To learn and apply to recovery today The History of Alcoholics Anonymous and The Twelve Steps, the starting point can and should be to scope out the comprehensive picture and then choose, piece by piece, what will bless you as your beginning source for study.
An order of study of the origins, history, founding, original Christian Fellowship of A.A., the astonishing successes, and the major changes in 1939, can be as follows:
1. The Christian upbringing of Bill W. and Dr. Bob as youngsters in Vermont.
2. The powerful and highly successful Christian movements of the later 1800's that influenced their education, studies, and beliefs--Evangelists, Salvation Army, YMCA brethren, Rescue Missions, Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor and--much later--the Oxford Group and Sam Shoemaker's role.
3. The beginning in New York when Rowland Hazard made a decision for Christ, led Ebby Thacher to Calvary Rescue Mission where Ebby made his decision for Christ, Dr. Silkworth's advice to Bill Wilson that the Great Physician Jesus Christ could cure him, Bill's decision for Jesus Christ at Calvary Mission and his statement: "For sure I had been born again," Bill's decision to call on the Great Physician, Bill's cry to God for help at Towns Hospital, his "white light" experience where he believed he was in the presence of the "God of the Scriptures," his immediate cure, and his later statement on page 191 of the Big Book that the "Lord had cured" him of his "terrible disease."
4. The Akron beginnings in 1933, the prayers of Dr. Bob on the rug at T. Henry's house, the seemingly miraculous appearance of Bill W. in Akron, Bill's witnessing to Bob about the conversion, the illness, the drinking story, and service. And it was the latter that gripped Bob and caused him in turn to seek God's help and be cured--something he specifically declared.
5. The roots of the original Akron program in the Bible; the summary by Frank Amos of the program; our extensive recital of the 16 principles and practices of the pioneers.
6. The manuscript changes in Bill's proposed Big Book and Twelve Steps.
7. The continued and highly successful application of the Big Book, the Twelve Steps, the Oxford Four Absolutes, and the Bible in Cleveland--which grew from one group to 30 in a year and attained a documented 93% success rate.
Lots lots more, but the foregoing is a sketch. See the 42 Dick B. titles www.dickb.com/titles.shtml and come to the two Summit conferences in California on September 17 in Costa Mesa and on September 24 in Brentwood.