The Forever Books about Alcoholics Anonymous
If you participate in A.A. and appreciate A.A., learn A.A. – all of it, bite by bite
Author of The Good Book and the Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible
© 2013 Anonymous. All rights reserved
What the “Forever Books” Are
What are the “Forever Books” about Alcoholics Anonymous? They are those in the 29 volume Alcoholics Anonymous History Reference set by Dick B. Those that give the 12-Step follower (including a speaker, sponsor, newcomer, historian, recovery leader, clergyman, physician, therapist, or writer) an accurate, truthful, comprehensive, cohesive account of the many varieties of programs A.A. has had; the varied roots A.A. has had; the conflicting ideas about A.A. language and texts; and how to meld and utilize them today. And much much more.
How the “Forever Books” Enable You to Study a Complete History One Bite at a Time
The “Forever Books” are those comprising my 29 volume reference set on A.A. History and the Christian Recovery Movement. Accompanied by the several recent works by my son Ken B. and me. Plus the new books to come and the 1500 articles already published which show our continued learning process. Plus the fruits of our continued research and learning. The 29 “Forever Books” by Dick B. and Dick B. and Ken B.—when bolstered by the dozens of articles by me as well as the materials by other respected AAs and recovery leaders---constitute a lifetime library. But this particular Dick B. library is a personal reference library. It is not meant to gather dust. Individuals can learn particular subjects, one or more, from the books and use the information in a wide variety of ways. In fact they are doing so now.
Groups can study several subjects, or one or more—bite by bite. Speakers, sponsors, newcomers, Christian recovery leaders, and treatment folks can present the book topics—one bite at a time, or as a related segment. And the immense bibliographic material in most of the volumes or taken as a whole exceeds anything you may try find in other histories and biographies. They represent the heart of A.A. and provide a specific detailed, usable, body of material on each of the many subjects covered.
And this 29 volume reference set of “Forever Books,” involves a list price for each book of over $700.00 for the 29 books. Right now, however, the entire set is offered and available for you at the very substantial discount price of $249.00 plus free shipping in the United States. The set can be ordered right now from the front page of my main website (www.dickb.com), or by contacting Dick B. or Ken B. in the manner listed below.
To be without this set is to be without access to what are closely related individual topics and to be without a complete picture of Alcoholics Anonymous and to be without an accurate and truthful recovery story and approach than can really help the soul who still suffers. And grow as a resource, particularly as future works become available.
In the 27 years I’ve served in A.A., and done my best thoroughly to tell its story, I have never found an adequate history in a single book, or even in just a few books by some particular writer. Not only do such limited approaches and circumscribed writings represent little more than a half a loaf; but they frequently report subjectively treated facts, conflict with the complete story, or simply fail to cite or include adequate footnotes enabling usable references found elsewhere.
Yet a story about Benedict Arnold and the American Revolution could not be and is not a complete picture of the founding of the United States or the people who were involved in the task. The useful, informative story for drunks to digest needs to be presented one bite at a time, but in chunks that are a vital part of the details. In a non-monolithic, varied, and diverse array of alcoholics—who have largely been guided and “taught’ by their own non-professional volunteer, altruistic, and basically uninformed brothers and sisters. Whereas it takes the lot of books, articles, viewpoints, stories, and facts —the lot of subjects and research writings--to arm the reader with facts, references, and cross-references much needed to produce a recovered alcoholic let alone a truthful and complete account for him to learn and implement.
Today, however, the alcoholic who still suffers, and those trying to help him, can study and digest the contents of the Dick B. 29 volume Alcoholics Anonymous History set at the bargain price of $249.00. And they can own the complete history and many little-known but preciously valuable facts that can tell readers “precisely how to recover” as the successful AAs did.
The Importance of Acquiring This Set for Yourself, Your Group, Your Meeting, and Your Fellowship or Facility
I believe I have a vital body of completely related pieces of A.A. history that can, not only inform others, improve recovery work, and set in perspective the great recovery service A.A. performs. It can also bring stability, tolerance, and comfort to the many in A.A. who are Christians, believers in God, and students of the Bible and have no desire to leave or condemn or trash A.A.
After many travels, vast reading, personal interviews, talks at conferences, and research, I have come to know thousands of such Christians, believers in God, students of the Bible, and alcoholic AAs who are hungry to remain in A.A. To tell others the golden text of A.A. To pass along the vitally gathered history of where it came from, where it acquired its ideas and program, how the program has many different approaches and has changed with the years, and how the history can be applied to enhance 12 Step fellowship prospects today and eradicate some grossly absurd or dangerous ideas that have sprung from sources outside A.A. or nonsensical “wisdom of the rooms.”
I also believe that--considering my more than 27 years of continuous sobriety; my consistent active role in the trenches of A.A.; my more than 24 years of research, reading, investigating, comparing, and sourcing A.A.; and my sponsorship of more than 100 AAs in their recovery, I have had a unique agenda. It has been to discover how much of A.A. came from the Bible (as Dr. Bob suggested) and what other sources of ideas it embraced—whether harmonious or not. And then, as the facts were unearthed, it was and is to show how they can be applied today and the appropriate way to do this, working primarily with A.A. Conference-approved supportive literature.
Subjects the Dick B. “Forever Books” Place at Your Finger Tips and Also Enable you to Relate to and Use the Set as an Accurate, Comprehensive Whole.
There are many books about Alcoholics Anonymous, its origins, and the meaning of its principles, practices, and language. Some are good. Some are not. They often conflict with one another. They often offer a very limited understanding of the real A.A. They often short-change the very suffering souls who desperately need accurate and useful recovery information. Yet these books have laid out some important landmarks to guide the researcher.
The body of these books includes: (1) A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature—a “must read” for successful understanding of A.A. (2) a large number of biographies about Bill Wilson, and also Bill’s own autobiography. (3) mostly limited and seldom investigated snippets about the life of Dr. Bob, his upbringing, training, studies, and religious views. (4) books on the Twelve Steps and how to take them. (4) subjectively presented, inadequately related, and singleness of approach accounts that divert necessary broad and complete training into specific persons, places, and viewpoints that preclude study of subjects of major importance to the sick, bewildered, fearful, suffering newcomer in A.A.
The body of books includes many attacks on A.A. on and from every front. Sometimes: (1) pointing to the aberrations of the founders and the unjustified pasting of A.A. itself with their shortcomings. (2) claiming the early Akron A.A. fellowship and its carefully developed successful program has no relevance today and has been superseded by the writings of Bill W. (3) claiming A.A. is too religious. (4) claiming A.A. has created its own god or has its own kind of special “Christian God” and is no place for Christians to be. (5) claiming that God has been shoved out of A.A. (6) believing attendance at or fellowship with AAs by Christians is a sure ticket to hell. (7) asserting that A.A. is “spiritual, but not religious”—whatever meaning that phrase is intended to convey. (8) fashioning or manufacturing self-made religion and relying upon endless absurd gods like light bulbs, chairs, “Something,” Big Dipper, tables, radiators, and Ralph.
Often sincere analysts and historians include in their histories and biographies very very few pieces of literature that will give you a complete, accurate, comprehensive picture of: (1) the Christian origins of A.A. and its fellowship ideas; (2) the importance of the Bible as the foundation of the A.A. story; (3) the highly important Christian upbringing of both Dr. Bob and Bill; (4) the immense influence Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker had on: (a) the course and content of the Big Book, (b) the Twelve Steps, (c) the idea of a turning point, (d) the separation of man from God among those meant to be His companions; (e) a “vital religious experience,” (f) “finding” God, and (g) the need for Jesus Christ (5) a host of horror stories about how A.A. doesn’t work, is dangerous, has harmed someone, and should be replaced by a Christian program like Celebrate Recovery or an unbeliever program like Rational Recovery.
There are a few historians who have done a good, but much limited, job in their areas of interest—(1) some of the beginnings of A.A. in Akron, (2) the religious upbringing of Bill and Bob as youngsters, (3) “spirituality,” “not-god-ness,” the roles of Ebby Thacher, Clarence H. Snyder, the Oxford Group, and the Washingtonians, (4) the many faces of Bill Wilson, (5) the real contributions of the Oxford Group, (6) the later roles played by Sister Ignatia, Father Ed Dowling, S.J., and Father John Ford, S.J. (7) Even by the Catholic priest, Father John Doe. But their writings seldom depict the relationship of their subject to the real A.A. that was, is, and ought to be.
What’s missing today? Now look at What Dick B. Found about A.A.?
(1) An understanding of the fact and details that A.A. had Christian origins applicable today.
(2) A knowledge of the basic ideas from the Bible that formed the foundation for the early Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship program and Bill W.’s new version in the 12 Steps.
(3) A knowledge of how Bill Wilson’s grandfather Wilson had a mountaintop religious
experience, was saved, and was cured of alcoholism for the remaining 8 years of his life.
(4) A knowledge that both Rowland Hazard and Ebby Thacher were converted to God through accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior—two men that had much to do with the Oxford Group ideas Bill later codified in the 12 Steps.
(5) A knowledge that Dr. William D. Silkworth told his patient Bill W. that the “Great Physician” Jesus Christ could cure him of his alcoholism.
(6) A knowledge that Bill Wilson soon went to the altar at Calvary Mission in New York and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior—as confirmed by 4 people.
(7) A knowledge that Bill wrote in his own autobiography: “For sure, I’d been born again.”
(8) A knowledge of the “golden text of A.A.” which Bill wrote in what is now the 4th edition of Alcoholics Anonymous: “Henrietta, the Lord has been so wonderful to me curing me of this terrible disease that I just want to keep talking about it and telling people.”
(9) An understanding that, when Bill had his vital religious experience in his Towns Hospital room, he saw a blazing, indescribably white light fill his room; sensed the presence of Spirit; thought: “Bill, you are a free man. This is the God of the Scriptures;” stopped doubting God; and never drank again.
(10) A knowledge of the prayer meeting in Akron prior to the meeting of Bob and Bill and prior to the founding of A.A. in June, 1935, where Dr. Bob and his friends dropped to their knees and prayed for his deliverance from alcoholism.
(11) A knowledge that Dr. Bob (after he met Bill in Akron and after Bill moved in with Dr. Bob and his family in the summer of 1935) had heard Bill say he was cured of alcoholism, and (after his own last drink) himself said that he had been cured of alcoholism, and then ended his personal story in the Big Book: “Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!”
(12) A knowledge of how, immediately upon his discharge from Towns Hospital, Bill ran around feverishly to the Bowery, flea bag hotels, Bellevue Hospital, Towns Hospital, Oxford Group meetings, and drunks in the street; and that Bill had a Bible under his arm, telling every drunk he could find that he must give his life to God—with Bill’s then relating his own story.
(13) The growing proof that Ebby never said to Bill: “choose your own conception of God” and that this alleged language was written by an unidentified hand and inserted in the typed Big Book printer’s manuscript just before the Big Book went to press.
(14) A knowledge that Bill, his wife Lois,, and others were constantly going to Oxford Group meetings; that Bill participated in a Calvary Church processional led by Rev. Shoemaker—with a member carrying a sign “Jesus Christ changes lives—and went to Madison Square, got on a soap box, and witnessed to others.
(15) Knowing that it was Rev. Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., who urged Bill—even when Bill was, at first, getting nobody sober—to work with drunks, witness, and continue to do so. Just as Bill then did when he went to Akron and relentlessly sought a drunk to help there.
(16) A knowledge of the real origins of the “Four Absolutes” in the writings of professors Robert E. Speer and Henry B. Wright.
(17) A knowledge of the biblical origins of A.A. expressions like First Things First, Easy Does It, One Day at a Time, and But for the Grace of God.
(18) A knowledge of the critical necessity and importance of hospitalization for early AAs.
(19) A knowledge of the influence of the Oxford Group’s 5 C’s (Confidence, Confession, Conviction, Conversion, and Continuance) on A.A.’s 12 Step content.
(20) The wide participation in and observance by varied pre-A.A. Christians of “Quiet Time,” “Quiet Hour,” “Morning Watch,” and devotionals like The Runner’s Bible, Upper Room, My Utmost for His Highest among A.A.’s sources; how they found their way into the original Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship program, and then into the Eleventh Step of Bill’s new version of the program in the 1939 Steps.
(21) A knowledge of the content and purpose of regarding as “absolutely essential” the Book of James, Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, 1 Corinthians 13
(22) An understanding and knowledge of how much the Christian upbringing of Bill and Bob influenced the original Akron A.A. program as well as Bill’s “new version” embodied in the Twelve Steps.
(23) An understanding of exactly how and why the first three AAs got sober.
(24) An understanding of the whole panoply of pre-A.A. influences in Vermont—influences of Ebby Thacher, Rowland Hazard, F. Shepard Cornell, Cebra Graves, Cebra’s father Judge Graves, Rev. Sidney K. Perkins, Bertha Bamford and her family, Mark Whalon, the Griffith family, the Wilson family, even the Burnham family of Lois Wilson.
(25) A realization that A.A. ultimately adopted effective principles and practices that were used and typical long before A.A. in: (a) the Young Men’s Christian Association, (b) the Gospel Rescue Missions; (c) the “Great Awakening of 1875” in St. Johnsbury, Vermont; (d) Congregationalism; (e) the great evangelists like Dwight L. Moody, Ira Sankey, Francis Clark, Allen Folger, F. B. Meyer, Amos Wells and Henry Drummond; the United Christian Endeavor Society; and later the Oxford Group itself
(26) A knowledge of the Christian training, biblical studies, sermons, Scripture reading, hymns, church services, and prayer meetings that Dr. Bob and later Bill W. attended or participated in.
(27) A knowledge that the Academies (St. Johnsbury for Dr. Bob; Burr and Burton Seminary for Bill; and Norwich University for Bill) had daily chapel; that this included sermons, reading of Scripture, prayers, and hymns; that all students were required to attend church (usually a Congregational one), and a Bible study; that Bill W. took a four year Bible study course at Burr and Burton Seminary; that Dr. Bob and his family were much involved in the Young Men’s Christian Association, that Bill was president of the Burr and Burton YMCA, and his girl-friend Bertha was president of the YWCA there.
(28) Learning the original Akron A.A. Christian fellowship Group Number One program, summarized in 7 points, and printed on page 131 of DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers.
(29) The sixteen practices of the Akron A.A. pioneers that implemented the 7 point program; and are laid out in “Stick with the Winners” by Dick B. and Ken B.
(30) The contents of the journal and the morning quiet times of Anne Ripley Smith (Dr. Bob’s wife), who recorded in and taught from them during 1933-1939 the principles and practices she gleaned from the Bible, Oxford Group, and Christian literature she recommended.
(31) The specific principles and ideas found in the large number of books read by Dr. Bob, recommended by him, and distributed by him to the early Akron A.A. pioneers.
(32) The specific ideas of early A.A. that Bill W. gleaned from the writings of Professor William James on the variety of religious experiences.
(33) The essence of what Dr. Carl Jung told Rowland Hazard, and later Bill W., about conversion as a possible solution to alcoholism for those with the mind of a chronic alcoholic that had rendered them “medically” incurable.
(34) The immense influences of Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr. on Bill Wilson’s formulation of his new version of the A.A. recovery program.
(35) The fact that Bill Wilson asked Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr. to write the Twelve Steps; but that Shoemaker declined, telling Bill they should be written by an alcoholic, namely Bill.
(36) The real picture of what Shoemaker did, wrote, and said about the ideas of the Big Book and Steps.
(37) The immense influence of some 28 Oxford Group ideas which, like the Shoemaker ideas, found their way into the actual language of the Big Book and Steps.
(38) The exact details of and their sources on the subject of Quiet Time.
(39) The position of the early Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship on belief in God, and on “surrender” to Him through accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
(40) The sources and meaning of the strange phrases like “higher power,” “Power greater than ourselves,” “God as we understood Him,” “spirituality,” and “spiritual but not religious.”
(41) The cures that early Akron AAs claimed, wrote about, and widely publicized.
(42) The nonsense gods, self-made religion, and half-baked prayers that emerged after the changes in the Big Book text; the new language introduced in 1939 in the wording of the Twelve Steps; the original view of Bill on God (using an unqualified and undeniable description of “the God of the Scriptures”); and the compromise with atheists and agnostics that took place just before the Big Book went to print in 1939.
(43) The rapid growth, exact program, and recorded successes of the Cleveland A.A. group founded by Clarence Snyder in 1939.
(44) The best information on the “counting of noses” in 1937, the success rates Bill and Bob counted and recorded thereafter, and the real early Akron A.A. group record.
(45) The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous.
(46) The testimonies of Christian deliverance found in the personal stories of the pioneers in the First Edition of the Big Book—stories that were removed from AAs’ view for years.
(47) The importance of the First Edition of the Big Book when Bill’s new version of the program is compared with what the pioneers testified had happened in the personal stories.
(48) The importance and purpose of the personal stories in the Big Book, and the restoration of these to a conference-approved book many many years after early A.A.
(49) The practices of First Century Christians as recorded in the Book of Acts.
(50) The various people—including some Congregational leaders, the Rockefeller group, Frank Amos, Lois Wilson, and Dr. Bob--who specifically likened the principles and practices of the First Century Christians to the early Akron pioneer group which Dr. Bob called a “Christian Fellowship.”
(51) The heart of the Christian Endeavor program in which Dr. Bob and his family were involved in St. Johnsbury, and how much early A.A. principles and practices seem to have embodied that program in the Akron program and their special “Christian technique” (as Rockefeller’s agent Frank Amos described it).
(52) The emphasis on daily prayers, listening to the Word of God, witnessing, breaking bread together, gathering in the homes and temple daily, the healings, and the conversions and growth in numbers of the First Century Christians.
(53) The many comparisons of early Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship practices as well as those of the Congregational churches of the Bill W.-Dr. Bob youth to those of First Century Christianity.
(54) The frequency of biblical words like God, Creator, Maker, Father, Heavenly Father, Father of Lights, and God of our fathers in the Big Book in all editions.
(55) The critical importance of beginning one’s journey on the path to recovery by mastering the contents of A.A. General Services Conference-approved literature such as the Big Book, The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous Pamphlet P-53, RHS—the Grapevine Memorial on Dr. Bob’s death, Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, “Pass It On,” The Language of the Heart, and the Best of the Grapevine editions..
(56) How to restore, incorporate, apply, and utilize “old school” Akron A.A. principles and practices in 12-Step programs today for those who are Christians, want God’s help, or want to learn and know what pioneer AAs did to attain complete cures they claimed.
(57) Why the new “broad highway” open to atheists and agnostics and those of other than Christian religious persuasions in no way excludes their unbelieving views or excludes the privileges of Christians and other believers in God to seek His help and healing as the “abc’s” of A.A. clearly suggest can be done.
(58) The evidence—underlined by the numerous statements by William D. Silkworth, M.D.--that alcoholism and addiction can be cured by the power of God versus the claims that these maladies are still incurable and the borrowed from Richard Peabody allegation that--as occurred in the case of the “choose your own conception of god” insertion once again “added”) that “once an alcoholic always an alcoholic”—despite the crystal clear statements by both Bill Wilson and Bill Dotson (A.A. Number Three) on page 191 of the 4th edition of the Big Book that “the Lord” had “cured” them of their terrible disease.
(59) How to cope with the insults, intimidation, and attacks of various AAs in A.A. meetings when an A.A. Christian or believer mentions God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, or religion.
(60) Using Conference-approved literature to phrase and frame such defensive but warranted remarks.
(61) Learning the real answer to the efforts within A.A. groups to ban or prevent the use and mention of any but “conference-approved literature.”
(62) Learning the relevance of the Twelve Traditions (including the Long Form) in dealing with comments about what AAs can believe, can read, can study, and can discuss in their meetings.
(63) Using the powerful expression “a loving God as He may express Himself” when opening, conducting, deciding, and recording an “informed group conscience” by a group.
(64) Understanding the number of times, A.A.’s own literature emphasizes that there are no laws, rulers, rules, governors, officers, trustees, or employees who control or decide what A.A. members and groups and meetings can discuss, read, or bring to meetings.
(65) Understanding there is no “index of forbidden books,” no “Conference-disapproved” literature in the A.A. lexicon, and nothing in the phrase “conference-approved” that bestows control of groups and reading by A.A. officers, employees, delegates, office managers, and trustees.
(66) Dealing with listings in A.A. meeting schedules when notifying A.A. offices of the name of a group, its purpose, and what it will conduct.
(67) Knowing the amount of A.A.-related literature that is published, distributed, sold, and discussed—literature like the Cleveland Central Bulletin, the AA of Akron pamphlets, the Bible, books about A.A. sources, the founders of A.A., the way to “take” the Steps,” what the meaning of words and phrases in the Big Book and A.A. literature is.
(68) Knowing exactly what the founders and early AAs did, wrote, and said that can help today and yet is often spurned, criticized, or hindered in use by A.A. members who mistakenly or intentionally cite some alleged Tradition or “Conference-approved” rule.
(69) In A.A. meetings, groups, and conferences, the things that newcomers are missing today.
(70) In A.A. meetings, groups, and conferences the things that sponsors are not doing today.
(71) In the A.A. fellowship today, how newcomers can be introduced effectively to the vital parts of all these principles.
(72) In the A.A. fellowship today, how AAs themselves can be urged to script and use more effective orientation, indoctrination, or beginner’s meetings to start the newcomer off on his path with a full quiver of arrows.
(73) Knowledge of the variety of viewpoints on the origins of the Twelve Steps—those of Bill Wilson, those of Dr. Bob, those of A.A. “cofounder” Rev. Sam Shoemaker, and others.
(74) Knowledge of the exact contributing sources to the language of the Big Book and Twelve Steps.
(75) And there are more!
What Does “Forever” Mean in Reference to the Dick B. A.A. History Books and Articles?
Surely there will be much more reading, study, and research in the future. Not only by me, but also by those who recognize that the lacuna has not been filled and is still voluminous. A.A. frequently publishes promotional materials, pamphlets, guidelines, and other writings that are not binding on any person, meeting, group, or conference. But A.A. never intended to write a complete history or become a research organization, nor did Bill W. or Dr. Bob or practically all the “historians” that have dipped their toes into this or that subject. Or, if they tried, they left out subjects intentionally, failed to do the extensive traveling and interviewing necessary to a reliable account, or were not willing to consult with colleagues and researchers for more information before pushing their own particular subject and attendant conclusions.
The reason I have called the books in my 29 volume reference set the “Forever Books” is that they provide as complete a foundation for useful recovery enhancement today as my continuous efforts have made it possible for me to unearth.
The suggestions, facts, citations, and discoveries set forth in these foundational books should keep readers going for years and years. And challenge many to search further, analyze further, report further, and utilize further.
Relapses, recidivism, “slips,” and further “returns” to the bottle or needle are commonplace today—in and outside of A.A., treatment, and religious endeavors, and probably always have been. But that does not mean they are the norm, the aim, the goal, or the desired result. Early AAs were pressed to be “teetotalers.” Later they were urged to attain the status of “recovered” and to tell precisely how they recovered. They were also invited to tell, from their own standpoint and their own language, how they established their relationship with God. Their solution—as embodied in page 25 of the Fourth Edition of the Big Book—does not include failure. It includes what the Creator can do when sought.
Recovery needs to be sought, worked for, published, and cherished. The Forever Books—all 29 of them—can provide you with the tools that many years of A.A. experience and successes have used. Recovery needs to be studied, learned, and applied one bite at a time. But it should not be read or quoted or founded on subjective bits and pieces that do not fit with the whole. It’s meant to lead to the kind of cure Bill Wilson described on page 191 of today’s Big Book edition. It’s to let you select the pieces as desired and know that they will fit together when your study is completed.
For information on the books, orders, or content, contact Dick B. at 808 874 4876, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also contact Ken B. at 808 276 4945. Or you may find additional contact information on www.dickb.com.