GETTING BETTER: Inside Alcoholics Anonymous by Nan Robertson
Kirkus Star

GETTING BETTER: Inside Alcoholics Anonymous

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KIRKUS REVIEW

New York Times reporter Robertson, a Pulitzer Prize winner for the story of her personal encounter with deadly toxic shock, here opens the door on Alcoholics Anonymous as it has never before been opened publicly. Every major book about A.A. has always been vetted by A.A.'s General Service Office. Robertson, a recovering alcoholic who took her last drink in 1975, breaks her A.A. anonymity to tell the A.A. experience like it is. Aside from the expected strong moments at meetings and in half-way houses, Robertson's liveliest, most striking new material consists largely of views of A.A.'s cofounders Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Silkworth. Wilson and Silkworth needed each other: it took one alcoholic talking to another for both to keep from drinking. Wilson was a many times failed, small-time Wall Streeter and, when drinking, a loudmouthed megaloboor. In 1935, Wilson, during a sober lull in Akron, Ohio, and fearing he would drink, connected with drunken surgeon Dr. Bob--and the nucleus of A.A. was born. Wilson became a towering and revered figure in A.A., but was a compulsive womanizer, a depressive who secretly tried LSD and spiritualist sÉances, went in for megavitamin niacin therapy, and eventually died of emphysema because of his ""sloppy"" chain-smoking. He also richly fulfilled his role as cofounder by writing four books, including Alcoholics Anonymous (""The Big Book""). Robertson graphically renders A.A. meetings around the Western world, enters into A.A.'s spinoff family groups (Al-Anon, etc.), takes us into family suffering and drunk tanks, discusses the once-controversial disease theory of alcoholism, describes ""the God part"" of recovery, helps problem drinkers decide whether or not they are alcoholics, and tells her own story as a boozing journalist-widow. This vivid, unlaundered drunk's-eye view from inside the bottle and from the spiritual recovery that comes from corking up, forever, is a triumphant piece of writing--and a sure bet for best-sellerdom.

Pub Date: April 29th, 1988
ISBN: 0595154581
Publisher: Morrow