Cover image for Bill W. : my first 40 years
Bill W. : my first 40 years
W., Bill.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Center City, MN : Hazelden Information & Educational Services, 2000.
Physical Description:
xi, 219 pages : facsimiles ; 24 cm
General Note:
Transcribed from an audiotape made by Bill W.
Personal Subject:
Corporate Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV5032.W19 A3 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Bill W My First 40 Years Hardcover

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

"[I]n a hotel then known as Wilson House I was born, perhaps rightly, in a room just back of the old bar," writes Wilson (1895-1970), cofounder and organizer of Alcoholics Anonymous, in this first published edition of an autobiography he began in 1954. Telling one's story is an important AA tradition. Bill W., as Wilson was known in AA circles, had a reputation for being a good storyteller and had previously recounted much of his life in the Big Book (also titled Alcoholics Anonymous) and other writings. Here, Wilson tells of his childhood, military service, marriage, attempts to stop drinking, and spiritual conversion in 1934 but stops short of his historic meeting with cofounder Dr. Bob. The publisher has added articles, appendixes, and recollections of friends, family, and colleagues to flesh out Wilson's fragmented account. In contrast to Francis Hartigan's recent conventional but comprehensive biography, Bill W. (LJ 2/1/00), Bill W. and Mr. Wilson offers an outsider's "personal impressions and ruminations." Following Wilson's own three-part formula ("what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now"), Raphael, an AA member writing under a pseudonym, observes that "what [Bill W.] used to be like scarcely exists outside...the account he first gave in Alcoholics Anonymous and then repeated often." Raphael seeks to distinguish Bill W., cofounder of AA and the Twelve Steps, from Bill Wilson, who "closely guarded his private life during his public career, even as he seemed to bare his soul at AA meetings." Throughout his life, Wilson battled depression, smoked heavily, and had a reputation as a womanizer. Later in life, he participated in LSD research and promoted alternative therapies for alcoholism. As Raphael describes Wilson's life, he traces parallels in the evolution of AA from its origins in the Oxford Group, a religious lay movement, to a worldwide self-help organization of alcoholics helping alcoholics. Both books, while important contributions to the growing literature on Bill W., are supplementary purchases for collections on drug and alcohol abuse. General collections should acquire Hartigan's Bill W.DLucille M. Boone, San Jose P.L., CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.