pp. 882-883

The Wrong Hands: Popular Weapons Manuals and Their Historic Challenges to a Democratic Society, Ann Larabee

Reviewed by Darrell Miller





Ralph Waldo Emerson once remarked, “Books are the best of things, well used; abused, among the worst.” Whether and how books may be abused is the question Ann Larabee tackles in The Wrong Hands: Popular Weapons Manuals and Their Historic Challenges to a Democratic Society. Larabee supplies a well-documented account of the dissemination of destructive knowledge. Dangerous information—how to make dynamite, how to lay an ambush, how to produce poison—migrates in two dimensions. The first dimension is from the elites down to the masses: applied chemistry treatises and army survival manuals are shamelessly copied, repackaged, and distributed by radical pamphleteers, fringe publication houses such as Paladin Press, and, in more recent years, by blogs, chat groups, and peer-to-peer file-sharing software. The second dimension is across the political spectrum. Anticapital anarchists publish tracts on the best way to build a bomb, sometimes seasoning the bland technical details with inflammatory political screeds. Anticommunist reactionaries take their instructions, strip out the Marxist cant, and put in their own, right-wing bluster; they, in turn, are plagiarized by environmental groups and Islamic radicals, who add their own political flavor. The overwhelming sense from Larabee is that the technical details—some- times accurate, sometimes n

To continue reading, see options above.

About PSQ's Editor

Demetrios James Caraley

Full Access

Join the Academy of Political Science and automatically receive Political Science Quarterly.

From the Archives

Developments in Beijing

The Varieties of Collective Financial Statecraft: The BRICS and China

Chinese Thinking on the South China Sea and the Future of Regional Security

Search the Archives

Publishing since 1886, PSQ is the most widely read and accessible scholarly journal with distinguished contributors such as: Lisa Anderson, Robert A. Dahl, Samuel P. Huntington, Robert Jervis, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Woodrow Wilson

view additional issues


Coming in Winter 2017-18

Disruption, Demonization, Deliverance, and Norm Destruction: The Rhetorical Signature of Donald J. Trump

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON and DORON TAUSSIG examine Donald Trump’s rhetoric during the presidential campaign and through his first 100 days in office. They argue that Trump’s “rhetorical signature,” which distinguishes him from his predecessors, certified Trump’s authenticity as a candidate of change and now complicate his ability to govern.


Most read

Articles | Book reviews

Understanding the Bush Doctrine
Robert Jervis

The Study of Administration
Woodrow Wilson

Notes on Roosevelt's "Quarantine" Speech
Dorothy Borg

view all

New APS Book

Continuing Issues in U.S. National Security Policy   CONTINUING ISSUES IN U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY

About US

Academy of Political Science

The Academy of Political Science, promotes objective, scholarly analyses of political, social, and economic issues. Through its conferences and publications APS provides analysis and insight into both domestic and foreign policy issues.

Political Science Quarterly

With neither an ideological nor a partisan bias, PSQ looks at facts and analyzes data objectively to help readers understand what is really going on in national and world affairs.

Stay Connected
newsstand locator
About APS