Foreword to First Edition of "Alcoholics Anonymous"

The book Alcoholics Anonymous, aka The Big Book, is the basic text for the AA program of sobriety. "Alcoholics Anonymous" Copyright 2012 AAWS, Inc. All Rights, Reserved. Short excerpts used by permission of AAWS

Foreword to First Edition of "Alcoholics Anonymous"

Postby leejosepho » Tue Feb 28, 2012 6:00 pm

Foreword to first edition of "Alcoholics Anonymous"
(thread three in a series of several)

Foreword I online: http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/en_bigbook_forewordfirstedition.pdf

Foreword to First Edition

This is the Foreword as it appeared in the first printing of the first edition in 1939.

WE, OF Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book. For them, we hope these pages will prove so convincing that no further authentication will be necessary. We think this account of our experiences will help everyone to better understand the alcoholic. Many do not comprehend that the alcoholic is a very sick person. And besides, we are sure that our way of living has its advantages for all ...

"WE, OF Alcoholics Anonymous ..." << our ad-hoc "Society" mentioned in our book's Preface
"... more than one hundred men and women ..." << true today even if questionable in 1939

"... who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body."

"Doubtless you are curious to discover how and why, in the face of expert opinion to the contrary,
we have recovered from a hopeless condition of mind and body." (page 20)
"... and have been given the power to help others." (page 132)

============================================================

"To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book."

"We shall bring to the task our combined experience and knowledge." (page 19)
"Further on, clear-cut directions are given showing how we recovered." (page 29)

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"... we hope these pages will prove so convincing that no further authentication will be necessary."

"... a subject which is covered in such masterly detail in these pages." (Dr. Silkworth)

============================================================

"We think this account of our experiences will help everyone to better understand the alcoholic."

"We hope this volume will inform and comfort those who are, or who may be affected." (page 18)

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"Many do not comprehend that the alcoholic is a very sick person."

"Many of us felt that we had plenty of character. There was a tremendous urge to cease forever. Yet we found it impossible. This is the baffling feature of alcoholism as we know it - this utter inability to leave it alone, no matter how great the necessity or the wish." (page 34)

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"And besides, we are sure that our way of living has its advantages for all."

"... anyone or everyone interested in a spiritual way of life." (page 160)

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...

When writing or speaking publicly about alcoholism, we urge each of our Fellowship to omit his personal name, designating himself instead as “a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.”

Very earnestly we ask the press also, to observe this request ...

We are not an organization in the conventional sense of the word. There are no fees or dues whatsoever. The only requirement for membership is an honest desire to stop drinking. We are not allied with any particular faith, sect or denomination, nor do we oppose anyone. We simply wish to be helpful to those who are afflicted ...

© Copyright 2012 Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.
All Right Reserved

"When writing or speaking publicly about alcoholism, we urge each of our Fellowship to omit his personal name, designating himself instead as 'a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.'"

"Our relations with the general public should be characterized by personal anonymity ... better to let our friends recommend us." (Tradition Eleven)

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"We are not an organization in the conventional sense of the word."

"... fellowships of Alcoholics Anonymous may spring up in each city and hamlet ..." (page 153)

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"There are no fees or dues whatsoever. The only requirement for membership is an honest desire to stop drinking."

"... no fees to pay, no axes to grind, no people to please, no lectures to be endured ..." (page 18)

============================================================

"We are not allied with any particular faith, sect or denomination, nor do we oppose anyone. We simply wish to be helpful to those who are afflicted."

"... whatever the human frailties of various faiths may be ... have given purpose and direction to millions." (page 49)
"We are dealing only with general principles common to most denominations." (page 94)

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forum link to the beginning of this series of threads: viewtopic.php?f=31&t=9572 "Beginning at the beginning ..."

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This thread is now open for discussion!
Last edited by leejosepho on Thu Sep 24, 2015 7:59 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Foreword to First Edition of "Alcoholics Anonymous"

Postby PaigeB » Wed Feb 29, 2012 12:42 am

I love reading these absolute words: have recovered... precisely how... clear-cut directions..prove so convincing... (versus) utter inability...

It really gave me great hope that the authors were SO SURE... and all I had was an utter inability. They are "sure that our way of living has its advantages". I surely concur!
Step 6 is "AA's way of stating, the best possible attitude one can take in order to make a beginning on this lifetime job... with most of them we shall have to be content with patient improvement." 12&12 Step Six, p.65
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Re: Foreword to First Edition of "Alcoholics Anonymous"

Postby leejosepho » Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:07 am

PaigeB wrote:I love reading these absolute words: have recovered... precisely how... clear-cut directions..prove so convincing... (versus) utter inability...

It really gave me great hope that the authors were SO SURE... and all I had was an utter inability. They are "sure that our way of living has its advantages". I surely concur!

The word "recovering" actually does appear once in our book:

"Our women folk have suggested certain attitudes a wife may take with the husband who is recovering ..." (page 122)

Being at the beginning of, and within the context of that chapter, that word can almost only mean "becoming recovered".

And then where Bill had written "Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path" (page 58), I have since heard he later said that is actually never ... but that he had written that as he had lest some alcoholic try to prove him wrong!
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================
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Re: Foreword to First Edition of "Alcoholics Anonymous"

Postby PaigeB » Wed Feb 29, 2012 9:32 pm

I see Bill's reasoning - I would sure take up that sort of implied "dare".
Step 6 is "AA's way of stating, the best possible attitude one can take in order to make a beginning on this lifetime job... with most of them we shall have to be content with patient improvement." 12&12 Step Six, p.65
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Re: Foreword to First Edition of "Alcoholics Anonymous"

Postby Jaywalker Steve » Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:16 pm

It sure is awesome to be a small part of something as incredible as WE. Thank you for the emphasis leejosepho!

And like Paige, I love the use of strong words like "... who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body." If I stay a part of the WE and do what WE do on a daily basis, I can stay recovered.

I've also heard about 'Rarely v Never'. From what I've gathered it's more of a Fellowship Myth. There's a great source of online AA history at barefootsworld (search) along with 'Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age', 'Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers' and 'Pass it On' among others.
Every group has men and women who put too much thought and effort into their daily sobriety and not enough of themselves into their daily living. - Ed B., Akron, OH
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Re: Foreword to First Edition of "Alcoholics Anonymous"

Postby Karl R » Sun Mar 04, 2012 9:32 am

We shall be interested to hear from those who are getting results from this book, particularly from those who have commenced work with other alcoholics. We should like to be helpful to such cases.


The WE of Alcoholics Anonymous. When I first read Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers I was struck by how much comparing of "results" the oldtimers did. Comparing approaches and results in an attempt to be helpful.

later,
Karl
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Re: Foreword to First Edition of "Alcoholics Anonymous"

Postby WHO » Tue Mar 06, 2012 2:45 pm

This is how I was taken through the big book and this is how I began to have an experience with the Big Book. I use to interpret the big book my way, by doing it this way I came to see what the Big Book was saying to me.

IV) FOREWORD TO FIRST EDITION
A) Glossary
1) account, anonymous, authentication, avocation, experience(s), hopeless, precisely, purpose, recovered
B) Knowledge
1) Pg. xiii: Here is where the book describes what we “recover” from. Explains this is “our way of living” to stay sober for good, not our way to quit drinking.
a) Who recovered? One hundred men and women
b) What did they recover from? From a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body
c) What is the main purpose of the book? To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered
d) What do they hope? We hope these pages will prove so convincing that no further authentication will be necessary.
e) What is this an account of? An account of our experiences
f) Who do these experiences help? Will help everyone
g) What do many not comprehend? Many do not comprehend that the alcoholic is a very sick person.
h) What are they sure of? That our way of living has its advantages for all
i) What is important? It is important that we remain anonymous / (not becoming a somebody in AA self effacement )
j) What is our alcoholic work? Our alcoholic work is an avocation.
k) What do they urge me to do? We urge each of our Fellowship to omit his personal name,

The personal questions (My story)
1)Do I believe I can become recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body? Yes
2) Have I recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body? Yes (the mental obsession has been removed)
3) Do I know the main purpose of the book is to show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered? Yes
4) Do I know how to show other alcoholics precisely how to become recovered alcoholics? Yes
5) Do I show other alcoholics precisely how to recover? Yes / I use the book
6) Have the pages in this book proved to me that no further authentication will be necessary? Yes
7) Do I share that hope with other alcoholics? Yes
8) Do I think this account of my experiences, using the ‘Big Book’ as text, will help everyone to better understand the alcoholic? Yes I think so
9) Do I understand that I, the untreated alcoholic, is a very sick person? Yes Absolutely
10) Am I sure that this way of life has advantages for me and everyone else? Yes
11) Am I willing to handle the overwhelming number of personal appeals which may result from doing what’s in this book? Yes I am willing
12) Do I understand that my alcoholic work is an avocation? Yes
*…recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.
*…our way of living has it advantages for all.


2) Pg. xiv
a) What is the only requirement for membership? An honest desire to stop drinking / (honest has been dropped from the third tradition).
b) What do we wish? We simply wish to be helpful to those who are afflicted.
c) What do we welcome? Inquiry by scientific, medical and religious societies will be welcomed

Personal Questions
1) Do I understand that the only requirement for membership is not the only requirement to stay sober and have a spiritual awakening? Yes I have come to see that there is more than an honest desire to stay sober and have a spiritual awakening
2) Do I simply wish to be helpful to those afflicted with alcoholism? Yes
3) Do I welcome inquiry by scientific, medical, and religious societies? Yes

Some notes from my sponsor
IV) FOREWORD TO THE FIRST EDITION (PG. xiii – xiv)
B) The first 100 men and women who have recovered from a hopeless state of mind and body, wrote our basic text, the BB of AA. The reason they wrote the BB of AA is to show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered. They said that their experience of recovery from alcoholism with this book was so convincing that no further authentication (i.e. dilution, convolution, changes, etc.) would be needed. They also tell us that this account will help everyone (alanon, alateen, acoa, etc.) better understand the alcoholic. This book has been the grandfather of hundreds of different 12 Step programs that have nothing to do with drinking.
C) The Foreword to the First Edition also states that the “only requirement for membership is an honest desire to stop drinking”. However, this isn’t the only requirement for permanent sobriety and have a spiritual awakening as the result of steps 1 – 11. There are many “musts”, “have to’s”, “had to’s”, “has to’s”, necessities, requirements, we believe’s, and so forth. (I found this very interesting for me about the musts, have to's, had to's etc)

Yours in Sobriety
Julieanne
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Re: Foreword to First Edition of "Alcoholics Anonymous"

Postby leejosepho » Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:32 pm

WHO wrote: B) Knowledge
1) Pg. xiii: Here is where the book describes what we “recover” from. Explains this is “our way of living” to stay sober for good, not our way to quit drinking.
...
The personal questions (My story)
5) Do I show other alcoholics precisely how to recover? Yes / I use the book

The choir is now singing ...

Thank you, Julieanne, great voice!
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================
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