Chapters 1-11

               Roman Numerals             Chapters 1-11             Appendices             Personal Stories: 4th Edition             Personal Stories: ES&H

               Roman Numerals                   Chapters 1–11                       Appendices                    Personal Stories:                 Personal Stories:
                                                                                                                                                            4th Edition                            ES&H 

Scroll down to each chapter. To listen to its audio, please click on its link. To go to another Q&A section, please click on its name or book. For the latest updates, scroll down to the entries in red.

Chapter 1: Bill’s Story


  1. L18-19: Visiting Winchester Cathedral during the war, Bill’s attention is “caught by a doggerel on an old tombstone” whose last line reads “Whether he dieth by musket / Or by pot.”  What is the meaning of “pot” here? – A container of alcoholic drink.  


  1. L1: Bill recounts he “took a night law course.” What school did he attend?  – Brooklyn Law School.


  1. L4: “. . . we once worked on a farm . . . “When and where was this? – Bill and Lois worked at the Goldfoot Dairy Farm in Scotia, N.Y. (near Schenectady) from mid-April to mid-May 1925.  


  1. L7: “Abruptly in October 1929 hell broke loose on the New Stock Exchange.” What is the historical reference here? – The stock market crash which ushered in the Great Depression.
  2. L20: “I telephoned a friend in Montreal.” Who was this? – Richard O. Johnson (“Dick”), of Greenshields & Co., a brokerage firm.
  3. L23-24: “I felt like Napoleon returning from Elba. No St. Helena for me!” What is the import of this historical allusion? – Napoleon returned from his exile in Elba and marched triumphantly on Paris. But following his defeat at Waterloo, he was exiled again, this time to St. Helena, where he died in ignominy. Inebriated with “the old determination to win,” Bill was cocksure he would snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in the 1929 stock market crash.
  4. L27: "We went to live with my wife's parents." What are the names of Lois' parents? – Clark Burnham of PA (lawyer, gynecologist, and Swedenborgian minister), and Matilda Hoyt. 
  5. L31-32: “My wife began to work in a department store.” – Where was this? – At Macy’s.  


  1. L6-7: Two people were instrumental in Bill’s first hospitalization for alcoholism: his “brother-in-law,” a physician, and Bill’s own motherWhat is the latter’s name?  – Emily Griffith Wilson
  2. What is the name of the physician, and what other role did he play in AA? – Doctor Leonard V. Strong, Jr., who twice paid for Bill's hospitalization. He was one of the first members of the AA board of trustees, a position he held from 1939 to 1954.
  3. L7-8: What is the name of the “nationally-known hospital” Bill was placed in, and where is it located? – Charles B. Towns Hospital on Central Park West, NYC.
  4. L9-11: What did the “bella-donna treatment” consist of? – The use of an extract from an herb also known as “Deadly Nightshade;” referred to also as “purge and puke.”
  5. L11-12: Who was the “kind doctor” that Bill met? – Dr. William Duncan Silkworth, chief physician and psychologist at Towns.
  6. What section of the Big Book did he write? – “The Doctor’s Opinion.”
  7. L13-14: The doctor explained to Bill that “though certainly selfish and foolish,” he “had been seriously ill, bodily and mentally.” These words reflect a new understanding of alcoholism that AA would come to adopt. What understanding is this? – That alcoholism is not a problem of moral failure but a physical and mental disease.
  8. Besides the “physical allergy” and “mental obsession,” AA would come to understand the disease in a third dimension. What is this? – The spiritual.
  9. From what two men did AA derive this understanding? – From Carl Jung, a psychiatrist, and William James, a psychologist and philosopher. 
    Cross-reference: “The Doctor’s Opinion,” p. XXV and XXXI; “A Vision for You,” p. 162; “Our Southern Friend,” p. 213.  


  1. L14-16: “Then came the insidious insanity of that first drink, and on Armistice Day 1934, I was off again.” Armistice Day signals the end of which war? – WWI.    
  2. What national holiday celebrates that event, and when? – Veteran’s Day, November 11.
    Cross-reference: “Our Southern Friend,” p. 210, L29-317. 
  3. LL25-26: "Near the end of that bleak November, I sat drinking in my kitchen." Where was this kitchen? – In Lois and Bill's apartment in Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn, NY
  4. LL32-33: "The cheery voice of an old school friend." Who was this friend?  – Ebby T.
  5. Where did they go to school together? –  In Vermont.
  6. Where was Ebby originally from?  –  Albany, NY


1. L28: Ebby told Bill “how two men had appeared in court, persuading the judge to  suspend his commitment.” Who were these
   men? – Rowland H. and Cebra G., of  the Oxford Group. Cebra later joined AA, but Rowland never did
   Cross-reference: See below, Chapter 2: There Is a Solution, P26, L38.  


  1. L24-26: “How could there be so much of precise and immutable law, what had been so freely given me.” Bill is being prescient here. A scientific movement developed later in the 20th century based on the same intuition that the fine tuning of the laws of nature seemed to suggest the existence of a  creator God. What is the name of this movement? -Intelligent Design.  
  2. What Bible passage refers to the same perception? – "The heavens declare the glory of God," Psalm 19:1


  1. L31-32: “In one western city and its environs,” says Bill, AA had grown to include “one thousand of us and our families." What city is he referring to? – Cleveland, Ohio.  


   1. LL 27-28: “Scales of pride and prejudice fell from my eyes.  Similar words are used to describe a spiritual   
       experience in a subsequent personal story in the Big Book. Which story is this? —“The Man Who Mastered
       Fear,” p. 251     
  2. Two of the words bring to mind the title of a famous British novel which was later made into a famous BBC 
      Masterpiece series. What is the title of the novel, and who was its author? –Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen


1. LL 3-4: “At the hospital I was separated from alcohol for the last time.” The narrative here suddenly jumps from the kitchen talk
    between Bill and Ebby to Bill’s hospitalization. What does “for the last time” seem to suggest? – That Bill drank again after his
    kitchen talk with Ebby.     

 2. Is that part of Bill’s story skipped in the Big Book’s narrative? -Yes     

3. What else is skipped? – a) Bill’s experience at the Oxford Group Mission on east 23rd Street, where Bill goes to “research” what
    Ebby was up to. He drinks on his way there, but not on his way back home. b) Bill’s spiritual experience at Town’s Hospital.    

 4. Where can we read about this. –In Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age: A Brief History of A.A. pp. 59–64    

 5. Why were these parts of the story left out of the Big Book? Two reasons:        

    a) As regards the Oxford Group, because at the time the OG was involved in a big press-engineered controversy and AA did not
       want to be associated too much with it for fear of getting caught up in the controversy and hurting the alcoholic cause (see
       PTP123, p. 15).           

   b) As regard Bill’s spiritual experience, because during the first  6 months Bill spent working with alcoholics, he had emphasized
       his sudden spiritual experience at the hospital and alcoholics didn’t seem to identify with him. He did not help a single drunk
       stop drinking. With the advice of Dr. Silkworth, this led Bill to change his approach with Dr. Bob when he went to Akron, where
      he emphasized instead his own need to talk to another alcoholic to stay sober (see PTP123, pp.).  It also led to changes in the
      2nd edition of the Big Book, such as changing the phrase  “spiritual experience” to “spiritual awakening” in Step 12 and adding
      a Spiritual Experience  index to explain what it means, differentiate it from spiritual awakening,  and reassure alcoholics about
      the whole matter.   

6. L6-8: “There I humbly offered myself , as I then understood Him, to do with me as He would. I placed myself unreservedly
    under his care and direction.” What Step is Bill recounting he took here? – Step 3    

7. LL10-12: “I ruthlessly faced my sins, and became willing to have my new-found Friend take them away. . .” What Steps is he
 recounting he took here? Steps 4 and 6   

 8. LL14-15: “My schoolmate visited me, and I fully acquainted him with my problems and deficiencies.” What Step is he 
    recounting he took here? – Step 5   

9. LL15-18: “We Made a list. . . admitting my wrongs.” What Step is he recounting he took here? – Step 8.   

10. LL 11-14: “I felt lifted up . . . God comes to most men gradually, but his impact on me was sudden and profound.” What is Bill 
     alluding to here? – His “white light” spiritual experience at Towns Hospital, where apparently he had an epiphany and sensed  the presence of God.   

11. LL15-16: “For a moment I was alarmed, and called my friend, the doctor.” Who is Bill referring to here? Dr. Silkworth,
 Director of Towns Hospital.  


   1. L25: ". . .what had been so freely given me. L25: “. . . what is the allusion to here? – The Bible, Matthew 10:8, the sending out of
       the Apostles to heal others  as they themselves had been healed: “Freely you have received, freely give.   ”
       Cross-reference: This is the first of three allusions to this passage in the BB. See below: “There’s a Solution,” p. 19, L18-19, and “A
       Vision for You,” p. 164, L23-24. There are also 3 allusions in the 12&12: p. 10, L28-29; p. 133, L1-2; and p. 166, L39.  


  1. L6-7: Among the “strenuous, comic, and tragic” struggles of early AAs is the story of “One poor chap” who “committed suicide in my home.” – The name of this man? – Bill C., a lawyer and gambler who, while a guest of Bill and Lois, was surreptitiously selling off their clothes to finance his drinking and gambling.
  2. What home is Bill referring to? – Their apartment at 182 Clinton Street in Brooklyn  Heights, NYC. 
  3. LL14: “Most of us feel we need look no further for Utopia.” Who wrote the first work (a novel) titled Utopia? – Thomas More    
  4. Who was he? – A 16th century English lawyer and philosopher       
  5. How is he known in the Catholic Church? – As St. Thomas Moore     
  6. What does Utopia stand for? – An ideal place to live    
  7. What does the word actually mean? – “No place” (Greek nos, no + topos, place)
  8. What is the connection to alcoholics?– According to Tradition 6 in the 12&12, “alcoholics are bankrupt idealists” (p.156), always in search of a ideal that doesn’t exist. Once we join AA, we don’t have to search anymore. We are home. 
  9. “Me and Bobby McGee,” a Janice Joplin song some of us got wasted  to back in the day has a line which alludes to the utopian search. What is that line? – “He’s lookin’ for a home and I hope he finds it” 
  10. Asterisk: “In 2001, AA is composed of over 100,000 groups.” How many groups were there as of the publication of the BB’s 3rd edition in 1983, according to a corresponding note for that edition? – 50,000 groups.

To hear Bill W. tell his story and that of AA, see Bill W. – Fourth International AA Convention, 1965, Toronto.

To hear Ebby T.'s story, see Ebby Thatcher, San Jose CA, 3-4-61.

Chapter 2: There Is a Solution


  1. L1-3: "We, of Alcoholics Anonymous, know thousands of men and women who were once just as hopeless as Bill." Why "thousands," when Foreword to First Edition (p. xv) refers to "one hundred" as the number of AAs when this chapter was written and the BB published? – Probably well-intentioned editorial overzealousness. The integrity of the original text required that the one hundred figure be kept, and a footnote added to indicate this figure had grown to thousands as of the 4th Edition (and the 3rd, where the change was also made to the text with no explanation for the discrepancy). This kind of footnoting was rightly used elsewhere.

  1. LL3-4: Nearly all have recovered. They have solved the drink problem.” What does “recovered” mean here? – That, as the next sentence explains, they have solved the drink problem, that is, they have stopped drinking. 
    Cross-reference: P19, LL5–8 below

  1. L22-23: “We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree . . .” What did this line inspire? – The most popular of the proposed titles for the BB: “The Way Out.”  


  1. L1-2: “After such an approach many take up their beds and walk again.” What is the Biblical reference here? – The healing of a paralytic in Mark 2:9: “Get up, take your mat and walk.”
  2. LL5–8: "We feel that elimination of our drinking is but a beginning. A much more important demonstration of our principles lies before us in our respective homes, occupations, and affairs.” More important than what? –Than not drinking, as we are told in the preceding sentence. What can we conclude from this? That recovery in AA is about more than not drinking, that it involves the way we practice AA’s principles in all areas of our lives, or in all our affairs, as it says in Step 12. 
  3. L18-19: “How then shall we present that which has been so freely given us?” There’s another Biblical allusion here. What is it? – To Matthew 10:8, the sending out of the Apostles to heal others as they themselves had been healed: “Freely you have received, freely give.”
    Cross-reference: This is the second of three allusion to the Matthew passage in the BB. See Bill’s Story” above, p. 14, L25, and “A Vision for You” below, p. 164,L23-23. There are also 3 allusions in the 12&12: p.10, L28-29; p. 133, L1-2; p.166, L33.   


  1. L3: “A certain American businessman” who sought help for his alcoholism from Dr. Jung was told his case was hopeless except for a spiritual experience. Who was he? – Rowland H.
  2. Where did this man find his spiritual experience? – In the Oxford Group in NYC.
  3. He then carried the message to his old drinking buddy from Vermont. Who was this? – Ebby T.
  4. This second man passed it on to a third Vermont drinking partner and former schoolmate. Who was this third man? – Bill W.
  5. Did these two men ever join AA? – Ebby relapsed, was in and out, and never recovered. Rowland never joined but died sober.  


  1. L10-11: “William James,” author of "Varieties of Religious Experience,” studied and taught at what famous American university? – Harvard.
  2. Considered the Father of American Psychology, James also practiced another discipline from which psychology emerged independent in the early 20th century. What discipline is this? – Philosophy.
  3. William was the brother of a prominent novelist. What is his name? – Henry James.

Chapter 3: More about Alcoholism


  1. L11: “Jim” the car salesman “suddenly” had “the thought” that if he “were to put an ounce of whiskey in [his] milk it couldn’t hurt [him] on a full stomach.” What was this man's real name? – Ralph F.
  2. His story was published in the 1st Edition of the BB. What was its title? – “Another Prodigal Story,” now in ES&H, p. 108.
  3. In that story he tells of going to the home of an “ex-alcoholic in Brooklyn,” where, to his surprise, “there were 30 more men like” him. Who was this "ex-alcoholic?" – Bill W.  


  1. L14: “Fred” the accountant had it all, but like Jim he also had a sudden “thought” and found out the hard way that he could make “no fight whatever against the first drink.” – What was this early AA’s real name? – Harry B.
  2. His story appeared in the 1st edition of the BB. What was its title? – “A Different Slant,” now in ES&H, p. 33.
  3. What is his particular angle in this story? – That a person can have everything from a material standpoint, a great personality, strong will power, no worries or troubles, and still become a hopeless and helpless alcoholic.  


  1. L8-14: “Many doctors and psychiatrists,” among whom "a staff member of a world-renowned hospital,” agree with AA that “most alcoholics have to be pretty badly mangled before they really commence to solve their problems.” What was the name of this person, and what was his specialty? – Percy Pollick, psychiatrist.
  2. What was the hospital? – Bellevue, in NYC.

Chapter 4: We Agnostics


  1. L21-22: Who was the “celebrated American statesman” who said “Let’s look at the record?” – Alfred E. Smith, four-term NYS governor and first Roman Catholic presidential candidate.
  2. What famous white-tie event is held in his honor every year in NYC? – The Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner.


  1. L15-23: “We were having trouble with personal relationships . . . we couldn’t seem to be of real help to other people. . . .” These “bedevilments” are sometimes juxtaposed to what lines of Step 9? – The Promises, pp. 83–843.  


  1. L21: “Who are you to say there is no God?” was the “great thought” that “like a thunderbolt” struck this atheist into a spiritual experience. What is the title of his story in the BB? – “Our Southern Friend,” p. 208.
  2. After his experience, this man became a leader of the faction which sought to make the BB an explicitly Christian work. What was his name? – Fitz M.
  3. His one-time school mate remained a rebel against religion and became a leader of the faction which wanted to make the BB primarily a work of psychology. What was this man’s name? – Jim B.
  4. What is the title of his story in Part I, Pioneers of AA? – “The Vicious Cycle,” p. 219.
    Cross-reference to Fitz M.: “The Doctor’s Opinion,” p. xxxi; “The Vicious Cycle,” p. 219; “Our Southern Friend,” pp. 497–507.

Chapter 5: How It Works


  1. L11-12: What was the original word which “a Power greater than ourselves” replaced in Step 2? – “God.”
  2. L14, 30-31: What is the name of the person who claims credit for the addition of “as we understood Him” in Steps 3 and 11? – Jim B.
  3. L21: What expression was deleted from the original Step 7? – “On our knees.”
    Cross-Reference: See Ruth Hock's Recollections for how she remembers "as we understood Him" was agreed upon.  


  1. L1: What is the original phrase that "spiritual awakening" replaced in Step 12? – "Spiritual experience."
  2. L15: What are the "three pertinent ideas" called in AA parlance? – The ABCs.  


  1. L1-12: “When we sincerely took such a position . . . we were reborn. These lines are sometimes referred to as the ________ of Step 3. What is the term? – The promises.
  2. Some AAs object to the phrase “We were reborn” because of its religious associations. What is the better-known phrase that apparently is being avoided here? – To be born again.
  3. What is the main idea of the passage? – That we need to undergo a spiritual rebirth or transformation.   

Chapter 6: Into Action


  1. L16: The quote “Faith without works is dead” is used to support the idea that AA spirituality is also practical and requires action. What is the source of this quote?  – James 2:20 in the Bible.
  2. This was the “favorite quote” of Dr. Bob’s wife. What was her name? – Anne Smith
  3. According to the Akronites, the name of the company formed to publish the BB was inspired by this quote. What was its name? – “Works Publishing.” 


  1. L6: “. . . a story about one of our friends.” Who was this? – Unknown. The story is believed to have been passed down from the Oxford Group. 


  1. L5-6: “When we retire at night, we constructively review our day.” The suggestion for a nightly inventory is found in Step 11 in the BB. Where is it found in the 12&12? – In Step 10, where we read that before going to sleep “many of us draw up a balance sheet for the day” (p. 93, L18).
  2. Why the difference? – It's not clear. According to the wording of the Steps, continuing to take inventory every day is the business of Step 10, prayer and meditation that of Step 11. The 12&12 may have tried to correct an editorial oversight in the BB.
  3. Doesn’t taking such inventory call for prayer and meditation, though?  – Yes, it does, and the 12&12 makes that point in Step 11 (p. 98, L3-7). That understanding may be the reason the BB editors discussed the practice in that Step.
  4. What can we reasonably conclude from this? – That, in conducting our review before we retire at night, we are actually practicing principles from both Steps: self-examination from Step 10, and  prayer and meditation from Step 11.
  5. What about upon awakening, when the BB calls for prayer and meditation as we consider our plans for the day ahead? – That is the proper business of Step 11, as we seek conscious contact in order to do God’s will. The evening and morning practices follow each other in the BB, and this symmetry may have been another reason why the BB put the nightly inventory under Step 11 rather than 10.

Chapter 7: Working with Others


  1. L4-5: “This is our twelfth suggestion: Carry this message to other alcoholics!” Our “twelfth suggestion” actually includes more than that. What else does it call for?  – “To practice these principles in all our affairs.”
  2. Why isn’t this discussed in this chapter of the BB? – Early on, getting and staying sober physically was pretty much the sole concern of the fellowship.
  3. In what later book does this part of Step 12 become the main subject of that Step’s discussion? – In the 12&12.
  4. Why is it emphasized then? – Emotional sobriety had become an issue as AAs accumulated double-digit dry time and experienced first hand what the BB had suggested earlier, that physical sobriety was not enough.
  5. L18-19: “Don’t start out as an evangelist or reformer.” Who admitted he started out that way and got nowhere the first six months?        – Bill W. 


  1. LL9-10: “You will be most successful with alcoholics if you do not exhibit any passion for crusade or reform.” What is the veiled allusion to here? – The Temperance and Prohibition movements which had dominated the issue for so long.      
  2. LL10-11: “Never talk down to an alcoholic from any moral or spiritual hilltop.” What is the reference to here? – Religious leaders who railed against  drinking in support of these movements. 


  1. L10-11: What member “of our Fellowship failed entirely with his first half dozen prospects?” – Bill W.

Chapter 8: To Wives

[Q&A Under Construction]

Chapter 9: The Family Afterward


  1. L26-27: “We know of situations in which the alcoholic or his wife have had love  affairs.” Digging up one of such “past misdeeds” contributed to the relapse of  Bill and Dr. Bob’s first prospect. Who was this man? – Eddie R. Newly sober, he got  drunk after his wife disclosed she’d had an affair. Fifteen years later, Eddie was present at Dr. Bob’s funeral, 12 months sober.  


  1. L6-7: “One of our friends is a heavy smoker and coffee drinker.” Who was this man, and where was he from? – Earl T., from Chicago.
  2. How did he react to his wife making “a burning issue” of this? – He got angry and got drunk.
  3. Though his reaction was wrong, there’s a lesson for the family to learn here, and it is distilled in “three little mottoes which are apropos.” One is “First Things First.” What is the key virtue behind this? – Wisdom.
  4. A second maxim is “Live and Let Live.” What is the main virtue here? – Tolerance.
  5. A third saying is “Easy Does It.” What virtue is involved? – Temperance (popularly known as moderation).
  6. What is the title of Earl’s story? – “He Sold Himself Short,” Part I, Pioneers of A.A., p. 258.
    Cross-reference to First Things First: “Alcoholics Anonymous Number Three,” p. 190, L20-22; “He Sold Himself Short,” p. 264.

Chapter 10: To Employers


  1. Who wrote the original draft of this chapter? – Hank P.
  2. What is the title of his story in the 1st edition of the BB? – “The Unbeliever,” now in ES&H, p. 52.  


  1. L7-8: A bank executive who “was undoubtedly alcoholic” wasn’t allowed to get help from AA by his boss, who thought if he had the “willpower and guts” he would “make the grade.” After getting drunk again and being fired, this man was contacted by AA, got sober, and was “undoubtedly on the road to recovery.” Who this man? – Clarence S.
  2. What is the title of his story in the BB? “Home Brewmeister,” published in the first three editions and reprinted in ES&H, pp. 291-297.
  3. He led a revolt to separate alcoholics from the group they had originally found sobriety in. What group was this? – The Oxford Group Dr. Bob attended in Akron.
  4. After the split, he founded the first group to be called “Alcoholics Anonymous,” in a city not too far from Akron. What city was this? – Cleveland.  


  1. L19-20: “. . . a prominent doctor in Chicago . . .” Who was this doctor? – Dan Craske, M.D.
    Cross-reference: “He Sold Himself Short,” p. 265, L314.  


  1. P149 Last Line: “Today I own a little company,” says the author of “To Employers.” Who is this owner? – Hank P.
  2. Where was the name of this company? – Honor Dealers.
  3. Where was it located? – At 17 William Street, Newark, NJ.
  4. What is significant about its office there? – It became AA's first office. 
  5. P149-150: “There are two alcoholic salesmen who produce as much as five normal salesmen.” Who are these men? – Bill W. and Jim B.
    Cross-reference: “A Vision for You,” p. 59.

Chapter 11: A Vision for You


  1. L19-22: “. . . then would come oblivion and the awful awakening to face the hideous Four Horsemen—Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration, Despair.” What is the Biblical reference here? – The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Revelation, 6:1-8.  


  1. L9-10: “He will be at the jumping off place.” This evokes a line from Bill’s Story at  the beginning of the Big Book. What line is this, and what is it in connection with? – Page 4: “The papers reported men jumping to death from the Towers of High         Finance,” which many did in the wake of the October 1929 market crash.    
  2. L13-14: “But am I to be consigned to a life where I shall be stupid, boring and glum . . .? There’s a memorable phrase that helps to answer this question. What is it, and  where does it appear? – “we are not a glum lot,” Big Book, Chapter 9: “The Family Afterward,” p. 132. 


  1. L4-5: “You will learn the full meaning of ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself.’” What Biblical scripture is this passage based on? – Mark 12:31.
  2. L21-22: “. . . havens for those who must find a way out.” The bold letters have a place in the history of the Big Book. What is it? – “The Way Out” was considered for its title.
  3. L31-32: “Years ago, in 1935, one of our number made a journey to a certain western city.” – Who was this, and what city was it? – Bill W., Akron, Ohio.  


  1. L3: “But his venture wound up in a lawsuit . . .” What was this venture? – According to Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, “a proxy row that involved control of a little machine tool company” (p. 65). Bill thought he might become president of the company. It was his old vision of becoming “a Number One man."
  2. L11: “One dismal afternoon he paced a hotel lobby . . .” What hotel was this? – The Mayflower.
  3. L19-22: “Of course he couldn’t drink, but . . .” What do we call the thoughts Bill was entertaining following this “but”? – Rationalization.
  4. L28-29: “. . . he went on a roaring bender.” This was after he had stopped drinking, following his meetings with Bill. What was the occasion of his relapse? – A medical convention in Atlantic City, NJ.  


  1. L3-4: “His call to the clergyman led him presently to a certain resident of the town . . .” What was the name of the clergyman, and who was the resident? – The Rev. Walter F. Tunks, and Dr. Bob.
  2. L24-25: “He would do anything, he said, but that.” Dr. Bob is using a seemingly rational argument about safeguarding his business and family. But could he be rationalizing? Could there be something else behind it, and if so, what? – Possibly pride; after all, he was a doctor and had a reputation to protect.  


  1. L7-8: “. . .  he made the rounds of people he had hurt.” What was Dr. Bob doing here? – He was working Step 9 and making amends.
  2. Why did he take this Step so soon, when he had just started out in sobriety?– Because he realized he would drink if he did not.
  3. What does this show? – That he had surrendered and done what he had told Bill on their first conversation he would not do (p.155, #2 above).
  4. What lesson can we learn from this? – That we don’t necessarily have to wait till we have done all the preceding Steps to make amends. Doing them first is preferable, as each Step lays a foundation for those that follow. But there may be situations where making amends may be urgent. For instance, a particular individual may be ill (say our father or mother) and may not be alive by the time we get to Step 9.
  5. L18-19: Seeing that they “must keep spiritually active,” one day Bill W. and Dr. Bob “called up the head nurse of a local hospital.” What was this nurse’s name, and what hospital was it? – Mrs. Hall, the admissions nurse at Akron City Hospital.
  6. L22: “She replied, ‘Yes, we’ve got a corker. He’s just beaten up a couple of nurses.”  AA’s first group in Akron dates from the time this man got sober. What was his name? – Bill D.  
    Cross-reference: Foreword to Second Edition, p. xvii, in Roman Numerals section. 


  1. P18: “The man in the bed . . .” This became a memorable phrase to refer to Bill D. What’s another way we refer to him? – “A.A. Number Three.” 


  1. L33-L1: I used to be strong for the church, but that won’t fix it.”  This recalls what Dr. Jung told Rowland H. when the latter said he had a strong connection to the church. What was this? – That religion doesn’t help in most cases.      
  2. What did Dr. Jung (and now Bill W. and Dr. Bob) say was really needed? – A spiritual experience.  


  1. L9-11: “On the third day the lawyer gave his life to the care and direction of his Creator . . .” To what Step is there a reference here? – Step 3.      
  2. What is the principle involved? – Surrender.      
  3. L16-17: “He entered a political campaign . . .” What is the background to this?  – Bill D. had been a city councilman.      
  4. L28-29: “. . . a fourth turned up. He came through an acquaintance who had heard  the good news.” To what is the Biblical allusion here? – To the gospel in the Bible's New Testament, which means literally "good news."       
  5. L30-33: AA Number Four was “a devil-may-care young fellow” who didn’t want “to have anything to do with the church.” What was his name? – Ernie G.     
    Cross-reference to Bill D: “Alcoholics Anonymous Number Three,” Personal Stories: 4th Edition,  p.182.      


  1. L3-4: He agreed “to go to the hospital, where he occupied the room recently vacated by the lawyer.” What was the hospital, and who the lawyer? – Akron City Hospital, and Bill D.
  2. L5: Who were his “three visitors?” – Bill W., Dr. Bob, and Bill D.
  3. This man eventually became legally related to Dr. Bob. In what way? – He married Dr. Bob’s daughter, Sue, over her father’s objection.
  4. What is the title of this man’s story in the first edition of the BB? – “The Seven Month Slip,” reprinted in ES&H, p. 44. 
  5. L26-27: “A year and six months later these three had succeeded with seven more.”  Who were the seven? – Their names, sobriety dates, and stories (if published) are as follows:
    Hank P., NY, 09/35 (“The Unbeliever,” ES&H p. 5); Phil S., Akron, 09/35 (1st AA court case); Tom L., Akron, 11/35 (“My Wife and I,” ES&H p. 48); Fitz M., NY, 11/35 (“Our Southern Friend,” 4th Ed. p. 208); Walter B., Akron, 02/36 (“The Backslider,” ES&H p. 35); Joel D., Akron, 04/36 (“The European Drinker,” ES&H p. 248); Myron “Jack” W., NY, 04/36 (“Hindsight,” ES&H p. 120).  


  1. L5-7: “One man and his wife placed their large home at the disposal of this strangely assorted crowd” of alcoholics and  family members. Who was this couple? – T. Henry and Clarace Williams, of Akron.    
  2. L22-23: After being released from the hospital, many a man “capitulated entirely,  when, later, in an upper room of this house” he heard his own story told by  another alcoholic. What is the biblical allusion here? – The “upper room” in Acts 1:13. 


  1. L6-7: “They had visioned the Great Reality—their loving and All-Powerful Creator.” Where else in the Big Book do we find a reference to the Great Reality? – In  “We Agnostics,” p. 55.      
  2. We read there that “We had found the Great Reality deep down within us.” How does  the passage here advance our understanding of what was meant there? – "The Great Reality" is identified as loving, all-powerful, and our Creator.    
  3. Isn’t AA supposed to offer no particular understanding of God? – No, it offers particular understandings of God throughout the BB (and the 12&12), as in the quoted passage.    
  4. L12-13: “A community thirty miles away has fifteen fellows of Alcoholics  Anonymous.”  Where was this? – Cleveland, Ohio.   
  5. L25-26: “. . . being restored and united under God . . .” Here’s another specific understanding  of God. What is it? – The “Power Greater than ourselves” of Step 2, the God we came to believe “could restore us to sanity.”    
  6. L27-29: “. . . the things which matter so much to some people no longer signify much to them.” This prefigures a change talked about throughout the BB (and the 12&12). What kind of change is it? – A revolutionary change in outlook where we see and care about things from a spiritual perspective.  


  1. L1-2: In one of these eastern cities, “there is a well-known hospital for the treatment of alcoholic and drug addiction.” What hospital is this? – Charles B. Towns Hospital, 293 Central Park West, NYC.
  2. L2-3: “Six years ago, one of our number was a patient there.” Who was this? – Bill W.    
  3. L8-9: “Every few days this doctor suggests our approach to one of his patients.” The name of this doctor? – William Duncan Silkworth, known affectionately among AAs as “Silky.”   
    Cross-reference to Towns Hospital: “The Doctor’s Opinion,” p. xxv and xxxi; “Bill’s Story,” p. 7; “Our Southern Friend,” p. 213.  


  1. L10-14: “We know an AA member who was living in a large community” which probably had “more alcoholics per square mile than any city in the country.” Who was this member? – Hank P. 
  2. What was the community? – Montclair, NJ.    
  3. L15-18: “he got in touch with a prominent psychiatrist” in that community who agreed to test the AA way with his patients. –Who was this doctor? – Dr. Howard.    
  4. What other role did this doctor play in AA? – He helped to edit the BB.    
  5. What was one of his chief contributions to this work? – Changing the “you” language to “we.”    
  6. Why was this important? – Among other things, it helped to change the book from one of injunctions where alcoholics were told what to do, to one of narrated experience where alcoholics shared what they had done and how it had worked. (See review of The Book That Started It All in th