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Not God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous
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Not God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  322 ratings  ·  28 reviews
A fascinating, account of the discovery and program of Alcoholics Anonymous, Not God contains anecdotes and excerpts from the diaries, correspondence, and occasional memoirs of AA's early figures.

The most complete history of A.A. ever written. Not God contains anecdotes and excerpts from the diaries, correspondence, and occasional memoirs of A.A.'s early figures. A
Paperback, 456 pages
Published April 1st 1991 by Hazelden Publishing (first published 1988)
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Feb 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thoroughly researched account of AA's origins, focusing on the founding fathers' personalities, key relationships, and growing pains. Detailed and informative, maybe to a fault. Due to the cumbersome academic style and syntax, I found myself constantly counting how many pages I had left. I'm glad to have learned about the characters and ideas that shaped AA, and equally glad to be done with this book.

Side note: This account leaves me struck, but not shocked, by the overwhelmingly middle-class
Jun 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is an exhaustive and accurate history of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is written as a scholarly dissertation with about a million footnotes. Nonetheless, it is THE book for anyone in AA or interested in AA.
John Gray
Aug 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Without doubt, the best historical treatment of Alcoholics Anonymous. Beyond the narrative, Kurtz situates AA within the history of ideas that have shaped Western civilization. I highly recommend it to everyone.
Jul 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
This authoritative and compelling book on the history of Alcoholics Anonymous was originally written as a dissertation for Ernest Kurtz' doctorate in history at Harvard University. This probably explains why I found Kurtz' writing style to be rather convoluted and was often frustrated by his run-on sentences. But the richly researched information and attention to detail was so compelling I did not give up. I highly recommend this book to any person who has been helped by any of the numerous 12 ...more
Donald Powell
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, favorites
Lots of history about AA but also a very thoughtful dissertation on addiction, it's treatment and the psychology/sociology of a "spiritual" solution to the frailties of the human condition.
Mar 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-3-stars
Infinite Jest shares a similar endnote formatting and font style, but this book was published far before 1996.

If you can survive Saint Patrick's Day doing tech and sound for one gig and then go to an Irish Pub after and not drink a single drop of booze, you are not an alcoholic.

The bartender may tell you she smells a skunk and some young kid will probably offer to sell you drugs outside, when all you really want to do is get away from the shrill Joan Baez impersonators from Quincy caked in more
Mark Goodson
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is Kurtzs dissertation. Whatever his official doctorate is, the man has done incredible digging into both the history and the psyche of both Alcoholics Anonymous and the modern world.
There were several details about the young Bill Wilsons life that make perfect sense. He tried to be the first American to successfully complete a boomerang, for example. I found I could relate to the young Bill in many ways. His parents separated and he found himself wanted to please both parents and everyone
Dori Sabourin
Dec 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I had this book on my shelf for 30 years and started it a few times before, always losing momentum because I found it dryer than I wanted. This time, I approached it again with renewed vigor to gain a deeper understanding of the roots of AA after watching the documentary, "Bill W," in which Kurtz is featured as a historian. I'm glad I did. Part I, the history portion, details a number of interesting phases of growth, with new problems and ramifications, such as the proliferation of AA in ...more
Matt Edwards
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, history, 2019
First of all - this was a dense and difficult read for me. Not surprising considering it was a PhD dissertation. But once I settled in to the academic style of writing, I found this book to be the best and most thorough accounting of AA I've ever read.

Beyond recounting the founding moments and early development of the program, Kurtz does a superb job of putting AA into the larger context of American history and the religious and intellectual climate of the early 20th century. He also offers
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
A landmark. Excellent historical review of the origins of AA. Only reason I took off a star is the ornate writing style, and the extended interpretations/analysis at the end of the book--the latter of which is mostly great, but sometimes is too meandering for me. Somewhat selective, mostly balanced but a little hagiographic about Bill W and Dr Bob. Other biographies (eg Raphael [sp?]) are more direct and clear about the negative aspects of Bill W's life, which deserve some honest attention.
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A treasure-trove of knowledge. The subject is well researched, clearly analyzed and the book is overall very well written.

My only complaint might be that there is an incredible amount of information contained in this book. It could probably be made into two or three smaller books and thereby made slightly less intimidating.
Bob Towner
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The best history of Alcoholics Anonymous. Kurtz is a great friend of 12 step recovery and a very good writer. I got more out of this than the three 'canonical' histories of the program published by AAWS. I plan to read it again this year.
Jonathan Walker
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommended.
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really interesting. The back story to the beginnings of AA,
Steve Lepre
Jun 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Though fascinating at times, this is one of the most tedious, hard-to-get-through books I've ever read.
Mar 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting detailed history of aa beginnings.
Aug 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing

I The Limitations of the Drinking Alcoholic
II The Limitations of the Sober Alcoholic
III Finding Wholeness in Limitation
IV Needing Others
V The Limitations of Alcoholics Anonymous
VI Alcoholics Anonymous and the Wholeness of Limitation
Apr 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
History of the beginning of Alcoholics Anonymous. Very detailed
Hugh Hyatt
Mar 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
THE definitive history of A.A.
Nov 20, 2010 is currently reading it
Interesting history of AA. Links to VT as both founders were from here.
Timothy Cruz
Mar 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
I could not comprehend some of the initial writing/discussion, but the author started to bring everything together towards the middle of the book.
Jason Cecil
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a really good history of AA written as a dissertation. Once the author finishes the history, the 2nd part of the book is a bit dry. It could easily be skipped.
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
A thoughtful look at A.A. The classic introduction to the movement with a respectful, insightful analysis of its impact on recovery.
Andy C.
Jul 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aa
You will enjoy this.
Jim Higgins
Oct 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
A thoroughly researched and informed history of the early years of AA, place it in the intellectual and religious context of its times.
Nov 11, 2014 rated it liked it
must read again and great book to discuss with friends seeking greater knowledge of 'higher power'
Dan Herron
rated it it was amazing
Jul 18, 2015
Brad Thompson
rated it it was amazing
Oct 06, 2009
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Jan 02, 2019
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