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2, 1939 Cleveland Plain Dealer
NOTED DIVINE REVIEWS "ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS"
ELRICK B. DAVIS
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 sales.
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:
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 the
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
book is not in the least sensational. It is notable for
its sanity, restraint and freedom from over-emphasis and
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.
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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