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Publisher's Summary

In Writing the Big Book, William H. Schaberg presents an exciting, research-driven narrative of the history of the book, Alcoholic Anonymous, and the formative years of A.A. Granted extensive access to the group's archives along with several other sources, the author reveals the early Fellowship's conflicts and personalities, successes and failures, and dispels many of the myths found in such canonical texts as Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers, Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, and A Brief History of the Big Book.

The result of 11 years of in-depth research, Schaberg's history relies whenever possible on primary, real-time documents. He thoroughly investigates the book's authorship, illuminating the lesser-known contributions of figures like Hank Parkhurst and Frank Amos, and reveals how the spiritual side of the A.A. program evolved and was vigorously debated.

The book focuses primarily on the eighteen months between October of 1937, when a book was first proposed, and April of 1939, when Alcoholics Anonymous was published. During the span of those 18 months, the wealth of available archival materials provides for an almost week-by-week accounting of events, including an amazing amount of previously unreported details, resulting in a comprehensive and compelling story.

©2019 William H. Schaberg (P)2019 Tantor

What listeners say about Writing the Big Book

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

This is a TEXT BOOK. Be aware!

This book is a TEXT BOOK, and not an easy read. If not for the narrator’s really pleasant voice it would have been really tough to get through it, because I’m just not the textbook type and personally prefer books with a faster pace (even when the content is so important, like in this book!) If you can handle reading complex medical textbooks and research manuals front to back, this will be no problem. There are a lot of really dense footnotes about things that were just too much detail for me and constantly pulled me out of the story. Again: I’m just not the textbook type.

That said, I am blown away by the care and effort and time the author put into researching and putting together this incredibly meaningful and relevant history, and for that reason I did not give up and listened to this audiobook all the way through. I am very grateful for his effort and care. Thank you. I learned some amazing new things about AA’s history and my perspective will never be the same, in a great way.

And again, thank you for the excellent narration, as well.

5 people found this helpful

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New (real) History

This is a well researched historical book. It's sure to ruffle more than a few feathers. A lot of misinformation passed down over the years is mainly because very few ever researched the information such as Schaberg has. They just took it as being true and never questioned much of anything when it came to Bill or Dr. Bob. The absolute truth will never be known so what we are left with is what was more likely rather than less likely. This is the "more likely". The author kept well within the bounds of the title leaving out any of the other questionable dealings going on at the time or as a result of the book. Thus the 5 stars for the Story.
Having a female be the voice of Bill and Bob is at the very least a major distraction if not a slight. Imagine a male narrator for HRC's book! They might want to redo this one.

2 people found this helpful

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Brilliant research and Fascinating information

Bill Wilson was a good man, & a great writer. And, he & his friends lived fascinating lives. They were religious evangelists, who preached a simplistic form of monotheism. To this day, millions of people, throughout the 🌎, follow their beliefs, & it makes them happy. If anyone, is interested in AA, to any extent, then they will definitely enjoy this 📖 📕 📘 📗 📓 📚.

1 person found this helpful

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Outstanding ACCURATE presentation of how the 1st edition of the AA Big Book came in to being!

Having been around now with a couple of days of sobriety under my belt and having read just about every other Conference approved literature, I am fascinated with these facts and how they don’t necessarily jive with what most of us think happened. In no way whatsoever does this exhaustive review take anything away from the program of action. It is just a very interesting presentation of the facts as they actually occurred.

1 person found this helpful

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Annoying voice

I like the story and most of it i had not heard before even though I have been a member for a long time. It is annoying to have a person mimicking Bill’s voice (or other males) just have a male read it.

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BORING!

Reader sounds like she's straining to poop when doing male parts.
Annoying book.
Not necessary.

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A must listen about early AA

Detailed information, great narrator, fascinating subject.

In my almost 11 years of sobriety, I've read the big book from cover to cover at least 2 dozen times. I was intensely curious about how it was written and how early AA evolved from the Oxford group, and this book was a thorough treatment of that topic.

My opinion on the big book has vacillated from it being perfect, to being terribly flawed, finally settling on it being an inspired work, heavily edited, full of parables - but ultimately Bill Wilson's best effort that has endured for 80 years and nearly 40 million copies.

The book is 37+ hours, and took me a month to finish, but it doesn't pretend to be anything other than an exhaustive chronicle of every available document from late 1934 through spring of 1939, as well as significant original text that was ultimately edited and discarded. It's an incredible glimpse into human nature, motivation, and consensus building that is very objective without being unnecessarily critical of some very flawed human beings and how they transformed the world.

Ultimately, after finishing this audiobook, I'm in even greater awe of Bill and those pioneering AAs because the concept, idea, and book succeeded IN SPITE of their human shortcomings. I think that proves a power greater than themselves was involved.

This book is not for everybody, but for me it was well worth the time to listen to it all.

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Comprehensive history

This is a thorough, detailed, heavily annotated and footnoted account of the writing of the big book. It would be better if the narrator didn't launch into voice acting when quoting people, however. It is quite distracting and of poor quality. I have actually decided to simply read the book rather than listen to this narrator anymore.

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Exciting for readers of big book

The narrator does a good job. Yes she makes all her speakers seem very old, but at least we know that those words are in quotation. Otherwise she would need to say “quote, end quote” which would be much worse. Anyone who loves the big book will enjoy this history, and I find myself excited to listen further for a richer understanding of the text.

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Important history not so great narration

The narration is rough. For some reason makes every member of aa sound as if there an 80 year old man. Horribly distracting.

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  • Alan Jobling
  • 12-06-21

A must for anyone interested in AA Big Book histor

Having studied the BB for many years. This was high on my history research into how the book came about and has become THE source of recovery for so many.

Full of in depth facts, that do sometimes go against what I thought I knew. Yes its quite lengthy but I highly recommend for any AA enthusiasts.

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  • Client Kindle
  • 06-16-20

Excellent academic work

Incredibly well documented, for the serious student of early AA history who wishes to dig deeper than the creation myth offered by AA literature.