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Key Players in AA History Paperback – January 29, 2015
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The book provides short biographical sketches of the people most important to the development of AA, including founders Dr. Bob Smith and Bill Wilson, Clarence Snyder, Dr. William D. Silkworth, Henrietta Sieberling, Edwin “Ebby” Thatcher, Lois Wilson and Anne Ripley Smith (Mrs. Bob Smith). It also describes the role that each played in the development of the program. Important organizations and societies which came before AA that had a direct effect on the founders, such as The Oxford Group, The Washingtonian Society and the Water Street Mission are also profiled, as is their roles in arousing the ideas that later became Alcoholics Anonymous. Benjamin Rush, Carl Jung and “Dr.” Charles Towns are also covered in some detail.
The book does not shy away from subjects that many members of AA do not like to discuss, or even flat-out deny. For example, there are sections on Bill Wilson’s tendency toward marital infidelities and his “experiments” with LSD as a possible “cure” for alcoholism in the 1950’s. Lois Wilson’s co-dependent relationship with her husband is discussed, as well as Bill’s tendency to stretch the truth in order to make a point.
There are several statements that are repeated more than once in the book, which I thought was just fine. For instance, Bob Smith’s well-known lengthy quote that Bill Wilson “…talked my language” at that momentous Mother’s Day meeting is repeated not less than three times. The overall effect of these repetitions is that the point is well pressed, rather than being simply overstated. This book also contains a number of humorous observations.
The book is well documented and annotated, and many logical arguments are presented which contradict the “official” histories. Nevertheless, these ideas are presented in the spirit of reverence and “setting the story straight”, rather than any malice on the part of the author. Whatever your point of view, it is clear that Bob K is a devoted member of the fellowship, and he presents some very valid questions on the direction that AA is heading in the 21st century. A great read and highly recommended.
I like that the book shows Bill Wilson, warts and all, but clarifies a great misunderstanding of the LSD experiments in the 1950s. The book contains a good deal of information about a large number of people. The quirky humour and occasional irreverence reminds me of AA. AND, the pictures are very COOL!! Two thumbs way up!!