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Hazelden releases publication of The Book That Started It All — the original manuscript of The Big Book

Posted Oct 04 2010 3:22pm 1 Comment
The Book That Started It All: The Original Working Manuscript of Alcoholics Anonymous
The Book That Started It All: The Original Working Manuscript of Alcoholics Anonymous

The original 1939 working manuscript of Alcoholics Anonymous, the revolutionary book that started it all that has sold more than 27 million copies in the US and Canada alone, has been made available by Hazelden to the public for the first time.

First written by AA’s co-founder Bill Wilson, with contributions from many of the original 100 AA members, the 161-page working manuscript unveils five layers of handwritten comments and revisions in black, green and red pencil. The edits reveal the intense debates that transpired during six weeks in 1939, when several newly-recovering alcoholics discussed how to best share their message of hope with other alcoholics and their families.

To learn more and see some of the edited pages, visit .

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As one of the few A.A. historians who actually contributed to the editing and commentary concerning "The Book That Started It All," I welcome the release of this valuable part of the A.A. history puzzle. My extended comments, one by one, are and will be posted on my blog
For now, the most significant revelation that the manuscript itself establishes is that a "Dr. Howard" tried in vain to have "God" shoved out of the book and his idea of "faith" subsitituted in its place. Thus the manuscript shows that an effort was made to remove the word "Heavenly Father" from the important last line of Dr. Bob's story on page 181 of the Big Book and substitute "faith" in its place. But Dr. Bob would have none of it. Neither, apparently, did the others like Wilson and Parkhurst who championed the manuscript. For very very often, the word "God" was circled, obviously for delation in favor of susbsituting "faith" instead. The efforts seem uniformly to have failed. And today, the word "God," descriptions of Him as Creator, Maker, Heavenly Father, Father of Lights, and Father remain. In short, the attempt by some physician to insert universal faith into the heart of the Big Book FAILED. And some of the other items will be discussed as time goes by. God Bless, Dick B.
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