Sorry About All the Bombs
|9:29:57 PM, Friday, February 25, 2011|
"It’s the original guide to “everything illegal,” from pot loaf and hash cookies to tear gas, dynamite, and TNT. There are frank tips on demolition, surveillance, sabotage, and the gorier parts of hand-to-hand combat, including how to behead a man with piano wire and make a knife “slip off the rib cage and penetrate the heart.” In the introduction, the then-teenage author makes clear his wish that the book be of more than just theoretical use. “I hold a sincere hope that it may stir some stagnant brain cells into action,” he wrote.
William Powell, author of The Anarchist Cookbook, succeeded all too well. His slim, 160-page volume democratized the nuts and bolts of terror. Published in 1971, it would sell more than 2 million copies worldwide and influence dozens of malcontents, mischief makers, and killers. Police have linked it to the Croatian radicals who bombed Grand Central Terminal and hijacked a TWA flight in 1976; the Puerto Rican separatists who bombed FBI headquarters in 1981; Thomas Spinks, who led a group that bombed at least 10 American abortion clinics in the mid-1980s; and the 2005 London public-transport bombers.
Just last spring, after a father-son team of British white supremacists drew on the book to make a jar of ricin, a London judge joined police in calling for a ban on the title and the many copycat volumes it has inspired. But retailers refused, and the book’s Arizona-based publisher, which acquired the rights in 2001, declined to comment. So the work lives on, and so does its author. Just not in the way you might expect.
Powell, now 61 years old, long ago renounced the best-selling terrorist bible he penned. He left the country in 1979, bouncing around the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, working as a teacher and administrator in a series of State Department–backed private schools. He wrote more books, about pedagogy and professional development. And he gained a reputation for—wait for it—conflict resolution..."