricade Books, PO Box 1401, Secaucus NJ 07096. Other mail order places also sell it, such as Paladin Press or Loompanics. ------------------------------ Subject: Can you send me a copy of the Anarchist Cookbook by email? No. Get a life. :-) ------------------------------ Subject: Is the Anarchist Cookbook safe and accurate? No. According to people who know explosives, it contains many dangerous errors and formulas that are likely to hurt you. People strongly advise to stay away from it if you enjoy having your limbs. [How about some examples of errors?] If you want to read it just for entertainment, however, go ahead. I thought it was rather silly and contained a lot of tedious 60's political rhetoric. I'd suggest saving your money, but buy it if you want. ------------------------------ Subject: I'm a journalist. Isn't it terrible that people can get the Anarchist Cookbook over the net? Shouldn't this be stopped? The Anarchist Cookbook is not available over the net. It is, however, available from nearly any bookstore in the U.S. These dangerous institutions will also sell you Nazi literature, pornography, instructions on growing drugs, and so forth. For some reason, getting this stuff from a bookstore is not news, but getting it over the Internet is. Before calling for restrictions on the Internet, think of how you would like these restrictions to be applied to books, which really provide much more dangerous information than the Internet does. ------------------------------ Subject: Does the Anarchist Cookbook really contain errors? Yes. Lots of them. A classic error is the recipe for extracting the drug bananadine from banana peels. The flaw is that bananadine does not exist; it was mentioned in the March 1967 Berkeley Barb as a joke but the Anarchist Cookbook took it seriously. [Reference: "Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream, p. 336., thanks to Lamont Granquist.] There are more inaccuracies in the demolition section. Most of this section was cribbed from the U.S. Army Field Manual 5-25 "Explosives and Demolitions". However, the Cookbook discussion is simplified or even made up in several cases. For instance, while the Field Manual has a long discussion of the difficulty of demolishing suspension bridges, the Cookbook simply gives six places to put charges. For a review with several specific errors, see the anarchistic publisher Spunk Press's rather negative page on the Anarchist Cookbook: . Also check out their page for information on their new Anarchist Cookbook with food recipes. For a detailed look at some errors, here is one paragraph from the Anarchist Cookbook: "To conclude this chapter, I will present the most horrendous recipe I could find. Since it is not feasible to make napalm in your kitchen, you will have to be satisfied with cacodyal. This is made by chemically extracting all the oxygen from alcohol and then replacing it, under laboratory conditions, with metal arsenic. The formula for alcohol is C4H5O, whereas for cacodyal it is C4H5AR. Now, this new substance, cacodyal, possesses spontaneous inflammability, the moment it is exposed to the air. [Followed by a description of the deadly arsenic fumes it gives off]" Now for a closer look at this paragraph: a) There isn't actually a recipe described above, unless you consider "replace oxygen with arsenic" to be a recipe. It starts out telling you something to do in your kitchen and ends up with "in laboratory conditions." b) The formula for alcohol is C2H6O, not C4H5O. You can't have C4H5O. c) The valence of oxygen is 2. The valence of arsenic is 3 or 5. Thus, replacing oxygen with arsenic isn't possible. d) The symbol for arsenic is As, not AR. e) The Merck Index (and the dictionary) list cacodyl (notice the Cookbook's misspelling) as As2(CH3)2. This formula is totally different from C4H5AR. So, there are four obvious errors and a totally useless recipe in one short paragraph. I hope this brief review has pointed out the quality of the information in the Anarchist Cookbook. ------------------------------ Subject: Did the CIA sabotage the Anarchist Cookbook? Some people claim that the CIA/FBI/author/whoever sabotaged the Anarchist Cookbook to blow up would-be anarchists or to make the recipes fail. However, there is little evidence to support this theory. I find it much more likely that the errors are just due to incompetence. Note that many of the above errors (e.g. wrong symbol for arsenic, wrong formula for alcohol) don't sabotage anything but are just stupid errors. There are a few suspicious things, however. For example, while the truss bridge demolition illustration is redrawn directly from the U.S. Army Field Manual, one charge is misplaced in the figure and the bridge won't be entirely severed. This could be a deliberate change, but it's more likely just a copying error. ------------------------------ Subject: Where can I get more information? Look at the rec.pyrotechnics FAQ file, which, like most FAQ files, can be ftp'd from in /pub/usenet/rec.pyrotechnics. ------------------------------ Disclaimer: The Anarchist Cookbook describes activities which may be dangerous and illegal. In addition, the Anarchist Cookbook contains many dangerous errors. I strongly advise against performing any of these activities. I am serious about this. If you hurt yourself, don't blame me. I have no connection with the Anarchist Cookbook. I am not engaged in any illegal activity, so BATF please don't raid me. Copyright 1995 Ken Shirriff (shirriff@cs.Berkeley.EDU) Feel free to repost this file to the net or email it to anyone who needs it.