Author of controversial Anarchist Cookbook dies aged 66

William Powell’s violence manual was one of the 20th century’s most notorious books

William Powell, author of controversial book The Anarchist Cookbook, has died at the age of 66.

Powell suffered a heart attack on July 11 2016 while on holiday in Nova Scotia, his death only being made public as part of a new documentary about his life.

The Anarchist Cookbook, published in 1971, has been linked to a series of high-profile mass killings in the United States, most notably the tragic Columbine High School shooting in 1999. Its material included diagrams and guides on guerrilla warfare training and how to build your own weaponry.

Powell, whose work was inspired as a response to the presidency of Richard Nixon and the Vietnam War, has since publicly condemned the book. He attempted to prevent further circulation of The Anarchist Cookbook, but publisher Lyle Stuart owned the copyright.

A 2013 opinion piece on The Guardian saw him writing: “I do not know the influence the book may have had on the thinking of the perpetrators of these attacks, but I cannot imagine that it was positive. The continued publication of the Cookbook serves no purpose other than a commercial one for the publisher. It should quickly and quietly go out of print.” 

In recent years, Powell and his wife established the charity Next Frontier: Inclusion, which aimed to help children with educational needs including autism and dyslexia.