- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1st edition (March 16, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312200560
- ISBN-13: 978-0312200565
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 46 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,451,780 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Bill W.: A Biography of Alcoholics Anonymous Cofounder Bill Wilson 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Bill Wilson (1895-1971), the cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous, never saw himself as a saint. In a biography that is admiring without being hagiographic, first-time author Hartigan, one-time assistant to Bill's wife, Lois, reveals a man whose accomplishments seem all the more extraordinary because his demons were so strong. A depressive, a chronic womanizer, a man who could not quit smoking even as he choked to death from emphysema, Wilson was, according to Hartigan, motivated by real spiritual sincerity and purity of purpose when it came to AA. At 39, on the edge of death from alcoholism, Wilson was "struck sober" in an incandescent moment when he felt surrounded by divine presence. Inspired by the Oxford Group, a Christian movement that sought to kindle such experiences, the famous 12 steps that Wilson developed led to gradual spiritual transformation. This approach was built not on white light but on Wilson's bone-deep sense that life without a higher power was unmanageable. Wilson was born in a small town in Vermont to parents who divorced and scattered, leaving the boy to be raised by loving grandparents who could not assuage the permanent wound to Wilson's self-esteem. After the death of his high school girlfriend, the handsome, talented Wilson fell into an almost catatonic despair, a foreshadowing of the depression and self-doubt that would descend on him even at the height of his fame. Frank about Wilson's experiments with LSD, religion and psychotherapy, this unofficial bio will do much to help a wide readership appreciate how Wilson exemplified the way in which weakness can lead us to exhibit extraordinary strength. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
This intensely personal biography of Bill Wilson and the worldwide organization he cofounded looks at the man and the movement from the inside out. Hartigan, former secretary to Wilson's wife, Lois, used interviews with people close to Wilson to write this first full-dress treatment of him. Wilson's great insight was recognizing that alcohol was an illness that no one can conquer alone. Yet he lived a lonely life and has remained an elusive figure--until now. Hartigan repeats the well-known tale of Wilson's slide from successful stock analyst to drunken despair and his resurrection after cofounding AA. But he also paints a picture of a conflicted Wilson, at once arrogant and insecure, loyal to his friends yet unfaithful to his wife, sober but depressed. Despite a popular-magazine style, this book makes a long stride toward understanding the appeal of Wilson and AA's 12-step program. Recommended.
-Randall M. Miller, St. Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
I had just finished "Pass It On" (1984, before Lois' death) and read this biography (2000) to fill me in on details the earlier one had glossed over; I wasn't disappointed. One doesn't read "Bill W" for the writer's prose style, which is adequate to the job but not elegant.
What is shocking is the large number of errors/typos littering the ebook--over 30 by my count and easy to mark and track on the iPad. For example, the tombstone inscription says the soldier died from drinking "could [should be cold] small beer." I have no idea how this book was processed into Kindle, but they need a new process or an old-fashioned proofreader [like me].
The physical quality of this particular edition of the book is not the best. The print is sloppy throughout, the font size varies on each page, getting squeezed in the middle. This book has none of the photos of the original hardcover edition. It's almost as though someone did this on a cheap printer at home.
I gave this book 5 stars for what is written in it, not the quality of the paper, print, binding, etc ( which is cheesy at best).
Not a hagiography but not totally without some positive bias. Given the probable audiences for a biography of this type, it is a a fairly even treatment of Bill W. as a flawed man yet someone with great influence in founding AA.