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Church Street P.0. Box 657
New York City...400pp....
by - DR. HARRY EMERSON FOSDICK
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 only things which can
be truly seen only from within. Alcoholism is another. All
outside views are clouded and unsure. Only one who has been
an alcoholic and who has escaped the thraldom can interpret
book represents the pooled experience of one hundred men
and women who have been victims of alcoholism -- many of
them declared hopeless by the experts -- 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, lifting 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.
book is not in the least sensational. It is notable for
its sanity, restraint, and freedom from over-emphasis and
fanaticism. It is a sober, careful, tolerant, sympathetic
treatment of the alcoholic's problem and of the successful
techniques by which its co-authors have won their freedom.
The group sponsoring the book began with two or three ex-alcoholics,
who discovered one another through a kindred experience.
From this personal kinship a movement started, ex-alcoholic
working for alcoholic without fanfare or advertisement,
and the movement has spread from one city to another. This
book presents the practical experience of this group and
describes the methods they employ.
core of their whole procedure is religious. They are convinced
that for the hopeless 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 N0 GOD," one
atheist in this 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.
are not partisans of and 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
the book has the accent of reality and is written with unusual
intelligence and skill, humour and modesty mitigating what
could easily have been a strident and harrowing tale. -
Harry Emerson Fosdick