American Anarchist review – author finally comes to terms with his grisly creation

Charlie Siskel tracks down the author of The Anarchist Cookbook, who after decades of denial tacitly accepts the damage caused by his epoch-defining text

Charlie Siskel, along with John Maloof, is responsible for Finding Vivian Maier, the documentary about the Chicago street photographer whose genius was only appreciated with the posthumous discovery of her archive. Now he has turned to another intriguing figure – the once marginal yet centrally important William Powell, author of the notorious, radical underground text The Anarchist Cookbook (1971). This was a book that combined standard-issue revolutionary rhetoric with deadly serious and very practical advice about how to make bombs. It has become a standard text, a locus classicus: but not with the revolutionary left, exactly. The book has been linked with almost every killing spree and mass shooting in the Us.

Related: After Kent State: 1970s anti-war student art – in pictures

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