Monday, July 9, 2012
Steal This Book is a book written by Abbie Hoffman. Written in 1970 and published in 1971 the book exemplified the counter-culture of the sixties. The book sold more than a quarter of a million copies between April and November 1971. The book, in the style of the counter-culture, mainly focused on ways to fight the government, and against corporations in any way possible. The book is written in the form of a guide to the youth. Hoffman, a political and social activist himself, used many of his own activities as the inspiration for some of his advice in Steal this Book.
The main author of the book, Abbie Hoffman was one of the most influential and recognizable American activists of the twentieth century. Abbie Hoffman was born in 1936 in Worcester, Massachusetts. Hoffman wrote several books and other works such as Steal This Urine Test: Fighting Drug Hysteria in America, Revolution For the Hell of It, and The Autobiography of Abbie Hoffman. Steal this Book was written in the climate of the counter-culture, in which opposition to tradition and government was rampant, and experimentation with new forms of living was encouraged. In short, it was written in the time of “sticking it to the man.” Although the book was published in the seventies, it is truly a relic of the sixties.
Steal this Book is broken up into three sections, “Survive!”, “Fight!”, and “Liberate!”. Each section has several sub-chapters each pertaining to its section. The section “Survive!” is all about getting “free” things and as its title indicates, surviving. It includes chapters on how to acquire food, clothing, furniture, transportation, land, housing, education, medical care, communication, entertainment, money, dope, and other assorted items and services. The section “Fight!” is all about the counter-culture imperative of rebelling against the government and corporations. It includes chapters on starting an underground press, guerrilla radio, guerrilla television, what to bring to a demonstration that’s expected to be violent, how to make an assortment of home-made bombs, first aid for street fighters, legal advice, how to seek political asylum, shoplifting techniques, stealing credit cards, monkey warfare, gun laws, and identification papers. This section also includes advice on such topics as growing cannabis, living in a commune, and obtaining a free buffalo from the Department of the Interior. It discusses various tactics of fighting as well as giving a detailed list of affordable and easy ways to find weapons and armor that can be used in a confrontation with law enforcement. The section advocates rebelling against authority in all forms, governmental and corporate.The third section is “Liberate!” with the chapter headings: Fuck New York, Fuck Chicago, Fuck Los Angeles, and Fuck San Francisco. The book also includes an appendix that lists approved of organizations and other books worth stealing.
As the book ages, the specific details of the various techniques and advice Hoffman gives have become largely obsolete for technological or regulatory reasons, but the book iconically reflects the yippie zeitgeist. (read more)