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American Anarchist (2016)

TV-MA | | Documentary | 8 October 2016 (USA)
The story of one of the most infamous books ever written, "The Anarchist Cookbook," and the role it's played in the life of its author, now 65, who wrote it at 19 in the midst of the counterculture upheaval of the late '60s and early '70s.

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The story of one of the most infamous books ever written, "The Anarchist Cookbook," and the role it's played in the life of its author, now 65, who wrote it at 19 in the midst of the counterculture upheaval of the late '60s and early '70s.

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8 October 2016 (USA)  »

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Amerikos anarchistas  »

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An hour and a half long guilt trip
23 June 2017 | by See all my reviews

I felt terrible for William Powell while watching this. Think back to all the stupid things that you thought when you were 19. He wrote it down. He didn't create the recipes for the explosives, he compiled the information. So many of the recipes came straight from our own government and the ways that they were blowing people up. The book had a catchy title and some press. He's spent years disavowing the book, and contributing wonderful things to the world and helping people. But the thing that no one will ever forget is a book he wrote when he was 19.

Imagine being 50 years old and *still* talking about a tweet that you wrote when you were 19 that the world won't forget about.

The interviewer really hammers William over every mass shooting, every bombing, and grills him about every decision he ever made regarding the book. I could hardly get through the "documentary" because I felt terrible for William. He just wants it to go away.

He didn't create the evil in the world. You can google "how to make a bomb" and find recipes from all over. His is the most popular. You cannot remove something from the internet. Even if he could stop it's publication, it would immediately backfire and start an underground market for the book that couldn't be tracked. There are also hundreds of other similar books, many of them are arguably better. Owning the cookbook is something that you have for shock value. I've had a copy since I was 13, because it made me feel tough and edgy. You cannot squash people's desires to make bombs by playing whack-a-mole with every set of instruction you can find.

Children have been taught by their governments since the moment government was created that when someone scares you, you blow them up. William Powell didn't do that. He was exceedingly patient with an interviewer who seemed hellbent on blaming him for every misguided individual that's ever wanted to blow something up. He seems to have made a wonderful life for himself and has given back tenfold, and at the end of the documentary, I just wanted to give him and his wife (who was incredibly gracious) a big hug.


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