The Story Behind The Little Red Book: The Evolution of a Twelve Step Classic (Legacy 12 Series)

3 avg rating
( 1 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9781616495053: The Story Behind The Little Red Book: The Evolution of a Twelve Step Classic (Legacy 12 Series)

Discover the genesis of The Little Red Book and explore why this recovery mainstay has enriched the experience of millions in recovery across the generations.

Discover how the author of The Little Red Book--and the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous--brought its enduring wisdom to millions in recovery.Inspired by Step Twelve--to "carry the message" to others--AA visionary Ed Webster began in the 1940s to compile some Twelve Step insights for newcomers to the Fellowship, using his home group as a sounding board. Later, when this guide was published as The Little Red Book, it quickly became a recovery mainstay, a beloved companion to the "Big Book," the basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous. AA historian Damian McElrath tells the lively story behind the little book that has helped millions transform their daily lives. Through Webster's letters with Bill W. and Dr. Bob, we see the roles AA's founders played in the book's development. And, as the years passed, Webster's revisions--revealed here through his own margin notes--show both the evolution of the author's ideas and the staying power of the heart of the work.AA historian Damian McElrath tells the lively story behind the book that has helped millions put the Steps to work in their daily lives. We see how Webster's ideas evolved, revealed by the margin notes in his own copy of The Little Red Book. His letters with Bill W. and Dr. Bob reveal how AA's founders helped ignite the book's popularity among those in recovery. As the book went back to press dozens of times, Webster's revisions show both the staying power of the heart of the work and the flexibility of the author and his supporters as they grew and learned on their own recovery journeys.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Damian McElrath, D.H.E., is a former Hazelden executive vice president of recovery services and spiritual advisor. He is the author of seven books, including The Making of The Little Black Book. Damian lives in Robbinsdale, Minnesota.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction: The Evolution of the Little Red Book

The Little Red Book, written by Ed Webster, was published in 1946 by Webster and his very close friend, Barry Collins. Initially it went by the title An Interpretation of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (this and the version that was eventually developed by Webster will hereafter be called the Interpretation). Thus it was one of a cast of the many educational tracts with the same title that preceded it and had been circulating within the AA communities throughout the country. Their purpose was to educate the increasingly large numbers of alcoholics seeking knowledge of and admission to the program outlined in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, or as it came to be known by its popular title, the Big Book.

What Dr. Bob and Bill W., the co-founders of AA, had discovered needed to be passed on. For the first four years this was done by word of mouth, with "one alcoholic talking to another" about their own personal experience of recovery. Akron and New York were the principal centers from where the good news about recovery radiated outwards.

The essential elements of what brought about recovery which were first transmitted orally soon found a safe depository in a written tradition--the Big Book, published in 1939. Two years later a complimentary article by the popular journalist, Jack Alexander in the March issue of the Saturday Evening Post brought about an extraordinary number of inquiries about the program from all over the United States.

Soon the need for an instructional manual that would share and summarize in an abbreviated fashion the principles behind the Twelve Steps program presented in the Big Book became clear to a number of the early members. One of the first of these was published by the New York Office in April, 1940 with the simple title AA. Ruth Hock, the secretary at the New York office, often sent a copy of this booklet to those inquiring about AA as she did to Pat Cronin, one of the most influential early members of AA in Minnesota, in August, 1940. It was intended for people who had little or no knowledge of the Big Book, could not afford one, or were intimidated by the sheer volume of material it contained.

The AA tract was composed of 6 articles that appeared in the Houston Press written by a newspaperman who had recently found his recovery in the Cleveland AA fellowship. These articles summarized the new program for alcoholics, and, in some respects, the tract was among the first of the many instructional guides that began to circulate throughout the Fellowship. Very early on Akron produced its own instructional manual. Cleveland, which separated itself from Akron in 1939, stands as an excellent model of the group's consciousness of the need to separate newcomers into "beginners meetings" where they could become familiar with the basic principles of AA. This was the expectation before attending the formal group meetings, a practice copied by the Nicollet Club, one of the earliest groups in Minneapolis, Minnesota and an important forum for Ed Webster's development of the content for The Little Red Book.

What emerged as an accepted text adopted by groups throughout the United States, was a small generic manual that a version of the Interpretation used in Detroit and printed by the Washington, D.C. group. Usually all the steps were covered in four meetings with some minor variations as to the steps treated in each meeting.

A variant of this version of the Interpretation composed by Pat Cronin was the text in use at the Alano Club, another early AA group in Minneapolis when Ed Webster was selected as one of the instructors for the newcomers. It was also the tract upon which Webster would build his own manual that evolved at the Nicollet Club. Instead of covering all the Steps in four lessons, Webster had written a small book which together with an Introduction had 10 chapters, one for each of the steps except a chapter on Steps 6 and 7 and one on Steps 8 and 9. While the title was substantially the same as other texts already circulating throughout the country the text itself had been greatly expanded.

In a few years it became very popular throughout the United States and Canada. Webster's version of the Interpretation which became The Little Red Book at the time of the 1949 printing, has a singular place in the early history of Alcoholics Anonymous. Its purpose was to introduce the newcomer to the richness of a new life and personality change revealed by the study of the Twelve Steps. In the tradition of the previous interpretations the language was clear and simple. Its core message, which attracted people from all over the world was this: Recovery from alcoholism means incorporating the spiritual principles contained in the Twelve Steps in one's daily life, that is, restoring one's relationships with our true selves, with others and with the God of our understanding.

Over the course of the two decades that the book remained in control of Ed Webster he continued to make changes, some major and some minor, in many of the 21 printings, in order to clarify his thinking.

Initially, Webster's Interpretation found support with the two founders of AA, Dr. Bob and Bill W. Dr. Bob read the original manuscript and endorsed it whole heartedly, encouraging people to buy it and personally sharing copies with friends. He insisted that copies be kept in the New York warehouse for purchase and distribution. Bill W. also signaled his positive regard for the book in his early correspondence with Webster. As the years wore on, however, Bill W. proved to be less than enthusiastic about the book and he apparently became concerned that rather than being simply a locally disseminated tract about which the New York office had no opinion, it was fast assuming the role of a "Text Book" used by many local chapters at home and abroad.

Bill W.'s letters clearly express the evolution of his thought from approval to concern, not about its contents but because of its widespread acceptance as a standard text not approved by the New York office. This popularity added weight to his support of the formation of the Conference on Approved Literature which would eventually determine the canon of books approved by the New York Office. One of these books, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, was written by Bill and published in 1952 as AA's official interpretation of the Twelve Steps. Fortunately The Little Red Book did not die at that point, but continued to attract many AA people as their own spiritual Magna Carta.

The context for the development of The Little Red Book in Minneapolis allows us to examine in chapters one and two the major personalities in the Minneapolis AA circles--Barry Collins, Pat Cronin and Ed Webster--and the evolution of the Alano and Nicollet Clubs in the very early days of AA. Underlying their differences was the question of who could become a member of AA. Was the desire to stop drinking sufficient? The hard line that the Nicollet Club took regarding admission into AA has subtle undertones even in The Little Red Book.

The Little Red Book, in conjunction with parts of two other books by Ed Webster, Stools and Bottles and Our Devilish Alcoholic Personalities, provide clear insights into Webster's spirituality which is discussed in part 3. Taken together with his correspondence with Dr. Bob and to a lesser extent with Bill W., they speak to the simplicity of a spirituality based upon the Twelve Steps. In particular with Steps 3 and 11, Webster seeks to reconcile the compelling dichotomy of the relationships between God's will and man's will.

Webster's spirituality can be clearly extracted from his writings, especially from The Little Red Book. It is what I often refer to as "relational" spirituality, that is, it is to be found in the ordered relationships that we have with our true selves, with others, and with the God of our understanding. Each of the Steps points to one of those relationships. With his continual reference to the alcoholic personality, Webster is pointing to the other person/self residing inside the alcoholic which intends the individual no end of harm. Self-centered and disconnected from reality it is this self whose pernicious influence does everything in its power to destroy the loving relationships we have with others. Finally, it corrupts and corrodes whatever the nature of the relationship with one's High Power, the God of his/her understanding.

This alcoholic personality is the source of much mischief and misfortune. In contrast the discovery of one's real personality provides the lodestone that directs life into the re-discovery of those who wish to share our journey. Nurturing our real selves and cultivating those relationships intended to enrich our lives without the poison of alcohol puts us in a better position to explore our relationship with a God of our understanding.

One of the best descriptions of the AA fellowship, derived from its early history, is that it is a non-professional, mutual help group of men and women organized for the purpose of assisting one another to lead sober and contented lives within the community and principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. People coming into the program needed to be taught the basic principles contained in the Twelve Steps. What evolved slowly in Minnesota (and elsewhere) were organized mutual help programs using the Fellowship as its basis, intended to supplement the educational elements of AA as passed on in the Big Book. This educational model would eventually become the motivation for the founding of the prototypes of treatment facilities using the Twelve Steps as the basis for what became the Minnesota Model: Pioneer House, by Pat Cronin in 1948, and Hazelden by Cronin's sponsee, Lynn Carroll, in 1949. Both Cronin and Carroll wanted simply to provide an environment for those who needed more time to immerse themselves in the study of the Big Book and the Steps and their practical application. Lectures on the Twelve Steps and associated topics together with subsequent discussions were the heart of the program. They were taking the principles of mutual help and delivering them in a safe environment.

Gradually the original Twelve Step mutual help paradigm transitioned into professional treatment programs like the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation with a multidisciplinary staff that eventually included recovery from addiction to other drugs besides alcohol, as well as co-occurring mental health disorders as part of their integrated treatment programs. In tracing the history of The Little Red Book we are reminded of what it was like in the beginning of the AA movement--a simple and unvarnished approach to recovery based on the Twelve Step program documented in in AA's Big Book.

The popularity of Webster's Interpretation, first published as a book in 1946, is an excellent barometer of how serious the early recovering community was about the message and simplicity of recovery. Almost half of Webster's book traces itself back to 1944-1945, talks that he gave to a variety of groups in the Boston area. They are great examples of the early and simple expectations of AA members, the importance of the Big Book and the program that it presented. The same can be said of the lectures on all the Steps that Webster was giving at the Nicollet Group (1944-1946): Read the Big Book, practice these principles, attend meetings, and implement the Twelfth Step through service to others. This is what The Little Red Book eventually encapsulated. This book has played a central role in distilling and disseminating the kernels of the spiritual principles contained in the Twelve Steps. In doing so, it brought an important measure of consistency and discipline to the educational role of the early AA fellowship.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Buy New View Book
List Price: US$ 15.95
US$ 15.13

Convert Currency

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.

Destination, Rates & Speeds

Add to Basket

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Damian McElrath
Published by Hazelden Information Educational Services, United States (2014)
ISBN 10: 1616495057 ISBN 13: 9781616495053
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
The Book Depository US
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Hazelden Information Educational Services, United States, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Discover how the author of The Little Red Book--and the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous--brought its enduring Twelve Step wisdom to millions in recovery. Inspired by the Twelfth Step--to carry the message to others--early AA visionary Ed Webster began in the 1940s to write down his ideas about the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. With the sounding board of his home group, he compiled helpful suggestions for newcomers to the Fellowship. These insights were eventually published as The Little Red Book, becoming one of the most-used and best-loved study companions to the Big Book, the basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous. AA historian Damian McElrath tells the lively story behind the book that has helped millions put the Steps to work in their daily lives. We see how Webster s ideas evolved, revealed by the margin notes in his own copy of The Little Red Book. His letters with Bill W. and Dr. Bob reveal how AA s founders helped ignite the book s popularity among those in recovery. As the book went back to press dozens of times, Webster s revisions show both the staying power of the heart of the work and the flexibility of the author and his supporters as they grew and learned on their own recovery journeys. Bookseller Inventory # BZV9781616495053

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 15.13
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

McElrath, Damian
ISBN 10: 1616495057 ISBN 13: 9781616495053
New Paperback Quantity Available: 11
Seller:
Books-FYI, Inc.
(Cadiz, KY, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # 23MA3O009XL9

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 11.15
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

McElrath, Damian
Published by Hazelden Publishing
ISBN 10: 1616495057 ISBN 13: 9781616495053
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
Mediaoutlet12345
(Springfield, VA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Hazelden Publishing. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 1616495057 *BRAND NEW* Ships Same Day or Next!. Bookseller Inventory # NATARAJB1FI702993

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 11.70
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

McElrath D.H.E., Damian
Published by Hazelden (2014)
ISBN 10: 1616495057 ISBN 13: 9781616495053
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Ergodebooks
(RICHMOND, TX, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Hazelden, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # INGM9781616495053

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 12.80
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Damian McElrath
Published by Hazelden Information Educational Services, United States (2014)
ISBN 10: 1616495057 ISBN 13: 9781616495053
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Hazelden Information Educational Services, United States, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Discover how the author of The Little Red Book--and the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous--brought its enduring Twelve Step wisdom to millions in recovery. Inspired by the Twelfth Step--to carry the message to others--early AA visionary Ed Webster began in the 1940s to write down his ideas about the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. With the sounding board of his home group, he compiled helpful suggestions for newcomers to the Fellowship. These insights were eventually published as The Little Red Book, becoming one of the most-used and best-loved study companions to the Big Book, the basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous. AA historian Damian McElrath tells the lively story behind the book that has helped millions put the Steps to work in their daily lives. We see how Webster s ideas evolved, revealed by the margin notes in his own copy of The Little Red Book. His letters with Bill W. and Dr. Bob reveal how AA s founders helped ignite the book s popularity among those in recovery. As the book went back to press dozens of times, Webster s revisions show both the staying power of the heart of the work and the flexibility of the author and his supporters as they grew and learned on their own recovery journeys. Bookseller Inventory # AAN9781616495053

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 18.56
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Damian McElrath
Published by Hazelden Information Educational Services, United States (2014)
ISBN 10: 1616495057 ISBN 13: 9781616495053
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
Book Depository hard to find
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Hazelden Information Educational Services, United States, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Discover how the author of The Little Red Book--and the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous--brought its enduring Twelve Step wisdom to millions in recovery. Inspired by the Twelfth Step--to carry the message to others--early AA visionary Ed Webster began in the 1940s to write down his ideas about the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. With the sounding board of his home group, he compiled helpful suggestions for newcomers to the Fellowship. These insights were eventually published as The Little Red Book, becoming one of the most-used and best-loved study companions to the Big Book, the basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous. AA historian Damian McElrath tells the lively story behind the book that has helped millions put the Steps to work in their daily lives. We see how Webster s ideas evolved, revealed by the margin notes in his own copy of The Little Red Book. His letters with Bill W. and Dr. Bob reveal how AA s founders helped ignite the book s popularity among those in recovery. As the book went back to press dozens of times, Webster s revisions show both the staying power of the heart of the work and the flexibility of the author and his supporters as they grew and learned on their own recovery journeys. Bookseller Inventory # BZV9781616495053

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 18.56
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

Damian McElrath
Published by Hazelden Publishing (2014)
ISBN 10: 1616495057 ISBN 13: 9781616495053
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Irish Booksellers
(Rumford, ME, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Hazelden Publishing, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M1616495057

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 21.95
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

McElrath, Damian
Published by Hazelden Information and Educational Services (2014)
ISBN 10: 1616495057 ISBN 13: 9781616495053
New Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Books2Anywhere
(Fairford, GLOS, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Hazelden Information and Educational Services, 2014. PAP. Book Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from UK in 4 to 14 days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # CE-9781616495053

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 14.77
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 11.87
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

McElrath, Damian
Published by Hazelden (2014)
ISBN 10: 1616495057 ISBN 13: 9781616495053
New Paperback Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Revaluation Books
(Exeter, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Hazelden, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. 152 pages. 7.00x5.00x0.50 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # __1616495057

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 20.95
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 7.91
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

McElrath, Damian
Published by Hazelden Publishing (2014)
ISBN 10: 1616495057 ISBN 13: 9781616495053
New Paperback Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Murray Media
(North Miami Beach, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Hazelden Publishing, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P111616495057

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 37.71
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 1.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds