Basic Text comparisons to original manuscript

In June of 1938, and after having embraced a solution for chronic alcoholism, some alcoholics who had previously believed themselves hopeless now knew the reality of permanent recovery. We do know they had yet to begin using the word “permanent”, but their new-found knowledge of “hopeless” having been nothing greater than a misconstrued feeling is certainly evidenced here:

“We…have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.”
(“Alcoholics Anonymous“, Foreword to First Edition)

Discovery of truths by learning to live within truth can set people free.
–  NoNameYet  –

Seizing each new opportunity to try to be helpful to still others, those same people had also begun saying this amongst themselves:

“If we keep on the [word-of-mouth] way we are going there is little doubt much good will result, but the surface of the problem would hardly be scratched…hundreds…dropping into oblivion…could recover if they had the opportunity we have enjoyed. How then shall we present that which has been so freely given us?
“We have concluded to publish an anonymous volume…our combined experience and knowledge…a useful program for anyone concerned with a drinking problem.” (page 19)

As an aside here, please notice that precise order… 1: combined experience; 2: knowledge. These people had not “knowledged” their individual ways into various new manners of living, they had commonly lived their way – “a simple religious idea (Step Three) and a practical program of action (Steps Four through Nine)” (page 9) – into “a revolutionary change in their (now-common) way of living and thinking” (page 50).

By December of that year, those early A.A.s had a “working manuscript” for their book. They printed a number of multilith copies for review by members and select others…and all of that ultimately helped formulate the final text of “Alcoholics Anonymous”, the book, as we know it today.

Some examples of hand-written notes various members and others had added to the book’s pre-publication manuscript are readily viewable, and “The Book That Started It All: The Original Working Manuscript of Alcoholics Anonymous” is now “providing an intimate and important look into the minds and the hearts of A.A.’s founders as they struggled to polish and perfect the text of their forthcoming book.”  (auction 2007 report : auction 2007 screenshot : alternative source)

From A.A. World Services in reference to these comparisons we offer: “…we would have no objection to the production of a few copies of such a work.” (February 23, 1987, letter on file)

With corrections where we had missed edits and made typos, here is our online copy of our 1993 comparison between the Third Edition of “Alcoholics Anonymous” – the A.A. “Big Book” – and its pre-publication multilith.

a line-by-line comparison between Alcoholics Anonymous and its pre-publication manuscript dedicated to those who trudge the Road of Happy Destiny in memory of those who first blazed the trail with hope for those who may yet seek our way


Comparison Format Examples Changes from original to present text Rarely have we < RARELY HAVE WE > seen a person fail who has thoroughly directions followed our < path >... Where changes (such as the word "directions" becoming "path") or any other replacements of text, punctuation or formatting have been made, the previous copy appears directly above the < revisions here enclosed within these comparison brackets >. Deletions from the original text Now we think you can take it! < — — — — — > Here are the steps we took... Where something had been completely removed without being replaced, it now appears immediately above a < bracketed > area showing where in the manuscript it had first appeared. Additions to the original text 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our — — — — — — < conscious > contact with God < as we understood Him >... Where something had been added to the text without having been a replacement for anything previous, it now appears < bracketed > and the space immediately above it is void. ~ ~ ~ technical notes ~ ~ ~ Q: Why are line lengths different here than in the book? A: Adding brackets, edits, removals and additions within the text causes some lines to grow too long (too wide) for display on a line otherwise printable on any page. Much care has been taken to assure the accuracy of this line-by-line comparison, and please let us know if you might happen to notice any errors or typos on our part! ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Dr. Bob's "prescription" for the real alcoholic
First Edition (Eighth Printing) Dust Jacket


A L C O H O L I C ' S A N O N Y M O U S Published by: Works Publishing Co., 17 William St., Newark, N. J.

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