Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Cautionary Tale

The Anarchist Cookbook is suspect at best. There are a lot of things in there I wouldn't try. The politics are spotty, and some have said this book is a front, kind of a dangerous bit of disinformation. The controversy behind it, though, made me want it, and many, many years ago I obtained it ... but not without some problems.

I first tried to order this book from Waldenbooks. I asked the clerk to special order it for me. She looked it up in her system and said that their distributor blacklisted the book and would not sell it to any of the bookstores it supplied. Fair enough. A distributor doesn't have to carry anything.

I then took my business to a different, smaller bookstore -- one with balls. When I told the clerk there of my problem with Waldenbooks he said, "That's bullshit. We have the same distributor, and I can order that for you." And he did. Within days I had my book. Disappointment followed.

I never found out why Waldenbooks, which I never had much of a problem with previous to this, didn't want to order the book. I can only imagine there was some kind of corporate liability scare and instead of owning up to it, employees were instructed to put the blame on the distributor. It was a coward's act, and I lost all respect for the book chain after that.

Again, the book itself is nothing special and not worth the controversy associated with it. Every few years it shows up in the news when some criminal some place is found to have it in his possession. Yawn. Any book that has that kind of a reputation, however, needs to be checked out if only to see if the hoopla has any teeth to it. In this case, it really doesn't. And as for it being disinformation, I kind of think there is some truth to that, and that alone makes it well worth having as a piece of history.

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