13 books that changed history: Steal This Book

After 13 weeks of proposals, this series of 13 books that changed history comes to an end with a controversial text (like many of those already proposed), transgressive, disruptive, challenging, and lots, lots of fun: Steal This Book, by Abbie Hoffman.

Steal This Book (1970) is a polyhedral work: a manual of life; a generational reference; a statement of intent; a living manifesto; a community party; a celebration of freedom; a kick to the system. Throughout its 368 pages, Hoffman, with the support of different co-authors, offers a practical guide to live in permanent challenge to the status quo: from calls to theft (starting with the title itself), through instructions to commit fraud, techniques raging from growing marijuana, tips for mounting a pirate radio, or training to occupy property, Steal This Book is a complete manual for living outside the law.

Abbie Hoffman (1936-1989) was a leading figure in the yippie movement (the most politicized branch of the hippie movement in the US, organized under the umbrella of the International Youth Party). Activist, writer, politician and agitator, Hoffman was, along with Jerry Rubin, one of the most visible faces of a movement that sought to shake up the American youth, lowering the “seriousness” and ideological and methodological orthodoxy of the most faithful movements in the traditional left, and calling for participation to the least mobilized (or directly depoliticized) sectors, in a convulsive social context in which self-exclusion of public life was not an option. He was also one of the proper names of the famous Chicago Seven (initially the Chicago Eight), a group of anti-Vietnam War activists accused of instigating and provoking violent riots and protests during the Democratic National Convention of 1968 in the aforementioned city. A member of the movement since the 1960s, during the 1970s he continued his activism as a radical journalist. His bibliographic production includes more than a dozen works, among which can be found Revolution For the Hell of It, published in 1968, and Steal This Book itself. 

Referring to the North American counterculture, Steal This Book is one of the avant-garde texts of a new youth, of a new time, of a new way of doing politics and of being in the world. Bold, irreverent and challenging, like the yippies themselves, it is a text that, like the corrupt and meaningless reality that denounces and seeks to change, does not allow indifference.

📷 Image: unknown author.

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