AMERICAN ANARCHIST is 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, William Powell. Powell wrote the hugely controversial book at just 19 amid the counterculture upheaval of the late 1960s and early ‘70s. It remains relevant today as it’s horrifyingly often cited as “inspiration” for the most heinous acts against humanity including the Columbine shootings. Now, in this film, Powell (who died in July 2016) reflects on his life and confronts the reality of what his younger self put out into the world.

Director Charlie Siskel (iconic film critic Gene Siskel’s nephew), is an Academy Award and Emmy nominated TV and film writer, director and producer. His work in film includes the documentaries Bowling for Columbine, Religulous and Finding Vivian Maier. Please let us know if you would like to speak with Siskel about his intimate discussions with William Powell and the making of this film.

Please scroll down for additional information and links to the trailer for the timely film, American Anarchist.


In 1970, William Powell wanted to help build a new society, so he taught the world how to blow up the old one. As the heady days of the late 60’s counterculture and political upheaval turned darker, Powell, at 19, wrote one of the most infamous books ever published: The Anarchist Cookbook. Part manifesto, part bomb-making manual, it went on to sell over 2 million copies, and it’s been associated with decades of anti-government attacks, abortion clinic bombings, school shootings and homegrown domestic terrorism.  Now 65, Powell, haunted by his creation, struggles to make sense of the damage it’s done. After writing it, he left the US, leading an itinerant life, teaching kids with special needs — ironically, the kinds of kids who may have turned to violence and the Cookbook.  The film is a cautionary tale of youthful rebellion, unforeseen consequences, and a universal, all-too human story of an older man, wrestling with his past, his identity, and coming to terms with who he really is.