Article Submitted by: Kim P. & Kevin L.
-Subject: Fw: AA review 1939
Reprinted from the November 2, 1939 Cleveland Plain Dealer with permission
A NOTED DIVINE REVIEWS "ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS"
By ELRICK B. DAVIS
In a recent series, Mr. Davis told of Alcoholics Anonymous, an organization
of former drinkers banded together to beat the liquor habit. This is the
first of two final articles on the subject.
When 100 members of Alcoholics Anonymous, the extraordinary fellowship of
men and women who have cured themselves of "incurable" alcoholism by curing
each other and adopting a "spiritual way of life," had established their
cures to the satisfaction of their physicians, families, employers and
psychotherapists, they published a book.
It is a 400-page volume of which half is a history of the movement and a
description of its methods, and the other half a collection of 30 case
histories designed to show what a wide variety of persons the fellowship has
cured. It is called "Alcoholics Anonymous," and may be bought for $3.50 from
the Works Publishing Co., Box 657, Church Street Annex Postoffice, New York.
The name of the publisher is that adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous for its
only publishing venture. The address is "blind" because the name "Alcoholics
Anonymous" means exactly what it says. The price of the book is "cost," 50
cents a volume less than one of the country's soundest old-line book
publishers would have charged if the fellowship had accepted that house's
offer to publish the book and pay the society 40 cents a copy royalty on
Among the first reviews of the book to see print was that written by the
Rev. Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick for the Religious Digest. That review so
attracted at least one well-known Cleveland minister that he obtained a copy
of the book, got in touch with the Cleveland chapter of the society, and
plans to preach a sermon about the movement.
Dr. Fosdick is himself the author of seventeen books. His review of
"Alcoholics Anonymous" follows:
"This extraordinary book deserves the careful attention of anyone interested
in the problem of alcoholism. Whether as victims, friends of victims,
physicians, clergymen, psychiatrists or social workers there are many such,
and this book will give them, as no other treatise known to this reviewer
will, an inside view of the problem which the alcoholic faces. Gothic
cathedral windows are not the sole things which can be truly seen only from
within. Alcoholism is another. All outside views are clouded and unsure.
Only one who has been a alcoholic and has escaped the thraldom can interpret
"This book represents the pooled experience of 100 men and women who have
been victims of alcoholism-and who have won their freedom and recovered
their sanity and self-control. their stories are detailed and
circumstantial, packed with human interest. In America today the disease of
alcoholism is increasing. Liquor has been an easy escape from depression. As
an English officer in India, reproved for his excessive drinking, lifted his
glass and said, "This is the swiftest road out of India," so many Americans
have been using hard liquor as a means of flight from their troubles until
to their dismay they discover that, free to begin, they are not free to
stop. One hundred men and women, in this volume, report their experience of
enslavement and then of liberation.
"The book is not in the least sensational. It is notable for its sanity,
restraint and freedom from over-emphasis and fanaticism.
"The group sponsoring this book began with two or three ex-alcoholics, who
discovered one another through kindred experience. From this a movement
started; ex-alcoholics working for alcoholics, without fanfare or
advertisement, and the movement has spread from one city to another.
"The core of their whole procedure is religious. They are convinced that for
the helpless alcoholic there is only one way out-the expulsion of his
obsession by a Power Greater Than Himself. Let it be said at once that there
is nothing partisan or sectarian about this religious experience. Agnostics
and atheists, along with Catholics, Jews and Protestants, tell their story
of discovering the Power Greater Than themselves. 'Who are you to say that
there is no God,' one atheist in the group heard a voice say when,
hospitalized for alcoholism, he faced the utter hopelessness of his
condition. Nowhere is the tolerance and open-mindedness of the book more
evident than in its treatment of this central matter on which the cure of
all these men and women has depended. They are not partisans of any
particular form of organized religion, although they strongly recommend that
some religious fellowship be found by their participants. By religion they
mean an experience which they personally know and which has saved them from
their slavery, when psychiatry and medicine had failed. They agree that each
man must have his own way of conceiving God, but of God Himself they are
utterly sure, and their stories of victory in consequence are a notable
addition to William James' 'Varieties of Religious Experience.'"
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