Coming of Age in Turbulent Times
by William Powell
Pub Date 18 Jun 2019
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The Cookbook: Coming of Age in Turbulent Times William Powell wrote The Anarchist Cookbook in 1969 at the age of nineteen. It included everything from making bombs to brewing LSD in the bathroom. On publication, it was hailed variously as “outrageous,” “extremely dangerous,” “communist,” and “the most irresponsible publishing venture in American history.” It also became an overnight bestseller.
Powell’s memoir chronicles the atmosphere of the 1960’s counterculture—the Civil Rights Movement was at its height and the federal government was engaged in a brutal and entirely unnecessary war in Southeast Asia. The zeitgeist was radicalization, the watchword was revolution, and Powell left an enduring record of his thoughts and anger in the shape of The Anarchist Cookbook.
The Cookbook: Coming of Age in Turbulent Times portrays Powell’s rebellious adolescence, political radicalization, the publication of the book, the firestorm of controversy that followed, and how it shadowed his entire life. He explores his feelings and the lessons learned, and how he went on to help hundreds of children all over the world in education.
"An astute posthumous memoir from Powell (Becoming an Emotionally Intelligent Teacher) centers around the book for which he is most famous—The Anarchist Cookbook. A 19-year-old Powell wrote the book, “a collection of how-to recipes for a variety of illegal activities—from growing pot plants on your windowsill to making homemade bombs in the bathroom,” in 1969. To set the Cookbook in the “earlier age both in terms of the cultural context out of which it came, and in terms of the development of its author,” Powell details his upbringing on Long Island, N.Y.; his “alienated, angry” adolescence spent protesting the Vietnam War; and living in the “tremendously exciting, turbulent” political culture of New York City’s Lower East Side. Powell explains that shortly after the book’s publication he began to ponder whether “violence [was] a desirable or effective means to constructive social change.” Powell admits, “I regret writing the book,” and he went on to become an educator of children with emotional and learning needs throughout the world, until his death in 2016. Powell’s thoughtful memoir serves as a fascinating look at 1960s counterculture."