Personal Stories: ES&H

               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 story. To go to another Q&A section, please click on its name or book. 

Part I: From the First Edition of the Big Book

                        The Unbeliever                        


  1. L1-2: “. . . I lay on my bed in a famous hospital for alcoholics.” Who is the author of this story? – Hank P.     
  2. What hospital was he in? – Town’s Hospital on Central Park West, NYC.  
  3. Hank was the second alcoholic Bill W. helped to get sober in NYC. What is his date of  sobriety? –  September 1935.
  4. He wrote the only Big Book chapter not written by Bill W. What chapter is this? – Chapter 10: To Employers.
  5. This chapter represents an example of what Hank had been urging Bill to do with the rest of the Big Book. What was   this?   – To omit any mention of God.
  6. He wrote another piece for the Big Book which was never published. What was this? – “The Q&A Chapter.”
  7. He owned a business whose office became the first AA office. What was its name and where was it located?
     – Honor Dealers, in Newark, NJ.

  8. Who worked there with Hank? – Bill W.
  9. Who was Hank’s secretary and what role did she eventually play in AA? – Ruth Hock, who became the first AA
    secretary and typed the Big Book’s manuscript, mostly from Bill’s dictation.

  10. What else is Ruth known for? – She discovered the Serenity Prayer in the obituary page of a newspaper.
  11. Did Hank remain sober? – No. He relapsed in September 1939, soon after the Big Book’s publication, and never 
    again regained permanent sobriety. 
  12. This story is written in a particular literary style. What is this called? – Stream of consciousness.  
  13. Who are some famous authors who wrote in this style? – James Joyce, Virginia Wolf, William Faulkner, and Jack Kerouac, 
    alcoholic and drug addict. 
  14. What led Hank to imitate them? – He took a creative writing course at NYU.
  15. L17-18: “What had the little doctor said this morning . . .? Who was this doctor? – Doctor William Silkworth, the hospital’s 
    director, later known to AA’s as “Dr. Silky.”


  1. L13-14: “An alcoholic is a person who has an allergy to alcohol?" Whose idea is this and the others that are being
    questioned? – Dr. Silkworth’s.  
  2. L26-27: “I’ve got one of the stubbornest will powers known in the business.” What business is he probably referring to?
     –  The car sales business. The business he owned was a car dealership.
  3. What well-known company did he work for before being fired for drinking? – He was a sales manager with Standard Oil of
    New Jersey.
  4. When did he lose his job? – In 1935.


  1. He’s trying . . . idealistic as hell . . . nice fellow . . .” Who is he talking about?  – Bill W.


  1. L6-7: “And he said ‘God.’ And I laughed.” – Why did he laugh? Hank was an atheist, as the title of his story suggests.
  2. L22: “. . . lie down in green pastures . . .” – What is the allusion to here? – Psalm 23:2. 
  3. L35: “He’d laid down in this same dump . . .” Who was this? – Bill W.


  1. L28-29: “. . . just a lot of hooey to keep the masses in subjugation . . .” What is the philosophical source of this idea? –
  2. LL19-20: “. . . Second, if there was a God, why all this suffering?” This is a question many struggle with, including believers.
    How is this problem known in philosophy? – The problem of evil.
  3. What famous writer reports having become an atheist precisely because of this question? – C. S. Lewis.
  4. Having subsequently found an answer, he became a believer and wrote a book on the subject. What is the title of this
    book? – The Problem of Pain.      
    Cross-references to Fourth Edition: Foreword to Second Edition: The Doctor's Opinion, p. xxxi, #1; Chapter 11: A Vision for
    You, p. 158-159, #7; p. 163, #1; Gratitude in Action, p. 196.

Florence Rankin

A Feminine Victory 


  1. L1: Why “the rather doubtful distinction?” – There was a greater stigma attached to women alcoholics at the time. 
  2. L2-3: The author of this story refers to herself as “the only lady in our particular  section.” Who was she? – Florence R.
  3. Why “the only lady” – There were hardly any women in AA when she wrote her story.
  4. How many women had been around AA at the time? – Four.
  5. Who were they? – A woman known as “Lil” in Akron, Florence R., Mary C., and Marty M.
  6. Who had the longest time sober? – Florence, who after a few slips managed to put together a year at the time of writing. 
  7. Marty M. is credited with being the first woman to achieve long-term sobriety in  AA. Why is this? – Florence committed suicide not long after her story was  published, and Mary Campbell had a relapse in 1944, though she stopped  drinking again and remained sober until her death in the 1990’s. 
  8. Florence affected how the Big Book would eventually be named. How? – One of the most popular names was “One Hundred Men,” and it had to be discarded when she showed up.
  9. How does the stigma of being a female drunk affect Florence’s telling of her story? – She stresses her condition being “disgraceful,” and a “humiliation,” feeling “ashamed” and wanting “to hide.”
    Cross-reference: “Women Suffer Too,” Marty M.’s story, above, p. 200, #12. 


  1. L25: “I was in the alcoholic ward of a public hospital!” – What hospital was this? – Bellevue Hospital in NYC, not far from the Oxford Group Mission where Ebby T. and Bill W. got sober.
  2. L26: “It was there that L_____ came to me.” Who was “L”? – Louise Wilson. 
  3. Who sent her there? – Florence's ex-husband Larry, one of Bill W.'s Wall Street drinking buddies.
  4. LL30-31: “There her husband told me the secret of his rebirth.” Who was this? – Bill W.
  5. Why “rebirth”? – Bill saw the spiritual experience that led to his recovery as a spiritual rebirth. 
  6. Where in the Big Book does is this connection between spiritual experience or awakening and spiritual rebirth made explicit? – In Chapter 5: How It Works, p. 63: “We  were reborn,” mentioned as one of the promises of Step 3.
  7. Why do some AAs object to this expression? – Because of its religious association with being “born again.”


  1. LL12-13: “So I forsook Spirit in favor of 'spirits'.” There’s an allusion here to a  famous expression that is key to the history and the program of AA. What is it?  – “Spiritus contra spiritum.”
  2. Who is it attributed to? – Dr. Carl Jung.  
  3. Where do we read about it? – In Dr. Jung’s response to Bill’s letter, where Bill tells the doctor how his advice to Rowland H. to seek spiritual help had inspired the  idea of a movement to help alcoholics.
  4. Where in the Big Book do we read about Rowland’s experience with Jung? – In Chapter 2: There Is a Solution, pp. 26-27. 
  5. What does the expression mean? – Literally, “Spirit against spirits.”  
  6. What’s the connection to alcoholism? – Explains Jung: “You see, ‘alcohol’ in Latin is ‘spiritus’ and you use the same word for the highest religious experience as well as for the most depraving poison. The helpful formula therefore is: spiritus contra      spiritum." 
  7. LL33-34: “I got the Bible and "Victorious Living’.” What is the second reference to? – A devotional book popular in Akron AA, read by Dr. Bob and his wife Anne. Its title may have inspired the title of Florence’s story.
    Cross-references to Jung: Correspondence with Bill: The Language of the Heart,  pp. 276-281; Spiritual Awakening. Other: Foreword to Second Edition, The Doctor’s Opinion, p. xxix, LL7-9; Chapter 2: There Is a Solution, p. 26, L3; Personal Stories, “Me an Alcoholic?” p. 386, LL8-9.  


  1. L23: “I was taken back to B’s home.” Who was B? – Bill W. 
  2. Where was his home? – At 182 Clinton Street in Brooklyn Heights, NYC.

A Businessman's Recovery


  1. L5: “I was a passenger on that boat.” Who is the author of this story? – William R. of N.J., who first got sober in February of 1937.
  2. He later recounts that he got on his knees and “made a surrender” in Bill W.’s house. Why did he do that? – It was one of the membership requirements of the Oxford Group and therefore of the “Alcoholic Squad," which at the time formed a part of it.
  3. William was one of the first members of the Alcoholic Foundation when it was established in 1938, but was replaced almost immediately. Why? – He got drunk; was replaced by Harry B. of the story “A Different Slant,” shown below.


  1. L6: ”. . . after the Armistice . . .” Armistice Day signals the end of which war? – WWI.
  2. What national holiday celebrates that event, and when? – Veteran’s Day, November 11.
  3. LL18-19: “. . . having heard terrible stories of Prohibition . . .” Which Amendment made Prohibition the law of the land? – The 18th Amendment.
  4. How long did Prohibition last? – From January 17, 1920 to December 5, 1933. 
  5. By what Amendment was it repealed? – the 21st Amendment.
  6. Which group considered a predecessor of AA was finally destroyed by its identification with Prohibition? – The Washingtonian Society.
  7. What other controversy had they become involved earlier in their history that ushered in their decline? – Abolition.


  1. L12: The author thought “a change of scenery” would help him “get off of the stuff.” What do we call that? – A geographic, of which the author apparently took many.


  1. L13: “The first thing Bill told me was his own story.” – Which Bill is this? – Bill W.


 A Different Slant 


  1. L1: “I have probably one of the shortest stories,” says the author of this one, but he has probably the longest story in the main text of the Big Book, outside of Bill’s. It extends to four full pages, from p. 39 to p. 43. By what name is he known there? – Fred. 
  2. What is his real name? – Harry B.
  3. What is his profession? – He’s an accountant.    
  4.  What is his “different” slant or 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.
  5. Harry became a trustee of the Alcoholic Foundation when another alcoholic trustee  got drunk. Soon after that he too was replaced. Why? – He also got drunk. 
  6. Apparently Harry had a resentment, for he ended up suing AA. Why? – He had made a loan to AA to publish the Big Book and he wanted his money back.
    Cross-reference: Chapter 3: More about Alcoholism, p. 39, LL1-3; Personal Stories, “A Businessman’s Recovery” (shown above) p. 24, LL1-2.

The Back Slider 


  1. L1: “When I was graduated from high-school . . .” Who wrote this story?  – Walter B.
  2. Where was he from? – Cleveland, Ohio.  
  3. What is this city known for in AA history? – It had the first group which identified itself by the name “Alcoholics Anonymous.” 
  4. LL25-26: “. . . my urge for moving around.” In the Big Book’s "The Doctor’s Opinion," Dr. Silkworth characterized this urge as typical of the alcoholic. What did he call it? – Restlessness. 
  5. This is related to another problem that he said often plagues the alcoholic. What is that? – Discontentment.
  6. In the rooms, we sometimes use an expression to describe ourselves that is borrowed from him. What is it? – "Restless, irritable, and discontent." 


  1. LL4-5: “. . . to a growing city in the middle west.” What city was this? – Akron, Ohio. 
  2. LL33-34: “Fateful and fatal came the month of October in the year 1929.” What happened that month? – The stock market crashed, ushering in the Great Depression.
  3. Where else in the Big Book do we read about this? – In “Bill’s Story," p. 4, L13. 


  1. LL21-22: “My wife did the best she could . . .” Her story is also in the first edition of the Big Book. What is its title? – “An Alcoholic’s Wife” (p. 128 below).
  2. L30: “Both were sorry for me . . .” Judging by the author’s reaction, what did he think they actually felt for him? – Pity.    
  3.  Over time, we have come to make a distinction between pity and compassion in English. What is this difference? – In pity one feels bad for someone who is suffering, but does not necessarily share and identify with that suffering; in compassion one “suffers with,” sharing and identifying with it.


  1. L18: “They rushed me to the hospital.” Which hospital was this? – St. Thomas Hospital. He was reportedly the first alcoholic admitted for detoxification at there.
  2. A little nun worked with alcoholics there. Who was she? – Sister Ignatia.
  3. L31: “This doctor came and sat beside my bed.” Who was this? – Dr. Bob, who together with Sister Ignatia helped hundreds of alcoholics at that institution.


  1. LL1-2: “. . . numbered only Doc and two other fellows.” Who were the others? – Bill D. (AA #3, “The Man in the Bed”) and Ernie G. (AA #4). 
  2. What is the title of Ernie’s story? – “The Seven Month Slip” (p. 44 below).
  3. LL3-4: “. . . they met once a week in a private house.” Whose house was this? – Henrietta Seiberling’s, where the Oxford Group met and Bill W. was introduced to Dr. Bob.     
    Cross-reference: Chapter 11: A Vision for You, pp. 158-159, LL2-6; Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, pp. 72-73. 


  1. LL14-15: “. . . but I didn’t want help. I was ashamed.” What was he ashamed of? – Of having relapsed.
  2. What character defect often lies behind shame in such a situation? – Pride. 
  3. Does the author later acknowledge this? – Yes, when he recognizes the need for humility in seeking God’s help.                 

The Seven Month Slip


  1. Who is the author of this story? – Ernie G.
  2. L19-20: “During this time I married . . .” – Whom did he marry? – Sue Smith, daughter of Dr. Bob, who disapproved of the marriage.
  3. What was Ernie’s condition during the wedding? – He was drunk.  
  4. L22: “. . . getting around the law in speakeasies.” – What were speakeasies?  – Illegal drinking establishments during Prohibition, 1920-193.


  1. L15-16: “Somehow my family heard of two men in town who had found a way to  quit drinking.” Who were these two men? – Bill W. and Dr. Bob.
  2. How did his family hear about them? – His parents attended the same church as T. Henry and Clarace Williams, two members of the Oxford Group in whose home  alcoholics were meeting.
  3. L30-31: “Then one day I had a couple of visitors, one a man from New York and the other a local attorney.” Who were these visitors? – Bill W. and Bill D., AA Number Three, aka "The Man in the Bed." 


  1. L7-8: “. . . I decided to give it a try. And it worked.” Did it really work? For a while: Ernie became AA number four.
  2. L29-30: Then he had his “seven month failure” during which he drank again.
  3. Later, he put “more than a year” together. Did it work this time? – Unfortunately, no. Ernie kept relapsing and died still drinking.

My Wife and I 


  1. Who is the author of this story? – Tom L.  
  2. L5-8: “. . . and finally married an able, well-educated woman . . .” What was her  name? – Maybelle.
  3. L20: “. . . a business slump affecting the whole country.” What “slump” was this?  – The Great Depression of 1929.
  4. L23” “. . . the potent liquors of prohibition days. . .” To what is he referring here? – The Prohibition Era, 1920-1933.


  1. L11-13: “. . . spacing my drinks . . . taking only a measured shot . . . the folly of gulping down big drinks.” What do we call what he was trying to do? – Controlled  drinking.
  2. L24: “. . . soon I was craving the stuff so much that I didn’t wait . . .” What part of the disease does this craving exhibit? – The physical part.
  3. What was the name giving this craving? – An allergy.
  4. Who gave it this name? – Dr. William Silkworth.
  5. What are the other two parts of the disease, according to AA? – The emotional and the spiritual.


  1. L10: “. . . vanished on account of the depression.” – Again, the Great Depression of 1929.
  2. L15-16: “. . . I didn’t touch a drop for two years.” What does this show? – That if things get bad enough, some of us can manage to stop on our own. But if we are  alcoholic sooner or later we’ll go back.


  1. L13-15: “Following a prosperous season . . . I had a drinking spell.” What does this show according to AA experience? – That if we are alcoholic we drink, in good as well as in bad times.
    Cross-reference: 12&12, Step 4, p. 47, LL2-7: "We had to drink because times were hard or times were good . . ."
  2. L33: After nine months sober, he “was drinking every day” again. – What do we call the alcoholic who goes on and off the wagon regularly? – A periodic. 


  1. L6-7, 23-25: “. . . gave place to a man who slammed the door when he came in . . . I became increasingly surly . . . morose.” What does this say about the nature of our disease? – That it is a progressive disease, affecting not only the  way we drink but the way we behave and the kind of people we become.
  2. L32: “’A fine lot of Job’s comforters,” he says of the friends and associates who "generally ended up mildly upbraiding” him for his drinking? To what is the  allusion made here? – To the Book of Job in the Bible, where three friends try to  comfort Job for his suffering, all the while insisting that he’s being punished for his sins and needs to repent and ask for God’s mercy.


  1. L4-5: At one time he and his wife had tried going to church, and now “She got our pastor to talk to me. It was no good.” What does this confirm about AA experience? – That religion typically is unable to help the alcoholic.
  2. What was the first instance of this experience in AA history? – That of Rowland H. who, despite being a devout church member, couldn’t get sober until he had a spiritual experience in the Oxford Group. 
  3. L10-12: “I began to regard myself as an injured husband and an unappreciated father. . .” He seems to be feeling an emotion many of us alcoholics are susceptible to when dealing with the consequences of our drinking. What emotion is this? – Self-pity.
  4. L26-27: “Every alcoholic reaches the end of the tether someday day.” Is this true? – Not necessarily. Some of us drink ourselves to death, or put a gun to our head.
  5. L29-32: “I told my wife for the first time that I wanted to quit drinking, but I couldn’t . . . I needed help.” Without knowing it, he had started to take the first step. What was this? – Admitting that he was powerless over alcohol.
  6. L33-34: “. . . my wife had heard of another doctor who in some mysterious ways had stopped drinking . . .” Who was this? – Dr. Bob.


  1. L7-9: “’Does your husband want to stop drinking . . . Has he come to the end of the road?’” What was Dr. Bob trying to ascertain here? – That the man had hit bottom and had a desire to stop. The next paragraph answers these questions in the affirmative. 
  2. L22-23: “. . . from his speech was obviously an Easterner.” Where was he from? – Vermont, like Bill W.
  3. L31-33: “If you are perfectly sure that . . .” The rest of this sentence spells out the attitude we need to have if we are to recover. A lot of people who come to AA don’t seem to have it. What happens when they don’t? – They don’t stop drinking.
  4. What do we say about AA that sums up what Dr. Bob is saying here? – That “AA is for those who want it, not for those who need it.”     


  1. L3-4: What was the man’s response? – That he “had never wanted anything as much” in his life as to quit.


  1. L12-14: “He told me that several former alcoholics were dry as a result of following certain prescribed course of action and that some of them would be in to see me.” Instead of “dry,” what was the term most often used to refer to these alcoholics? – “Recovered.”
  2. L19-21: “. . . the human agency employed by an all-wise Father. . .” What’s another way of saying what the man is saying here? – That God works through people—hence the principles of “love and service” in Step 12 of the 12&12.
  3. L27-29: “. . . they were living proof that the sincere attempt to follow the cardinal teachings of Jesus Christ was keeping them sober.” Direct Christian references like this were gradually edited out of AA material. Where else in the Big Book (4th Edition) can we find them? – In “Bill’s Story” (p. 11), “Dr. Bob’s Nightmare” (p. 172), and “Appendix V: The Religious View on A.A.” (p. 572).


  1. L3: “. . . to begin the day with morning devotion . . .” This is another religious term we have dropped from the AA vocabulary. What do we call it now? – Prayer and meditation.
  2. L14-15: “In our town there are some 70 of us . . .” Which town is this? – Akron.

                                           A Ward of the Probate Court                                          


  1. Who is the author of this story, and where is he from? – Bill V. H., from Akron (or Kent), Ohio.
  2. L12: “War was declared.” What war was this? – WWI.
  3. L16: “. . . ‘vin rouge’. . .“ What was this? – Red wine (French).


  1. L5: “To forget, I engaged in super-active life . . .” He says he was trying to forget by getting very busy, but what else was he trying to do? – He was trying to compensate for his loss.
  2. LL22-24: “To get away from my drinking associates, I managed to be transferred to another city, but this didn’t help.” What do we call this attempt to deal with our alcoholism? – Taking a geographic.
  3. What's a popular expression that captures the futility of such an attempt to escape? – "Wherever you go, there you are."
  4. L31: Those were the bath-tub gin days . . .” What is he referring to here? – Prohibition.


  1. LL8-9: “In times of great distress such as this, I would pray to God for help? What do we call this kind of prayer? – A foxhole prayer.
  2. What saying is derived from this expression? – “There are no atheists in foxholes.”
  3. L18: “. . . and came to locked up in a cheap hotel room . . .” What probably happened to him? – He had a blackout.


  1. LL31-32: “. . . as a patient of a doctor who had been an alcoholic for many years and was now a new man.” Who was this doctor? – Dr. Bob.

Riding the Rods 


  1. L1: “. . . I was ready . . .” Who wrote this story? – Charlie S.
  2. LL1-2: “. . . an American Whittington . . .“ Who is the reference to? – Apparently  to W.W. Whittington, who founded a railroad town in the Midwest that bears his name.
  3. L5: “ . . . was a siren call.” What is the reference to here? – To Greek mythology, where beautiful creatures half-bird and half-woman lured sailors to their destruction with their sweet songs.


  1. L33: “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” What ancient document is this first found in? – The Bible, Mark 12:31, Matthew 22:39.
  2. Where in the Big Book is it quoted? – In “A Vision for You,” p.153.
  3. This is said to be the second of the two great commandments that sum up the ten. What is the first? – “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and will all thy mind, and with all thy strength.”


  1. L14: “The war was on . . .” Which war? – WWII.
  2. L24: “. . . being slipped a ‘Mickey Finn’. . .“ What was this? A drink laced with a drug used to incapacitate and take advantage of someone. Probably named after a Chicago saloon owner in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


  1. LL31-32: “. . . as a patient of a doctor who had been an alcoholic for many years and was now a new man.” Who was this doctor? – Dr. Bob.
  2. LL5-6: “John Barleycorn . . .” The name personifies alcohol. What is its original source? – British folklore.
  3. What British novelist and alcoholic made this part of the title of his "Alcoholic Memoirs" autobiography? – Jack London (1876-1916).
    Cross-reference: “Our Southern Friend,” Big Book 4th edition, p. 209. 


  1. LL19-20: “. . . and later to an industrial city in Ohio.” What city was this? – Akron.


  1. L2: “Those were still bootleg days.” Meaning what? – Prohibition.
  2. LL18-19: “Reverend gentlemen, who knew nothing of my problem, pointed me to the age-old religious formula.” What does he mean? – That they weren’t speaking from experience and thus couldn’t help him.
  3. L33: “. . . Pittsburgh . . . the Smoky City.” Why “smoky”? – It was highly industrialized and had lots of smokestacks.
    Cross-reference to Prohibition: “Dr. Bob’s Story,” p.175.


  1. LL14-15: “. . . I was a sober man, thoroughly dry. I wasn’t just on the wagon. I was dry! Here the author equates being dry with being sober. How do we use “dry” today? – To mean not drinking, but otherwise not sober, especially not emotionally sober.
  2. L28: “. . . a group of some 30 men in my town . . .” What group was this? – The Oxford Group meeting in Akron.
  3. When did the Akron alcoholic contingent break away from the Oxford Group? – Around November or December of 1939.
  4. Which other contingent within the Akron group preceded them? – The Cleveland alcoholics.  


  1. L30-31: “. . . I had a visitor, a doctor who had himself been an alcoholics.” Who was this? – Dr. Bob.


  1. P73, L34 – P74, L1: “He presented no religious nostrums . . .” What is “nostrums”? – A remedy or medicine with false or exaggerated claims and no demonstrable value (“snake oil”).
  2. L23: “That was two years ago.” When did he get sober? – May 1937.

                                                           The Salesman                                                            


  1. Who is the author of this story? – Bob O.  
  2. Many if not most of the early AAs were salesmen. What is the title of the most famous play about salesmen in America? – Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller, 1949.
  3. LL1-2: “. . . when the law of the land said I couldn’t . . .” What law?  – Prohibition.
  4. LL20-21: “In 1921 we had the forerunner of the later depression . . .” Which depression was this? – The Great Depression of 1929, which brought an end to the "Roaring 20's."
    Cross-reference to Depression: Chapter 1, “Bill’s Story,” p. 4, L12.


  1. L13: “. . . a nationally known biscuit company . . .” Which company was this? – Probably NABISCO (National Biscuit Company), which is still in business today.


  1. LL8-9: “. . . but nothing they said—some were ministers and others church members—helped me a particle.” This repeats a theme common in the stories of many alcoholics. What is that theme? – That religion and church were not able to help the alcoholic to recover.
  2. LL14-16: “. . . a doctor who had been having marked success with alcoholics.” Who was this? – Dr. Bob.
  3. LL31-33: “It is true they did no psalm singing, nor was there any set ritual, but I just didn’t care for anything religious.” Turned off by a religious approach that had not helped him, the author here seems to be confusing religion with something else. What is this? – Spirituality.


  1. LL13-15: “I told him I had come to the point where I was ready for the remedy . . .” What does this seem to be a sign of? – That he had surrendered and recognized his powerlessness over alcohol.
  2. LL26-28: “Every morning I read a part of the Bible and ask God to carry me through the day safely.” What does this say about his problem with religion? – That he had gotten past the religious stumbling block to a practical spirituality.


  1. L3: “All the doctor asked me to do was tell my story.” The author said he found this necessary to his continued happiness. What is the spiritual principle he was putting to work? – Service.

Fired Again


  1. Who is the author of this story? – Unknown


  1. LL15-16: “. . . I was ‘Mickey Finned,’ for I woke up about noon the next day in my hotel without a cent.” What is the meaning of this expression? – To put a sedative in someone’s drink and cause him to pass out in order to rob him.
  2. What’s the origin of the expression? – Mickey Finn, a Chicago criminal and bar tender who did exactly that to his patrons.


  1. LL16-17: “She had heard of the work of an ex-alcoholic doctor . . .” Who was this? – Dr. Bob

Truth Freed Me  


  1. Who is the author of this story? – Paul S.
  2. When did he get sober? – July 2, 1936.
  3. LL9-10: “. . . The Divine Comforter came, “Truth” came to me in a barroom. . .”  What is the reference to here? – The Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17, and elsewhere).


  1. LL3-4: “. . . a local doctor who had been helpful to him.” Who’s the reference to? – Dr. Bob.
  2. LL9-10: “. .. he understood the true meaning of the phrase ‘Brotherly Love’ . . .” What is the original source of this phrase? – The Bible (Romans 12:10).
  3. What American city is named after this expression? – Philadelphia (Gk. philo, love, + adelphos, brother).
  4. LL23-24: “I was doubtful, fearful, full of self-pity, afraid to humiliate myself.” He’s conflating humiliation with something else. What is it? – Humility.
  5. What emotion is typically at work in these types of situations? – Shame.
  6. What character defect is typically behind this emotion? – Pride.
    Cross-reference: "From Farm to City," p. 278 below.

Smile with Me, at Me


  1. Who is the author of this story? – Unknown.
  2. LL6-7: I thought I was too clever for a $7.00 a week job.” What was the likely character defect behind his “thought”? – Pride.


  1. L1-2: “. . . then we went into the world war.” Which was is referenced here? – WWI.
  2. LL15-16: “In six months I found I was too good for this job . . .” Likely defect of  character? – Pride.


  1. L8: “Then came the big crash of 1929 . . .” What’s the reference to? – The stock market crash that initiated the Great Depression.
  2. L31-32: “. . . I thought he had the St. Vitus’ dance . . .” What was this disease? – Sydenham's chorea (SC), a disorder characterized by rapid, uncoordinated jerking movements primarily affecting the face, hands and feet.


  1. LL9-10: “. . . put me in a private New York hospital.” – Which hospital was this? – Charles B. Towns Hospital on Central Park West, NYC.
  2. LL22-23: “He explained he had been in the same hospital with the same malady . . .” Who was this? – Probably Bill W.
  3. How do we know? – Because he said he had three years sober. The other possibilities are Hank P. (AA #2) and Fitz M. (AA #3), both of whom got sober  at Towns in 1935, more than a year after Bill (08/34).


  1. LL7-12: “For I delight in the law of God . . . Who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?” Where is this quote from? – A passage by the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:24. 
  2. What was the message the author got out of this passage? – That he didn’t have to be ashamed of having relapsed. Paul too had struggled, but he had the honesty and the courage to openly admit it. Following Paul’s example, he would go back and start attending meetings again.    

A Close Shave 


   1. Who is the author of this story? – Unknown.
   2. L1: “The year 1890 witnessed my advent . . .” What is the meaning of advent? – Coming or arrival.     
   3. What are the religious connotations of the term in this context? – It refers to the Advent season in the Christian  
       liturgical calendar, which is observed in anticipation of the birth of Jesus and begins four Sundays before Christmas.


L11: “. . . to go to a nearby town to have a talk with a doctor.” Who is he referring to? – Dr. Bob.

Educated Agnostic


  1. Who is the author of this story, where is he from, and what is his date of sobriety? – Norman H., Darien, CT, 1938.
  2. L5: “. . . the kindly doctor . . .” Who was this? – Probably Dr. Silkworth.


  1. LL20-24: “The next day another man visited me [who] hadn’t had a drink in over three years!” Who was this? – Probably Bill, who got sober in 1934 and would have had over three years by then. The other possibilities are Hank P. (AA#2) and Fitz M. (AA #3), but they got sober in 1935 and wouldn't have have had over three years at the time. 
  2. LL27-29: “. . . invited to a gathering the following Tuesday where I would meet other alcoholics who had stopped.” Where was this meeting? – In Bill W.’s house in Brooklyn Heights in NYC.


  1. LL7-8: “Almost imperceptibly my whole attitude toward life underwent a silent revolution.” What would we say happened to him? – He had a spiritual awakening.
  2. LL15-17: “The first step I took when I admitted . . . that [I] might be wrong."
  3. What Step 1 quality was he apparently beginning to acquire? – Humility.
  4. LL19-20: “. . . I am convinced that to seek is to find, to ask is to be given.” There’s an allusion to an ancient text here. What is it? – The Bible, Matthew 7:7.


                                                                                   Another Prodigal Story                                                                              


  1. Who is the author of this story? – Ralph F.
  2. In chapter 3 of the Big Book, “More About Alcoholism," he’s referred to under a  pseudonym. What pseudonym is this? – Jim.
  3. Why “Another” in the title? Because, apparently, he considers himself another prodigal son.
  4. Where do we find the original story of the prodigal son? – In the Bible’s New Testament, Luke 15:11-32.


  1. LL24-25: “A Good Samaritan saw my condition . . .” Here’s another well-known Bible story. Where is it from? – Luke 10:29-37.
  2. How is the original story related to this alcoholic’s story? – In the biblical story, a merchant from Samaria comes to the aid of a man who has been robbed and left injured by the roadside while two religious men (a priest and a Levite) ignore him and pass him by. In the alcoholic’s case, he’d been involved in an accident while drunk and a man comes to his assistance and drives him back home.
  3. At the time of the original story, a “good” Samaritan would sound like a contradiction to the religious man Jesus was telling the parable to. Why? – Because Samaritans were despised by the religious establishment and couldn't possibly be good.
  4. There’s a great irony in this story. What is it? – That it was the “bad” Samaritan who acted in accordance with the religious law and did the right thing, while the two religious men, who were supposed to be good (“righteous”), did nothing.
  5. By what name is Samaria known by most people today? – The West Bank.
  6. LL32-33: “. . . in a New York hospital.” Which one? – Charles B. Towns Hospital on Central Park West in NYC.


  1. L29: “My wife pleaded with the doctor.” Who was this? Probably Dr. William Silkworth, the hospital’s director.


  1. LL3-5: “. . . my ex-alcoholic friend insisted that I . . . come over to his home in ‘Jersey.” Who was this friend? – Possibly Hank P., who was from New Jersey.
  2. LL8-9: “. . . the home of an ex-alcoholic in Brooklyn.” Who was this and where was it? – Bill W., at his apartment at 132 Clinton Street in Brooklyn Heights.
  3. “This prodigal came home.” In what sense does he mean he came “home?” – He came home to God.
  4. How is this related to the story of the Prodigal Son in the Bible? – The father to whom the prodigal son returns is on a literal level of meaning his biological father, but on a more significant spiritual level his heavenly Father, God, who forgives him and welcomes him home. 



  1. Who is the author of this story? – Unknown.
  2. L6: “And wasn’t this the middle of the depression? What’s the reference to? – The  depression that started with the stock market crash of 1929.
  3. LL14-16: “I reasoned there was a real excuse for that last bender.” What do we call what he’s doing here? – Rationalizing.     


  1. LL20-22: “” . . . in the presence of the man whose address was in my pocket.” Who was this man? – Probably Bill W.   
  2. LL23-24: “I met men whose stories convinced me . . .” Where did he meet them? – Probably at Bill and Lois’ apartment at 182 Clinton Street in Brooklyn Heights in NYC, where the first AA meetings were held.

An Alcoholic's Wife 


  1. Who is the author of this story? – Mary B.
  2. Bill W. had asked another woman to write this story, but she declined. Who was this woman? – Dr. Bob’s wife, Anne.
  3. LL1-2: “I have the misfortune, or I should say the good fortune, of being an alcoholic’s wife.” That alcoholic also wrote his story in the first edition of the Big Book. What is his name and that of his story? – Walter B., “The Backslider” (p. 35 above).
  4. Why did she correct herself and say the good fortune rather than the misfortune? – Because, as she puts it, “We have now started to live.” Thanks to AA, she and her husband found a new way of living.

An Artist's Concept 


  1. Who is the author of this story? – Unknown
  2. Blurb: "There is a principle . . . contempt prior to investigation." Where is the Herbert Spencer quote from? – The Big Book.
  3. Where do we find it? – In Appendix II, Spiritual Experience, p. 567 in the 4th edition.


  1. L19: “ . . . a person constrained to temperance . . . “ What is the meaning of “temperance” here? – Not drinking.
  2. What social movement was the term associated with at the time? – The Temperance Movement, which starting in the 19th century in the U.S. campaigned against the consumption of alcohol and which with the passing of the 18th Amendment led to  Prohibition (1920–1933).
  3. “Temperance” was originally a term for a virtue, one that under various names became one of the spiritual principles in the 12 Steps of AA. What are some of these names? – Moderation, self-control, restraint (“of pen and tongue").
  4. What is the defect (originally the vice) it is a corrective to? – Excess, especially as it regards food, drink, sex, and certain emotions, such as anger. 


  1. LL13-14: “’Most men,’ wrote Thoreau, ‘lead lives of quiet desperation.’” Who was  (Henry David) Thoreau, and what is his best known work? – An American poet, essayist, and naturalist (1817-1862), author of Walden, a pond to which he retired in search of the simple life.
  2. Quoting famous people is very rare in AA literature. Why is this? – So as not to sound pretentious (an expression of pride) and, in keeping with Traditions 6 and 10 (and the AA Preamble), to avoid the appearance of endorsing or opposing any causes or engaging in any possible controversy associated with the person quoted which might divide us and divert us from our primary purpose.    


  1. L9: “”These men were but instruments.” What is a more commonly used term for “instrument” in this sense today? – Channel.
  2. In what well-known prayer was “instrument” replaced by “channel”? – In the version of the St. Francis Prayer used in Step 11 of the 12&12.
  3. L27: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Where is this quote from? – Proverbs 23:7.
  4. The first four words were used for the title of a popular self-help book. What book is this, and who is its author? – As a Man Thinketh, James Allen (see PTP4, pp. 136–37)
  5. What is the current title of the book? – As You Think.
  6. What does the change in title reflect? – A cultural-political movement known as "inclusion," one of whose recent goals has been to expunge all gender-specific terms from the English language, especially nouns and pronouns.
  7. Has this movement affected AA? Yes. In April of 2021, AA's General Service Office voted at a Zoom meeting to replace the words "men and women" in the AA Preamble with the generic term "people."
  8. Is this not against Tradition 10 and the Preamble itself? – Read them.
  9. Tradition 10 reflects the experience of a group which started in the 19th century and "almost discovered the answer to alcoholism . . . their membership passed the hundred thousand mark" (12&12, p. 178). It then got embroiled in two public controversies and fell apart. Which group was this? – The Washingtonian Society.
  10. What were the controversies? – The abolition of slavery and the Temperance Movement.


  1. L10: “. . . if he could become ‘as a little child’ . . .” What’s the source of this quotation? – Matthew 18:3-4.
  2. L29: “My conception of God as Universal Mind . . .” How does this relate to the title of the story? – It is an artist’s concept of the deity.

The Rolling Stone


  1. Who is the author of this story? – Unknown
  2. LL14-15: “ . . . I was only in his way when he wanted to read his religious books . . .” How is this a misuse of religion? – The father was using religion to put himself before his son.


  1. LL7-9: “I had become a person wrapped up in my own life only and giving no thought of anyone else.” Who did he seem to be imitating in this? – His father.
  2. LL13-14: “I knew the old San Francisco of before the earthquake . . . ”  What  earthquake is he referring to? – The earthquake of 1906. 


  1. L4: “. . . but I was ever a rolling stone . . .” This self-characterization gives the story its title. Where is the expression from? – The proverb “a rolling stone gathers no moss.”
  2. What is the meaning of this proverb? – As it applies to a person, that such an individual is always on the move, lacks stability, and is free from responsibilities and commitments.
  3. L11: “Then came the war.” Which war? – WWI.
  4. L31-32: “’Schnapps’ was barred to American Troops but I got mine.” What is “Schnapps”? – A strong alcoholic drink made from potatoes, and in Germany any strong spirit.


  1. L19: “When I was told of a doctor . . .” Who is this doctor? – Dr. Bob

Lone Endeavor

Lone Endeavor 


  1. Who wrote this narrative? – Ruth Hock, Bill W.’s secretary, who also typed the Big Book’s manuscript.
  2. LL4-5: “. . . her son, an only child, had been drinking uncontrollably for years.” – Who was this son? – Pat C., of Los Angeles.
  3. LL2-21: “. . . other men had recovered from alcoholism . . .” What does “recovered” mean here? – That they had stopped drinking. 
  4. LL22-33: “The doctor turned her letter over to Alcoholics Anonymous” Who was this doctor? – Perhaps Dr. Silkworth, the medical director at Charles B. Towns Hospital in NYC, where Bill W. and other early alcoholics had been sobered up and  who wrote "The Doctor’s Opinion” in the Big Book (p. xxv).


  1. LL27-28: “. . . we received a long letter from the son himself.” What was unusual about this letter, and how does it relate to the title of the story? – It recounted the first experience of an alcoholic getting sober as a result of reading the Big Book alone, with no personal contact or fellowship with other alcoholics.


  1. LL31-33: “I saw continually the effects of liquor but did it help me to leave it alone? No—it did not.” This confirms an important AA understanding about recovery from alcoholism. What is this? – That knowledge and information is not sufficient to make the alcoholic stop drinking.  


  1. L12: “Permission granted . . .” An asterisk at the bottom of p. 140 explains that this story “appeared only in first printing of first edition” of the Big Book. Why was it dropped from the second printing? – Because the man had gotten drunk again.
  2. Did he eventually sober up again? – Yes, a 1944 letter from the founder of AA’s first L.A. meeting states that Pat had been attending meetings and had been sober  about a year.
  3. Where else can we now find this story, besides in ES&H? – In the 75th Anniversary reprinting of the first edition of the Big Book, published 04/10/14.
    Cross-reference: Ruth Hock's Recollections, in Links. 

Part II: From the Second Edition of the Big Book   


                                           The Professor and the Paradox                                     


  1. Who is the author of this story? – John P.
  2. As a professor of English in college, the author might have taught the literary term that describes the use of the same letter or sound in adjacent words, as in the  title of his story. What is that term? – Alliteration.
  3. LL12-14: “. . . I have always been shy, sensitive, fearful, envious, and resentful, which in turn leads one to be arrogantly independent, a defiant personality.” Why, in psychological terms, do such defective traits of character and emotion generate the further defects of arrogance and defiance? – The latter defects compensate for the former.
  4. LL14-16: “. . . I got a Ph. D . . . . because I wanted either to outdo or defy everybody else.” What, in spiritual terms, is the defect driving such desire to outdo  and defy? – Pride


  1. LL22-23: “. . . there isn’t anybody who’s drunk any more Sal Hepatica than I have.”  What is he referring to? – A mineral salt laxative.  
  2. LL 24-25: “. . . melancholy drunks. . .” What is a more common term for melancholy? – Depression.
  3. The term appears twice in one of the Steps in the 12&12. Which Step is this? – Step 4 (pp. 45 & 46).


  1. LL4-5: “. . . for by this time one drink would set up in me that irresistible urge to take another and another. . .” Who first described this syndrome for AA, what did he call it, and what did it mean in terms of the progression of our disease? – Dr. William Silkworth; a physical allergy; that we had crossed an invisible line and become, not just hard or problem drinkers, but alcoholics—powerless to resist the urge to drink.
  2. LL10-12: “I tried to change . . . the amount of my drinking . . .  my place of  living . . .” What do we call these two tactics we use to try to deal with our  alcoholism? – Controlled drinking and taking a geographic.
  3. LL15-16: “I tried to change everything and everybody, except myself—the only thing I could change.” What is one of the tools we employ to reverse our tendency to try to change everything except ourselves? – The Serenity Prayer.
  4. LL33-34: “I would feel much better doing it that way, I insisted? Why? – Probably because to go to AA would be to humble himself and admit he needed help, and his pride would not allow him to do that.


  1. LL26-28: “I called at the home of the man who started the A.A. group in my town, and I went humbly with him to an A.A. meeting the following night.” What town was that? – Tuscaloosa, Alabama.


  1. LL7-9: “Whatever it was, I have been in A.A. and I have been dry ever since.” When was that? – February 1949.
  2. LL19-21: “Or talking about whiskey and old drinking days (one would normally think) is sure to raise a thirst, but it doesn’t work that way either, does it? Why not? – Because the obsession has been removed.
  3. L30: “We Surrender To Win.” What is the basic idea of surrender? – That we stop fighting “anybody or anything” (Big Book, p. 103): alcohol, people, places, things, God.
  4. What needs to happen for us to do that? – We need to hit bottom and accept complete defeat.
  5. How do we win out of such defeat? – We’re granted the power to stop drinking and to build a new life.
    Cross-reference, Surrender: “Women Suffer Too,” p. 205, #4 & #6; Big Book, Harry Tiebout: Appendix II: The Medical View on AA, p. 569, fourth paragraph.


  1. L5: “We Give Away To Keep.” What two key spiritual principles underlie this paradox? – Service (a discipline), and gratitude (a virtue).
  2. How do these principles work? – Both work against our disease of selfishness and self-centeredness: one by focusing us on giving without expecting anything in return (i.e. freely, not selfishly), the other by focusing us on how much we have been given ourselves so that we don’t crave for more (and can thus gratefully share what we have with others).
  3. L14: “We Suffer To Get Well.” How does alcoholism inevitably lead to a lot of  suffering, for us and for others? – We cause a lot of harm, and harm of course entails pain and suffering.
  4. Why is suffering a necessary prelude to getting well? – Because it takes us to our bottom and shows us our powerlessness, which humbles us and awakens us to the truth about ourselves and the lives we’ve led, thus setting the stage for recovery.
  5. What prevents this process from playing itself out? – Denial.
  6. L26: “We Die to Live.” The author refers to the concept of being “born again.” Where does this concept appear in the Big Book? – In Step 3: “We were reborn” (p. 63).
  7. What is the process being described there? – A spiritual awakening.
  8. What is that that we die to as a result of this awakening? – We die to self, healing from our spiritual disease of selfishness and self-centeredness.
  9. What are we born to? – We are born to a new way of life that revolves around the practice of spiritual principles.
    To listen to John tell his story, click on "The Professor and the Paradox." 

                                                                                                            Joe's Woes                                                                                                                 


  1. Who is the author of this story, and where is he from? – Joe M., from the Bronx, NY. He first got sober 04/39, relapsed 11/39, and regained sobriety 02/40.  
  2. LL4-5: “. . . Towns, that swanky place on Central Park West." What is the reference to, and who was the first AA to get sober there? – Charles B. Towns Hospital and Bill W. 
  3. Who were the second and the third NY AAs to get sober there? – Hank P. (09/35, “The Unbeliever”) and Fitz M. (10/35, “Our Southern Friend”).  
  4. Who was the director of this hospital? – Dr. William Silkworth.   
  5. What was his AA nickname? – Silky. 
  6. What was his contribution to the understanding of alcoholism? – That it was a  disease, which he called a physical “allergy.”
  7. What is his contribution to the Big Book? – He wrote “The Doctor’s Opinion.”


  1. LL5-6: “I was supposed to go to Sing Sing . . .” Where is this prison? – In Ossining, NY.
  2. What is the origin of its name? The local Indian tribe's words for "stone upon stone."    
  3. LL10-11: “I was sentenced to the State Hospital again instead of Sing Sing.” What is the name and location of this hospital?
    – Rockland State Hospital in NY.  
  4. LL16-17: “. . . I was called into the doctor’s office, the chief doctor of the State Hospital.” What was this doctor? – Dr. Russell E. Blaisdell. 
  5. LL17-18: “One of the founders of AA was there.” Who was this? – Bill W.  
  6. How did Bill happen to be in the area? – He and Lois were staying with friends in nearby Monsey, NY, after having lost their apartment in Brooklyn.  
  7. LL18-19: “. . . trying to get A.A. into the hospital.” They did start a meeting the next year, in 1939. What was unique about this meeting? – It was the first AA  meeting in a psychiatric hospital. 
  8. LL20-22: “The medical profession has nothing for you. The clergy has nothing for you. There’s nobody in God’s world can help you.” This doctor’s words echo the words of another doctor spoken to another hopeless alcoholic who would become  the sponsor of Bill W.’s sponsor. Who was this other doctor, and who was the man?  – Dr. Carl Jung and Rowan H.


  1. LL9-13: “This fella says, “As long as you are an alcoholic, you’ll never be able to take another drink as long as you live! . . . And don’t forget—not even a glass of beer!” What was this man doing that led Joe to call the meeting a “bunch of Bible-backed bums” and go out and get drunk to defy him? – He was preaching. 
  2. What AA spiritual principle was he disregarding? – The principle of attraction rather  than promotion.


  1. LL7-8: “. . . but it was that glass of beer that started the merry-go-round going.” What AA saying refers to this phenomenon? – It’s the first drink that gets you drunk. 
  2. L20: “They had opened an A.A. clubhouse on 24th Street . . .” Where was this? – In the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, NYC. 
  3. Who stayed there for a while after they became homeless? – Bill and Lois.


  1. LL13-14: “I’m losing this battle dad, but don’t let this throw you.” On his  deathbed, this boy was carrying the AA message to his father. What is this message? – That we don’t have to drink—no matter what.


  1. L9-11: “. . . if I didn’t have A.A. on my right and A.A. on my left I wouldn’t be alive today. I’d be in the same grave with that kid.” What truth about the AA way of life can we derive from these words? – That we’ll never be alone again.
    Cross-Reference: “Joe's Woes & First AA Hospital Group,” in AA History Timeline.

                                                         The European Drinker                                                       


  1. Who is this story about? – Joe D.
  2. Did Joe actually write it? – No. As with many of the early stories from Akron, Joe recounted his to another alcoholic who did the actual writing.
  3. Who was this ghostwriter? – Jim S., an Akron skid-row bum and former professional writer whom Dr. Bob  sobered up and recruited to write the stories of Akron alkies who were reluctant to write their own.
  4. Why were they reluctant? – Many didn’t agree with the idea of AA publishing a book; others didn’t feel they had the necessary skills.
    Cross-reference: “The News Hawk,” p. 268 below.

The News Hawk 


  1. What is the name of the alcoholic who wrote this story? – Jim S.
  2. The story appeared in the first edition of the Big Book under a different title. What was this? – “Traveler, Editor, Scholar.”
  3. Why this title? – Jim was at one time all of these things.
  4. Who helped him get sober? – Dr. Bob.
  5. Under Dr. Bob’s auspices, Jim played a very special role among Akron alcoholics. What was it? – He was a ghostwriter for a majority of the original stories of the Akron alcoholics.
  6. How many stories were there? – Fourteen in total.
  7. Who had originally compiled the list of those who should write stories for the projected book? – Hank P.
  8. Lois Wilson later paid Jim a very gracious compliment for his work. What was this? – She said that, thanks to his efforts, the Akron stories were better written than those from NY.
  9. Which Akron alcoholics are AA historian fairly certain actually wrote their own stories? – Dr. Bob (“The Doctor’s Nightmare,” 4th edition, p. 171), William V. H. (“A Ward of the Probate Court,” p. 57 above), Paul S. (“Truth Freed Me,” p. 90 above), and Ernie G. (“The Seventh Month Slip,” p. 44 above).

From Farm to City     


  1. Who is the author of this story? – Ethel M.
  2. When did she get sober, and where? – May 1941, in Akron, Ohio.
  3. Ethel is among the first women to get sober in AA. Who are the others? – “The Lady known as ‘Lil’” in Akron, Florence R. ("A Feminine Victory”), Mary C., and Marty M. ("Women Suffer Too").


  1. LL29-31: “Where you go, I’ll go, and what you drink, I’ll drink.” These words are reminiscent of the words of one biblical woman to another. Who are they? – Ruth’s words to Naomi (Ruth1:16-17).


  1. LL9-10: “. . . I became more defiant towards everything and everybody.” What does the 12&12 say about defiance? – That it is an “outstanding characteristic” of alcoholics (pp. 5 and 31).


  1. LL6-7: “This is based, really, on the Sermon on the Mount.” What is significant about this biblical sermon? – It was the most basic text used in Akron AA before the Big Book was published.
  2. L24: Paul S. had just called me.” Who is this Paul? – He’s the author of the story “Truth Freed Me” (p. 90 above). 


  1. L18: “So we came to King School.” What do we know about this meeting? The first Akron AA group took its name from this school: “The King School Group.” Alcoholics had moved to the school after meeting for a short while at Dr. Bob’s house. Prior to that, they had met as part of the Oxford Group at the home of Henry and Clarace Williams.


  1. L14: “I felt that I had made a complete surrender.” – Where did the idea of making a surrender come from? – The Oxford Group.
  2. Surrender would eventually be seen as synonymous with the admission of powerlessness and become one of the key spiritual principles in the 12 Steps. However, the word is not found anywhere in the first 164 pages of the Big Book or in the 12&12. Why is this? – Because the practice had been abused in the OG and become associated with religious coercion.

Stars Don't Fall 


  1. What is this author’s name? – Countess Felicia Gizycka.
  2. When and where did she get sober? – In 1944 in NYC.


  1. LL29-30: “So I married a nice, well-meaning young newspaperman.” Who was this? – Drew  Pearson.


  1. L20: “I think I had the physical allergy right away.” Who first diagnosed alcoholism as being in part the result of a physical allergy? – Dr. William D. Silkworth.
  2. What did he write for the Big Book? – The Doctor’s Opinion, p. xxv.


  1. LL30-31: “I thought I was the captain of my soul.” There’s an allusion to famous poem here  (mentioned in PTP123 and PTP4). Which poem is this, and who is the writer? Invictus, by Ernest Henley.


  1. LL22-23: “This new analyst was a woman doctor, one of the best in the country.” Who was this?  – Dr. Ruth Fox.
  2. What is her significance in Felicia’s story? – She introduced her to AA.


  1. L27: “Do you think you are one of us?” – We have a spiritual principle which encapsulates the approach represented by this question. What is this? – Attraction rather than promotion.
  2. This principle is found in one of our traditions but extends beyond it. What is this tradition? – Tradition 11.


  1. LL1-2: “Then he called Marty and made an appointment for me.” Who was this Marty? – Marty M., author of “Women Suffer Too” in the Big Book.
  2. LL5-6: “A friend of Marty’s, another A.A., let me in.” Who was this? – Priscilla Peck.
  3. What as this woman known for? – She was an art director at Vogue Magazine.
  4. What project did these three women eventually collaborate in? –They started AA’s magazine, The Grapevine.