A little ditty on the “Big Book”, Alcoholics Anonymous. (Where did it come from?)
When and how did Alcoholics Anonymous come about?
Alcoholics Anonymous was founded on June 10, 1935. This was the date of the second member, Dr Bob S’ last drink. His sobriety began a short time after a meeting with Bill W., the first founding member of AA, who at that time had six months without a drink. Bill was on a business trip that ended poorly. While pacing the hotel lobby Bill was tempted by the thought of going into the bar and maybe make new friends, which would be difficult for him without having a few drinks for social lubrication. Bill thought maybe only three drinks, that’s all. With that thinking he knew he was in trouble and went to the hotel church directory and started to make a few calls. After many failed attempts Bill got hold of a clergymen who knew of someone who was in trouble with his drinking. This is how Bill ended up meeting Dr Bob, who would become the second member of this new fellowship.
When Bill met Dr. Bob (in the AA fellowship they only use their first names for anonymity) Bob’s first reaction was to say “Bill, you can’t help me. I’ve tried many times to stop drinking. It is no use”. Bill’s response was to tell Bob that he was not there to help Bob not drink, rather that by talking to Bob, Bill would be able to stay sober himself through this rough time. That is part of the message of AA. It is just one alcoholic talking to another and relating to one another on a level that a non-alcoholic would not be able to understand. These two men saw that in order to maintain their own sobriety they would need to approach other alcoholics and share their story of recovery from this deadly disease, Alcoholism.
Where did the book come from?
The fellowship, which had no name at the time, grew quickly and the members decided that to better get the word out to other sufferers, they should put what had been keeping them sober into book form, which they titled ” Alcoholics Anonymous”. Hence, the fellowship took on the name of the book. So, with some confusion, the book became commonly known as the “Big Book”, originally because the first addition used thick paper. In this book the disease of Alcoholism is described, as are the 12 steps. This solution to the problem is outlined with specific instructions.
The Big Book is the basic text of the fellowship and it was soon discovered that alcoholics could recover by taking the suggestions in the book and applying them to their lives. The Big Book was first published in 1939. The book now has been translated into 68 languages and has been read by people in more than 170 countries. Over 35 million copies have currently been printed.
Who wrote it?
It is commonly said that the Big Book was written by the approximately first 100 members of AA. This is partly true. The main author of much of the text was Bill W himself, the first member of AA. Bill sobered up for the last time in Towns Hospital for Alcohol and Drug Addiction in New York City and was approached by an old friend who stopped drinking through the Oxford group, a Christian organization helping Alcoholics, among others.
Bill W was the main author of the book, but as each chapter was written it was passed around to the few AA groups of that time to be discussed and edited. Some wanted more God others wanted less. At one point Bill had said he was more like the umpire than the author. However the book was finally published for the first time in 1939, as stated before.