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Not God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous Paperback – April 1, 1991


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Not God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous + The Spirituality of Imperfection: Storytelling and the Search for Meaning + Drop the Rock: Removing Character Defects - Steps Six and Seven
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Hazelden; First Thus edition (April 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0894860658
  • ISBN-13: 978-0894860652
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Ernie Kurtz received his Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization from Harvard University in 1978. His doctoral dissertation was published as the book, Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous. Since then, he has published The Spirituality of Imperfection, and the booklet, Shame and Guilt: Characteristics of the Dependency Cycle. He has also published a number of articles, both scholarly and popular, on topics related to his interests and has lectured nationally and internationally on subjects related to the academic study of spirituality. Some of his articles have been published in the 1999 book, The Collected Ernie Kurtz. Dr. Kurtz taught American History and the History of Religion in America at the University of Georgia and Loyola University of Chicago. From 1978 to 1997, he served on the faculty of the Rutgers University Summer School of Alcohol Studies and from 1987 to 1997 as a lecturer at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. After a brief stint as Director of Research and Education at Guest House, then an alcoholism treatment facility for Catholic clergy, Ernie retired to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and began taking classes in the School of Information at the University of Michigan. He continued to travel widely offering presentations until late 1997, when a botched medical procedure led to spinal surgery that only partially restored his ability to stand and walk. Noting that "it is ironic that I now walk like a drunk," Ernie now devotes time to the intricacies and possibilities of electronic research in this field.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 49 customer reviews
It will provide the experienced 12 stepper further understanding of their program.
Chuck Nefzger
I also found refreshing Kurtz's resistance to the hagiography or iconoclasm that usually accompanies histories of Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, AA's co-founders.
Peregrino
It is filled with detail after detail so it can be a difficult read at times but is well worth the effort...
ProDocJazz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Robert W. Smith VINE VOICE on August 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
well, in my opinion, kurtz accomplished a quite difficult undertaking. it started out as a doctoral dissertation and it was revised a bit for public reading. kurtz describes some of the earliest history of Alcoholics Anonymous. more than that, he examines the underlying cultural evolution that led to the foundation of AA (e.g., the Oxford Movement). it examines a bit of the spread of AA in the USA and elsewhere. i think, perhaps, most importantly, kurtz discusses the psychological dynamics involved in overcoming an addiction, not by masterful tactics, but rather, humility, belief in some form of higher power. that humility, and the power of group processes and sponsorship's guidance, lead the active alcoholic into a potential life of great contributions in guiding others in their search for a way of living without living and finding a life of purpose. i liked it! it was well documented. i take issue with a couple of historical "facts", but, with 99.999% of the facts presented in this book, they appear accurate. this book is, in the words of an original AA'er, "rather pedantic", so, if you're not inclined to read scholarly stuff, it's probably not the most desirable of books to read. if, however, you enjoy scholarly texts, you are intrigued by AA and its history, then this book is very highly recommended. i give it an "A+".
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78 of 90 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
Good book without the mumbo jumbo that one usually finds on the subject. He tackles the question: "Is AA a cult" by describing the common characteristics of cults. A book for the thinking AA member and those interested in the background of a very influential movement that started in the USA and has spread over a large part of the developed world.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Peregrino on July 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is absolutely an essential history of AA. I would say, "THE essential history", but different people have different needs.

Like Dick B., I find Kurtz's footnotes to be a rich vein for further research. I also found refreshing Kurtz's resistance to the hagiography or iconoclasm that usually accompanies histories of Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, AA's co-founders.

It may be helpful to remember that Not God is a reworked dissertation in American Studies, not History. It is essentially academic, but Kurtz retains the ability to marvel at the mystery of the miraculous recoveries that have resulted from the rise of twelve-step programs.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Bookrook on August 28, 2004
Format: Paperback
Wonderfully insightful for all. Splendidly illustrates the history and formation of AA and it's painstaking growth through the early formative years of AA.

A great read!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By J. Bogna on August 16, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is by far the most in-depth history I have read to date on the A.A. program. Definitely not a fast read, it is written like a textbook. I am finding it very helpful in my quest to understand the origins of A.A., and what the organization has been through to bring it to it's current state as I know it.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
Kurtz masterfully captures the early days of AA. This book is a must read for students of the 12 Steps and anyone interested in this spiritual program of recovery that has improved the lives of millions. -- Frank D., Author of The Annotated AA Handbook
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Roger F. Mcmahon on September 22, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ernie Kurtz made a big research project for his doctorate and we are the recepients of a lot of history both written and in the oral tradition all put into one volumne. Not only a good read but a reference manual.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By anxious al on February 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
in depth history of aa beginnings, including much insight into the formative reasons for the successes and failures of this program. very helpful for someone new to aa, trying to grasp the essence of the program.
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