"The Big Book" of Alcoholics Anonymous
Preston Group

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Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism, ©1939, 1955, 1976, 2001

Affectionately called "The Big Book" within the A.A. fellowship, the book "Alcoholics Anonymous" was published in 1939 and describes how to recover from alcoholism.  It was written by Bill Wilson, one of the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, except for the chapter "To Employers" which was written by Henry ("Hank") Parkhurst. It is the originator of the "twelve-step" method of recovery widely used to treat many addictions, from alcoholism and heroin addiction to marijuana addiction, overeating, sex addiction, and gambling.

It is one of the best-selling books of all time, having sold over 60 million copies and translated into over 60 languages. In 2011, Time magazine placed the book on its list of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923, the year Time magazine began. In 2012, the Library of Congress designated it as one of 88 "Books that Shaped America."

Before the publication of Alcoholics Anonymous, alcoholism in America was viewed largely as it had been in the 19th century. The temperance movements of the 19th century and the recent experiment with Prohibition focused on the individual, promoted by “degenerationism, the theory that biological factors, toxic environmental influences or moral vices may trigger a cascade of social, moral and medical problems.” This theory was a holdover from the pre-Darwinian belief that offspring inherited acquired character traits from their parents. The increase in scientific knowledge in the early 20th century led to questions about this view of alcoholics, but the view still dominated for the first 30 years of the century.

The publication of Alcoholics Anonymous and the founding of A.A. was a decisive turn toward treating alcoholism as a primary disorder, and the Twelve Steps remain the most successful recovery program ever produced.

Download "The Big Book" (2 Mb Adobe pdf file)

Preston Group