VERY RARE 1939 FIRST PRINTING OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, IN NOTORIOUSLY ELUSIVE ORIGINAL DUST JACKET
(ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS) (WILSON, Bill). Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism. New York: Works Publishing, 1939. Thick octavo, original red cloth, original dust jacket. Housed in a custom clamshell box.
First edition, first printing, of this influential work—a most desirable copy in the very rare original dust jacket.
The Alcoholics Anonymous “Big Book” was published at a particularly trying time; the Great Depression had driven many Americans to desperation, and the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 ensured that alcohol was readily available. With moving personal accounts and case histories of many original members of A.A., here is the story of countless “average Americans… [whose] feeling of having shared in a common peril is one element in the powerful cement which binds” their lives together. This extremely scarce first edition also examines the epiphanic moments in which hope for a new life is achieved, but “the later editions of the Big Book play down this expectation of ‘sudden and spectacular upheaval” in favor of a more gradual explanation for triumph over the addiction (New Yorker, 1955). The book’s publication itself represented a triumph over numerous obstacles; pre-publication shares in the newly-founded corporation proved impossible to sell until a Reader’s Digest editor promised to publish an article about the group’s efforts. The article never materialized, but the tenacity of Bill W. and friends resulted in the independent publication of the book. An alternative title, The Way Out, had strong support from members, but a check of the Library of Congress showed twelve books with that title. Bill W. remembers, “We said to ourselves, ‘We sure aren’t going to make this book the thirteenth Way Out.’ We left the title Alcoholics Anonymous in the copy that went to the printer. That is how we got the title for our book, and that is how our society got its name.” Owner signature and address.
Bright, about-fine book with just a bit of soiling to rear panel. Scarce bright jacket with expert restoration. A beautiful copy.