Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hazelden's new release: "The Book That Started It All: The Original Working Manuscript of 'Alcoholics Anonymous'"

My son Ken and I had a role in working with the owners, Ken and Krista R., on the preparation of this valuable historical piece for publication by Hazelden. And we are delighted now that we have seen the actual evidence that this work is being published, promoted, and made available as Ken and Krista wanted it to be.

We will have many comments on certain facets of the book as time goes by, and we certainly will be citing certain portions in our ongoing writing and historical materials.

Meanwhile, here are some comments we just sent to the owner, Ken Roberts:

"Comments to Ken and Krista R. on the publishing of this treasured manuscript:

1. The cover, the printing, and the manuscript copies are beautifully presented.
2. You can be very pleased that you were able to make this valuable publication available through the Hazelden establishment.
3. At long last, I had an opportunity to see all the changes that were made, and they were most revealing.
4. A few of the most significant ones (that will receive my comments in various writings) are these: (a) The overwhelming attempts by “Dr. Howard” to interject his distaste for “God,” to substitute “faith” in place of "God," and to suppress any Oxford Group ideas he saw. (b) The overwhelming presence of Hank Parkhurst in the process, exemplified by his frequent initials. (c) The very clear and persistent and consistent effort—even at this late juncture—of Bill’s pointing to God as the solution.
5. I was dismayed by the unwillingness of Hazelden and some of the “editors” to recognize the very clear departure of Bill’s book and manuscript from the Akron program; their unwillingness properly to acknowledge and footnote the role of the Oxford Group and Shoemaker in the language; their utter unwillingness to cover the biblical emphasis in Akron on James, Jesus’ Sermon, and 1 Corinthians 13 as well as the direct contribution of those sources to Big Book language.
6. While the Big Book writing changes are not of great interest to me because most of them have become known in the past few years, the authenticity of this piece of evidence, the battles which it underlines, the shift from God to universalism, and the attempt even to suppress Dr. Bob’s “Heavenly Father” remark on page 181 are.
7. I’m well aware of the power of the publisher to force its views into the promotions and actual language. And the most egregious example is the attempt to sell the “spiritual but not religious” nonsense so continuously espoused by Kurtz and some of the later commentators.
8. The segment on A.A. Conference Approved literature is an accurate and joyful piece of revelation which seems to have survived the cut.
9. In all, therefore, Ken and I are most appreciative of the part we were allowed to play, of seeing the basic utility of this work, and now in having its resplendent embodiment before us.
10. We thank you for the confidence placed in us and the frank discussions we were able to hold with you."

God Bless,

Dick B.
Author, 39 titles on A.A. History
Exec. Dir., International Christian Recovery Coalition
(808) 874-4876
PO Box 837, Kihei, HI 96753-0837

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