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  • Writing the Big Book

  • The Creation of A.A.
  • Written by: William H. Schaberg
  • Narrated by: Natasha Soudek
  • Length: 37 hrs and 34 mins
  • 3.8 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

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Writing the Big Book

Written by: William H. Schaberg
Narrated by: Natasha Soudek
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Publisher's Summary

In Writing the Big Book, William H. Schaberg presents an exciting, research-driven narrative of the history of the book, Alcoholic Anonymous, and the formative years of A.A. Granted extensive access to the group's archives along with several other sources, the author reveals the early Fellowship's conflicts and personalities, successes and failures, and dispels many of the myths found in such canonical texts as Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers, Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, and A Brief History of the Big Book.

The result of 11 years of in-depth research, Schaberg's history relies whenever possible on primary, real-time documents. He thoroughly investigates the book's authorship, illuminating the lesser-known contributions of figures like Hank Parkhurst and Frank Amos, and reveals how the spiritual side of the A.A. program evolved and was vigorously debated.

The book focuses primarily on the eighteen months between October of 1937, when a book was first proposed, and April of 1939, when Alcoholics Anonymous was published. During the span of those 18 months, the wealth of available archival materials provides for an almost week-by-week accounting of events, including an amazing amount of previously unreported details, resulting in a comprehensive and compelling story.

©2019 William H. Schaberg (P)2019 Tantor

What listeners say about Writing the Big Book

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

can't hear.. delete it and re-install? Free?

I can't hear the audio... If I delete it and re-order will I pay again... ?
I was really enjoying it until it quit working, it's not my phone as other books are working

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  • Annie Armstrong
  • 2019-12-25

This is a TEXT BOOK. Be aware!

This book is a TEXT BOOK, and not an easy read. If not for the narrator’s really pleasant voice it would have been really tough to get through it, because I’m just not the textbook type and personally prefer books with a faster pace (even when the content is so important, like in this book!) If you can handle reading complex medical textbooks and research manuals front to back, this will be no problem. There are a lot of really dense footnotes about things that were just too much detail for me and constantly pulled me out of the story. Again: I’m just not the textbook type.

That said, I am blown away by the care and effort and time the author put into researching and putting together this incredibly meaningful and relevant history, and for that reason I did not give up and listened to this audiobook all the way through. I am very grateful for his effort and care. Thank you. I learned some amazing new things about AA’s history and my perspective will never be the same, in a great way.

And again, thank you for the excellent narration, as well.

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6 people found this helpful

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  • Shane OMailey
  • 2021-11-19

A very thorough history of Bill Wilson's life

This book tells you every last thing, that you could possibly want to know, about Bill Wilson, & all of the people that he knew, during the 1930's & 40's. American churches owe him a great debt of gratitude. Alcoholics Anonymous has always been the ultimate religious propaganda machine. A well-oiled brainwashing cult. Ever since Bill's death, in January of 1971, they have been completely leaderless. Yet, they are also harmless. Keep comin' back, to this great, long & lengthy audiobook.

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2 people found this helpful

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  • Ray G.
  • 2020-02-04

New (real) History

This is a well researched historical book. It's sure to ruffle more than a few feathers. A lot of misinformation passed down over the years is mainly because very few ever researched the information such as Schaberg has. They just took it as being true and never questioned much of anything when it came to Bill or Dr. Bob. The absolute truth will never be known so what we are left with is what was more likely rather than less likely. This is the "more likely". The author kept well within the bounds of the title leaving out any of the other questionable dealings going on at the time or as a result of the book. Thus the 5 stars for the Story.
Having a female be the voice of Bill and Bob is at the very least a major distraction if not a slight. Imagine a male narrator for HRC's book! They might want to redo this one.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 2021-07-07

A must listen about early AA

Detailed information, great narrator, fascinating subject.

In my almost 11 years of sobriety, I've read the big book from cover to cover at least 2 dozen times. I was intensely curious about how it was written and how early AA evolved from the Oxford group, and this book was a thorough treatment of that topic.

My opinion on the big book has vacillated from it being perfect, to being terribly flawed, finally settling on it being an inspired work, heavily edited, full of parables - but ultimately Bill Wilson's best effort that has endured for 80 years and nearly 40 million copies.

The book is 37+ hours, and took me a month to finish, but it doesn't pretend to be anything other than an exhaustive chronicle of every available document from late 1934 through spring of 1939, as well as significant original text that was ultimately edited and discarded. It's an incredible glimpse into human nature, motivation, and consensus building that is very objective without being unnecessarily critical of some very flawed human beings and how they transformed the world.

Ultimately, after finishing this audiobook, I'm in even greater awe of Bill and those pioneering AAs because the concept, idea, and book succeeded IN SPITE of their human shortcomings. I think that proves a power greater than themselves was involved.

This book is not for everybody, but for me it was well worth the time to listen to it all.

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1 person found this helpful

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  • Chris
  • 2021-07-01

Comprehensive history

This is a thorough, detailed, heavily annotated and footnoted account of the writing of the big book. It would be better if the narrator didn't launch into voice acting when quoting people, however. It is quite distracting and of poor quality. I have actually decided to simply read the book rather than listen to this narrator anymore.

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  • Tueddii
  • 2021-04-09

Outstanding ACCURATE presentation of how the 1st edition of the AA Big Book came in to being!

Having been around now with a couple of days of sobriety under my belt and having read just about every other Conference approved literature, I am fascinated with these facts and how they don’t necessarily jive with what most of us think happened. In no way whatsoever does this exhaustive review take anything away from the program of action. It is just a very interesting presentation of the facts as they actually occurred.

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  • George
  • 2021-03-08

Exciting for readers of big book

The narrator does a good job. Yes she makes all her speakers seem very old, but at least we know that those words are in quotation. Otherwise she would need to say “quote, end quote” which would be much worse. Anyone who loves the big book will enjoy this history, and I find myself excited to listen further for a richer understanding of the text.

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  • jaydickerson
  • 2023-11-12

Outstanding

The reader was excellent and the book was just wonderful. Thank you to the author

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  • nancy
  • 2023-09-29

Impeccable, details of history..

This is a seemingly well researched account of the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous. Thank you so much. I find that the woman reading the book create craggily men’s voices and I find out annoying. Wish it could be re-done with out that to listen to.m she has a beautiful voice to just read, but not to attempt to sound like any of the men she’s trying to recreate. It really takes away from the rest of the reading my opinion.

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  • Robert R. Matheson
  • 2023-09-23

A most important story of earliest AA drama and insight

Personally, after 35 years I am astonished and slightly embarrassed to admit, I knew little to nothing about Hank Parkhurst and his immense contributions to the early society of AA and the absolute (ironically enough) impact on the world.

It is written in these pages and for all the world to read (hear) that Hank was instrumental and possibly even necessary on all levels for AA to come about as it did, to produce the Big Book as it was and to instill an everlasting message of importance of God and the complete abandon necessary while working the twelve steps to achieve a long term spiritual experience (awakening) that can produce “Long Term sobriety.”

But most notably it is the paradox and irony that abounds in this story and makes it not only a drama, but a real story of the human experience as we eek out our own place in this domain.

God Bless William H. Schaberg for his amazing research and writing and of course story telling. As well as Natasha Soudek for bringing it to life on this audio recording.

It was as if I was in the room while listening.

In gratitude. Yours, Young Robert

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