provenance: unknown

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Steal that book

You can buy a new edition of Steal this Book, Abbie Hoffman's underground classic, from Amazon.com for a little over $10. The new edition appears to be copyrighted (1996) by one Johanna Lawrenson (Hoffman's sometime companion*), which is perhaps ironic given the dozen or so complete copies of it floating around the web (all saying "copyright ©1971 Pirate Editions"). One site, which both hosts the text online and also offers hard copies for sale ($10 plus shipping, with "royalties" (?) to the Abbie Hoffman Activist Foundation, they say), notes Lawrenson's copyright but immediately wonders why, given, well, everything.

Perhaps Hoffman is chuckling from the grave. Then again, perhaps this is why he dedicated the book to his lawyer.

Another site also offers some of the history of the book, a real little-guy-subverts-industry, -makes-good tale. As for the actual text of the book, it speaks for itself. It opens:

It's perhaps fitting that I write this introduction in jail — that graduate school of survival. Here you learn how to use toothpaste as glue, fashion a shiv out of a spoon and build intricate communication networks. Here too, you learn the only rehabilitation possible-hatred of oppression.

Steal This Book is, in a way, a manual of survival in the prison that is Amerika. It preaches jailbreak. It shows you where exactly how to place the dynamite that will destroy the walls. The first section — SURVIVE! — lays out a potential action program for our new Nation. The chapter headings spell out the demands for a free society. A community where the technology produces goods and services for whoever needs them, come who may. ...

(Thanks to Kelegraph for the inspiration.)


*Correction (2/4/03): An apparently ego-surfing Johanna Lawrenson writes to say, "abbie and I were married for the last 15 years of his life. We were running mates and co-organizers for all of that time. Up the Rebels!" My thanks to Johanna, and apologies for the error!

June 14, 2002 2:47 PM

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Copyright ©2001-2003 Matt Pfeffer

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