Bill W.: My First 40 Years - An Autobiography

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9781568383736: Bill W.: My First 40 Years - An Autobiography

żI was born, to be exact, in a hotel then known as Wilson House ż I was born, perhaps rightly, in a room just back of the old bar.ż

It was the beginning of a life that would change the lives of millions. Told here for the first time in his own words is the story of the man who would come to be known as Bill W.ża man who, for his part in founding the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, would be celebrated as one of the important figures of the twentieth century.

żThe terrifying darkness had become complete. In agony of spirit, I again thought of the cancer of alcoholism which had now consumed me in mind and spirit, and soon the body. But what of the Great Physician? For a brief moment, I suppose, the last trace of my obstinacy was crushed out as the abyss yawned.

żI remember saying to myself, żIżll do anything, anything at all. If there be a Great Physician, Iżll call on him.ż Then, with neither faith nor hope I cried out, żIf there be a God, let him show himself.żż

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About the Author:

William Griffith Wilson (Bill W.) was born in 1895 and died in 1971. In Akron Ohio, in 1935, along with Dr. Bob, he founded what later would come to be known as Alcoholics Anonymous, and he subsequently devoted his life to its mission.As a founder and world-famous proponent of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill W. told his story many times-but only in part, always with an eye to helping others out of the depths he could describe so well. Finally, though, near the age of sixty, knowing that his biography would surely be written and that there would be considerable interest in the circumstances behind his achievements, Bill W. began in tape recordings and notes, to "set the record somewhere near straight." The result is this book, a thoroughly engaging account of Bill W.'s life from childhood through manhood, rendered with the immediacy, directness, and characteristic charm of his speech.

From Library Journal:

"[I]n a hotel then known as Wilson House I was born, perhaps rightly, in a room just back of the old bar," writes Wilson (1895-1970), cofounder and organizer of Alcoholics Anonymous, in this first published edition of an autobiography he began in 1954. Telling one's story is an important AA tradition. Bill W., as Wilson was known in AA circles, had a reputation for being a good storyteller and had previously recounted much of his life in the Big Book (also titled Alcoholics Anonymous) and other writings. Here, Wilson tells of his childhood, military service, marriage, attempts to stop drinking, and spiritual conversion in 1934 but stops short of his historic meeting with cofounder Dr. Bob. The publisher has added articles, appendixes, and recollections of friends, family, and colleagues to flesh out Wilson's fragmented account. In contrast to Francis Hartigan's recent conventional but comprehensive biography, Bill W. (LJ 2/1/00), Bill W. and Mr. Wilson offers an outsider's "personal impressions and ruminations." Following Wilson's own three-part formula ("what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now"), Raphael, an AA member writing under a pseudonym, observes that "what [Bill W.] used to be like scarcely exists outside...the account he first gave in Alcoholics Anonymous and then repeated often." Raphael seeks to distinguish Bill W., cofounder of AA and the Twelve Steps, from Bill Wilson, who "closely guarded his private life during his public career, even as he seemed to bare his soul at AA meetings." Throughout his life, Wilson battled depression, smoked heavily, and had a reputation as a womanizer. Later in life, he participated in LSD research and promoted alternative therapies for alcoholism. As Raphael describes Wilson's life, he traces parallels in the evolution of AA from its origins in the Oxford Group, a religious lay movement, to a worldwide self-help organization of alcoholics helping alcoholics. Both books, while important contributions to the growing literature on Bill W., are supplementary purchases for collections on drug and alcohol abuse. General collections should acquire Hartigan's Bill W.DLucille M. Boone, San Jose P.L., CA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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