Alcoholics Anonymous (also known as the Big Book in recovery circles) sets forth cornerstone concepts of recovery from alcoholism and tells the stories of men and women who have overcome the disease. The fourth edition includes twenty-four new stories that provide contemporary sharing for newcomers seeking recovery from alcoholism in A.A. during the early years of the 21st century. Sixteen stories are retained from the third edition, including the "Pioneers of A.A." section, which helps the reader remain linked to A.A.'s historic roots, and shows how early members applied this simple but profound program that helps alcoholics get sober today. Approximately 21 million copies of the first three editions of "Alcoholics Anonymous" have been distributed. It is expected that the new fourth edition will play its part in passing on A.A.'s basic message of recovery. This fourth edition has been approved by the General Service Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous, in the hope that many more may be led toward recovery by reading its explanation of the A.A. program and its varied examples of personal experiences which demonstrate that the A.A. program works.
So when I was told I needed the Big Book to stop drinking I reluctantly purchased a copy and hied off the a Big Book meeting. It was unlike anything I've ever been to before and the book is nothing short of a miracle.
The author, Bill Wilson, was a hopeless alcoholic and non-practising Christian when he recieved divine inspiration and, having joined the Oxford group, bought the still-suffering alcoholic Dr Bob Smith to sobriety. The two men together founded alcoholics Anontymous in 1935.
One of Dr Bob's best friend was a Catholic priest, Father Edward Dowling, and he flirted with the church for many years without actually converting because, he said, AA could not be seen to ally itself to any one faith. Both Bob and Bill were Christians however, and the Big Book is a true reflection of the essence of Christ's teachings.
Surprisingly though, Jews and other non-Christians also see the book as being spiritual and encapsulating the messages of love central to their beliefs, while even athiests can recognise the humanist principals of treating others decently and doing the next best thing, and have no problem - after initial reservations - embracing the Big Book whole-heartedly.
To say a piece of writing is divinely inspired reeks of either anachronism or charlatanry: however, for a work to have save so many lives and to be all things to all men who really need it, argues the interception of a higher power. A wonderful work for everyone, not just alcoholics - not just addicts, unless your addiction is to living a good life.
“Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt”, it’s widespread, and it’s the greatest barrier. Once you can remind yourself what addiction is, whether it’s alcohol, the great classic addiction, or something more obscure, you can remind yourself that it’s not actually worth the price it imposes. Constantly you will forget; repeatedly you must be reminded.
The book is at times difficult to read, because of how it is written, which is more of a "stream of consciousness" style.
Some parts, I can not get into, but I find that if I just open the book to a random page and read, then there is some piece of knowledge/information there for me that I happen to need at the moment.
The "Big Book" has saved many lives...and I really believe that those of us who have loved ones living the steps could benefit from reading the book as well.
So my relatively low rating reflects my personal reaction and experience with a Twelve Step Program--even though I know millions have claimed this book and its principles saved their lives. And so pervasive are Twelve-Step groups, I'd argue that cultural literacy alone means you should be familiar with this book. And certainly many of the personal stories in this book are harrowing and riveting--and inspiring.