“If you have read my husband’s book, Not God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous, you may think as I did, that you have a good understanding of that history. And you would be wrong. Writing the Big Book zeroes in on the first five years in a way that no other history of AA has captured. And these years were critical. Like a good suspense novel, this book captures the day to day struggles these few intrepid men encountered over those years – in the heart of the great depression… How does a bunch of homeless alcoholics start a worldwide movement? Schaberg’s book tells us how they did it, tiny step by tiny step.”

Linda Farris Kurtz
Author of Recovery Groups
Professor Emerita
Eastern Michigan University

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“Writing the Big Book is the most important work on the history of A.A. since Ernie Kurtz’s Not-God. Finally, we have a resource that draws upon decades of recent research to separate fact from myth regarding the origin of Alcoholics Anonymous.”

William L. White, author of Slaying the Dragon

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I loved this book. It isn’t just an immensely important contribution to the history of A.A., it’s an enjoyable read, in places, like a mystery. Once I started reading, I just kept on and on.

For many in recovery, Bill Wilson is a Moses freeing them from the bondage of addiction. As a result, a variety of myths have evolved around him, some encouraged by his own efforts to tell the story and to sell the spiritual program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Bill Schaberg does a great service to the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous with his exhaustive examination of archival documents, separating myth from fact. The result is a clearer picture of the beginnings of A. A. and the development of the Big Book, along with a rich and compelling portrait of Bill W. Less myth produces a much better story. This volume is a must read for any interested in the history of A.A.

The Very Rev. Ward B. Ewing, D.D.
Trustee and past Chair of the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous
Retired Dean and President of The General Theological Seminary, New York, NY

“This is a book that A.A. historians will want to read and reference from now on… the product of incredibly detailed research in the archives at the central A.A. office in New York City and at Stepping Stones in Bedford Hills, New York, along with Lois Wilson’s diary, and a host of other primary sources.”

Glenn F. Chesnut, author of 14 books including
Father Ed Dowling: Bill Wilson’s Sponsor
Father Ralph Pfau and the Golden Books
A.A. Meetings in Akron and Cleveland 1938-1942
Emeritus Professor of History, Indiana University South Bend

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“Writing the Big Book details the chapter-by-chapter authoring of Alcoholics Anonymous and provides a revealing anthology of its primary contributors… The revelations about Hank Parkhurst’s role in particular cast a welcome and inclusive light on his critical importance, as he is shown to be a true unsung hero.”

Arthur S., A.A. historian of Arlington, TX

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“Schaberg’s in-depth research and masterful presentation of previously unpublished facts about A.A.’s early history makes for an explosive package… Far from presenting a dry historical record, Writing the Big Book is lively, fascinating, compelling, and insightful – more like a thriller than a documentary.”

Jay Stinnett, Independent Scholar and A.A. Historian from Sedona, AZ

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“Writing the Big Book is an invaluable contribution to Alcoholics Anonymous and its membership. Relying on outstanding research and thoroughness, Schaberg shapes a coherent story out of a vast trove of archival material—and reveals that the Big Book, far from being simply, “divinely inspired,” was the work of perfectly flawed human beings, living and striving under great stress and difficulty.”

Kevin Hanlon, co-creator of the documentary Bill W.

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“Writing the Big Book surprises in how well it defines and demonstrates the condition of alcoholism, while so clearly rendering portraits of its interesting cast of characters. I came away with a much better understanding of what some of my dearest friends and family struggle with as alcoholics, along with a deep appreciation for the work that went into the creation of A.A.”

David Stickney, contributing editor of The Nietzsche Canon

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