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The Thinking Person's Guide to Sobriety [Paperback]

Bert Pluymen
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 10, 2000 0312254288 978-0312254285 1st
Answering yes to these questions sparked Pluymen's realization that life could be so much more fulfilling if he was sober. This book is Bert Pluymen's story of struggle and triumph over alcohol addiction. It also contains insightful, witty, uplifting, and wryly humorous stories of the many people Pluymen met who were also searching for sobriety. This is an informative book that will shed new light on how alcohol abuse can ruin people's lives--even if they thought it could never happen to them.

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Pluymen, once named one of the best lawyers in America, turns his attention from the law to write a thoroughly engaging, yet thought-provoking book on alcoholism. He is careful to point out that alcoholism is not just a disease of the down and out, but of the rich and famous and everyone in-between. Although his approach contains a good touch of humor, he remains fully cognizant of the seriousness of his subject. He mixes both facts on alcoholism and stories of alcoholics from different walks of life and at various stages of recovery. A particularly valuable chapter is "Wake-up Call for Women." Here he warns that not only are women at increased risk because of their drinking, but they suffer much more for drinking far less than men. For them, alcohol can become lethal after just two drinks. This is scary stuff, but through both the stories and his own tips, Pluymen shows those in the grip of this deadly disease a clear and effective way out. Marlene Chamberlain --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A vital tool for awakening the alcohol-abusing professional." --Dr. Frank Sadlack, Ph.D., executive director of La Hacienda Treatment Center

"The section on women [and alcohol] is especially good." --Ann W. Richards, former governor of Texas

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (January 10, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312254288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312254285
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #801,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bert's guide to being a rich drunk August 16, 2005
By Mike B.
I was looking forward to getting this book because, like Bert Pluyman, I'm a recovering alcoholic lawyer who lives in Austin! But, I was pretty disappointed.

The first half of the book is basically Bert's autobiography, including entries from his journal. It's replete with stories about his enormous wealth, his career success, his jet-setting playboy lifestyle, and his sexual conquests. Oh, and did I mention that he was captain of the high school football team, a great rugby and soccer player, and ran 3 miles a day even while drinking? Well, if I didn't mention it, Bert certainly does. Often. Of course, smattered amongst that are notes about how he would get drunk a lot and have bad hangovers.

Once you have choked down all the desciptions of life on the French Riviera and his big house in Westlake Hills, Bert informs us that there are studies out there showing a link between genetics and alcoholism (wow, no kidding!) and that substance abuse can cause heart problems (I had no idea). Mixed in are various platitudes from the Big Book, some attributed, some not. The second half of the book mostly consists of various testimonials from other drunks, a la Big Book, some of which were a little more helpful to those of us that don't own Ferraris. Tony's story in particular was quite moving to me. But, it wasn't worth reading the whole book.

The title implies that this book takes a more secular approach to sobriety. That's not the case, as Bert tells us "hey, you use electricity all the time without understanding it, don't you? You can do the same with God!" Where have I heard that before?

To summarize, this book is self-indulgent hack.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Basically an intro to AA, with some testimonials May 5, 2005
Because of the title and other factors I was expecting a non-religious approach to alcoholism. But that is not what this book is. It is the story of one guy who didn't think he could possibly be an alcoholic, and how after some ups and downs discovered that he wanted to stop drinking and found great value in AA. He avoids discussing Christianity but a big part of his story is his improved relationship with what he calls God.

In other words, reading this book is a lot like just going to an AA meeting, where people every day tell the same story. As such, the book has value in the same way AA has value. And on those terms it is moderately useful, even including chapters in which some third parties tell their drinking stories, just like in AA. But in terms of rationality, this is no more a "thinking person's" book than any other. If you're looking for a secular book on alcohol recovery, keep looking.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best current book for high-bottom drunks September 26, 1999
By A Customer
Bert Pluymen's The Thinking Person's Guide to Sobriety is the best book I've seen regarding high-bottom alcoholics, those bright and successful people who have not yet qualified to tell lurid war stories and who therefore assume the early luxury of comparing themselves out the doors of many AA meetings. I've been a chemical dependency counselor for twenty-three years, and I still shudder when an attorney or social worker lands on my caseload and tells me everything that isn't wrong with him, little or nothing that is - except the documented complaints that forced him or her into treatment - and looks blank when asked the standard assessment questions that focus on obvious physical, psychological, behavioral, social and spiritual consequences. I believe that Mr. Pluymen has just given us an invaluable resource, and I may be using it for client homework assignments.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Personal Life Saver February 22, 2004
By A Customer
At 46, I was a successful business owner with a beautiful home and good marriage. I also drank every evening and as a result had trouble sleeping. I was exhausted most of the time and often unpleasant to be around. Even so, I wasn't sure I qualified as an alcoholic. I saw this book and the title spoke to me. After reading the first few pages, I knew I'd found a soul mate in Bert. His story of being a high-level, functioning alcoholic was similar to mine. I had stayed away from AA due to the "God" thing. But, I started going to meetings 5 years ago because of this book. Now, I have my own interpretation of a higher power. I don't call it God or feel the need to join a religion or go to church. To each his/her own. What I have found in AA is a method for dealing with life's problems and a measure of serenity never before known to me. Life still happens, and good and bad things come my way, but I no longer need to numb unpleasant thoughts at night with alcohol. Read this book if you have any doubt about your drinking.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Changed Three Lives Directly in Thirteen Months November 25, 2003
By A Customer
On October 29th, 2002, I begrudgingly bought this book upon the recommendation of my therapist. It was, without a doubt, the most powerful and life-altering read I had ever experienced. Two days later, I quit drinking and I just passed my 12 month mark. I have recommended this book to two other close friends, and both have successfully given up alcohol and are now FREE from its bonds. If you are a highly functioning (well, at least you believe that you are) drinker, this is a must read. You can be fooled no longer after reading Bert's story, and the myriad anecdotes of others. Do yourself, and those that love you, a huge favor, buy this book, read it, and WAKE UP!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Only for those whom are holier than thou...
This book is written from a "know it all" philosophy... The Author is a "renounced" lawyer- Which contains many illustrations that can make an alcoholic modest and... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Richard Ingram
3.0 out of 5 stars Gift
For someone who was struggling with alcoholism in her family. Not sure how she felt about the book; it was one of several books purchased and given away.
Published 17 days ago by C. B. McKenzie
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book/
I use this book with a lot of my clients and those that have a lot of ambiguity/contemplation going on about their drinking.
Published 15 months ago by Chris
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignore the nay-sayers, this book is worth its weight in gold
I found this book many years ago and have given away at least 20 copies to people who thought they might have a problem with alcohol. Read more
Published on March 14, 2012 by E. Daly
5.0 out of 5 stars The Thinking Person's Guide to Sobriety
Good info for someone who has NOT hit rock bottom and doesn't want to...for someone who may be in denial about heading down that path...
Published on September 7, 2010 by GA Mom
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read Which Makes You THINK!
I found this book to be an excellent addition to the the AA Big Book. The author isn't nearly as "dry" or antiquated as the BB, in his writing, and the book is a great, up-to-date... Read more
Published on May 6, 2009 by Jae
5.0 out of 5 stars Ever give up drinking for a few weeks to make a point?
I'm in my 50's, spent 20+ years working in middle management in Fortune 500 companies, rarely even got hangovers, but was worried that I was drinking too much. Read more
Published on September 29, 2006 by GCP
3.0 out of 5 stars There are alternatives for thinking people
Good personal stories included in this book.

However he gives little voice to recovery programs other than 12 step programs like AA.
Published on August 7, 2006 by R. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read; a good beginning
I heard about this book on the website. This a must read for an intelligent person who is serious about never drinking again. Read more
Published on March 10, 2006 by Fresh Air
5.0 out of 5 stars Berts life saver!
By the time I found Berts book I was already aware of my dependency on alcohol. I work in a responsible medical environment, but never allowed alcohol to affect my work. Read more
Published on August 30, 2005 by Phil H
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