Big Book Goes to Press
article is written by nationally recognized historian
and oft-quoted Alcoholics Anonymous archivist Mitchell
most of the New York members, the book was looking too
religious. Both Jim B. and Hank P. wanted all references
to God removed. Fitz M. wanted more mention of God.
members in Akron, Ohio met around Dr. Bob's kitchen table
reviewing the pages submitted to them and made their suggestions
as well. Bill knew he could not please everyone no matter
how hard he would try. There had to be some sort of a
are several stories, none confirmed, of how this compromise
took place. One story is that Ruth Hock, Bill and Hank's
secretary, who was attending some of these heated "discussions,"
asked about the Oxford Group idea of a non-denominational
God. That is, a God, not of the Roman Catholics or Protestants,
or Methodists or any other religious denomination, but
God of each individual's understanding. It is reported
that at that point, Jim B. shouted out; "That's it!
God as we understand Him!"
Oxford Group literature, though Christian in content often
discussed a Power greater than oneself. Why not have a
universal God? One who can be embraced by all, religious
and non-religious alike. Though not too happy about any
mention of God, several of the New York members reluctantly
agreed to this offer of compromise. The Akron members
who -- were reluctant to relinquish the spiritual -- accepted
this compromise as well. The book continued to be written.
after chapter were submitted to the New York and Akron
members for their review. Many changes were made and many
heated discussions took place. One long-term member from
Ohio who was there, told this writer that "we red
penciled, blue penciled, crossed out and attempted to
keep the book as true to our beliefs as possible."
The New York contingent did the same attempting to tone
down the spiritual aspects.
Wrote "To Wives?"
asked Hank P. to write what was to become Chapter 10,
To Employers. Hank wrote that chapter and eventually
had another falling out with Bill for receiving no credit.
Bill also asked Anne Smith, Dr. Bob's wife to write the
chapter To Wives, but she gently declined. She
reportedly told Bill that he should have asked his wife
Lois instead. Lois was not asked and Bill wrote it. To
say the least, Lois held a resentment about that for many
and Hank took the book to several sources for review and
possible publication. Eventually, after several re-writes
and corrections, the book was ready to go to press. In
order to raise further funding, a pre-publication manuscript
copy was printed. These went out to friends of the fledgling
movement as well as to members for further review. Offers
were made to send the printed book as soon as it was ready
to those who purchased this "multilith" copy.
A multilith was a sort of mimeograph process and 400 copies
of the manuscript were published and sent out.
was decided that some of the language should be toned
down and upon further review and editing, the book was
ready to go to press. A printing company was recommended
to Bill and Hank. The Cornwall Press, located in Cornwall,
New York (Orange County) was contacted and the process
and Hank wanted to make the book look like it was worth
the $3.50 they were going to ask for it. The asked that
the thickest paper be used as well as the widest possible
margins. The owners of the Cornwall Press had some left
over red binding cloth from another print job and offered
this to Bill and Hank at a discount.
C., a New York artist was "commissioned" to
design the Dust Jacket for the book. One of the first
design submissions showed a man marching forward with
fists clenched and a determined look on his face. In the
background was a bottle with another man trapped inside.
The name, Alcoholics Anonymous was in red across most
of the cover and "Their Pathway to a Cure" was
on the lower right-hand corner. Ray also designed what
became known as the "Circus" Dust jacket, the
one that was eventually used. This cover was red, yellow,
black and white with just the name, Alcoholics Anonymous
during the Winter of 1939, Bill, Hank, Ruth Hock and Dorothy
S. (the then wife of Clarence S. of Cleveland) went to
Cornwall, NY to review the galleys. It is not known where,
or for how long they stayed in this Orange County, NY
hamlet, but it is known that they approved the galleys
and the book went to print. Almost 4,800 copies were ordered
with a promise from the Cornwall Press that just as soon
as these were sold, they were prepared to print several
the books were ready, the Cornwall Press refused to release
any of them until they were paid. Despite Bill's pleadings
and promises of a quick turn-around, only those books
paid for were let out of the warehouse. Very few were
paid for and most stayed in storage for many months. It
wasn't until February 1940 that there was any real movement
of these books.
will be revealed