This is the third edition of the
book "Alcoholics Anonymous. The first edition appeared in
April 1939, and in the following sixteen years, more than 300,000
copies went into circulation. The second edition, published in
1955, reached a total of more than 1,150,000 copies.
Because this book has become the
basic text for our Society and has helped such large numbers of
alcoholic men and women to recovery, there exists a sentiment
against any radical changes being made in it. Therefore, the first
portion of this volume, describing the A.A. recovery program, has
been left untouched in the course of revisions made for both the
second and the third editions. The section called "The
Doctor's Opinion" has been kept intact, just as it was
originally written in 1939 by the late Dr. William D. Silkworth,
our Society's great medical benefactor.
The second edition added the
appendices, the Twelve Traditions, and the directions for getting
in touch with A.A. But the chief change was in the section of
personal stories, which was expanded to reflect the Fellowship's
growth. "Bill's Story", "Doctor Bob's
Nightmare," and one other personal history from the first
edition were retained intact; three were edited and one of these
was retitled; new versions of two stories were written, with new
titles; thirty completely new stories were added; and the story
section was divided into three parts, under the same headings that
are used now.
In this third edition, Part I
("Pioneers of A.A.") stands unchanged. Nine of the
stories in Part II ("They Stopped In Time") are carried
over from the second edition; eight new stories have been added.
In Part III ("They Lost Nearly All"), eight stories have
been retained; five are new.
All changes made over the years
in the Big Book (A.A. members' fond nickname for this volume) have
had the same purpose: to represent the current membership of
Alcoholics Anonymous more accurately, and thereby to reach more
alcoholics. If you have a drinking problem, we hope that you may
pause in reading one of the forty-four personal stories, and
think: "Yes, that happened to me"; or, more important,
"Yes, I've felt like that"; or, most important,
"Yes, I believe this program can work for me, too."
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