Episode 196: Writing the Big Book with William H. Schaberg

William H. Schaberg is a distinguished scholar and rare book dealer based in Fairfield, Connecticut. Schaberg's lifelong passion for the history of ideas has driven him to amass an impressive collection of first-edition philosophy texts and inspired his first scholarly work, "The Nietzsche Canon: A Publication History and Bibliography." With a background in the United States Air Force and decades of running a family printing business, he eventually retired to devote more energy to his bookselling business, Athena Rare Books. Schaberg's scholarly journey led him to delve into the intriguing authorship of Alcoholics Anonymous, resulting in an exhaustive 11-year research project that culminated in his groundbreaking work, "Writing the Big Book: The Creation of A.A.'' This scholarly masterpiece challenges long-held creation myths surrounding Alcoholics Anonymous and, for the first time, meticulously unveils the month-by-month story of the book's genesis from October 1937 to its historic publication on April 10, 1939. 

Topics in this episode:

  • Exploring the origins of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the importance of its foundational text, and discussing why creating the Big Book was so impactful for the recovery community.
  • Exploring the process of writing the book, sharing how it came together and its evolution over time.
  • Discussing the principles and values in the AA book and their relevance today and reflecting on how the book has influenced the organization.
  • Exploring the importance of addressing misconceptions or mistruths that may surround AA's stories and principles.
  • Sharing key discoveries from the creation of the AA book and discussing¬†the value of preserving the authenticity of AA's history and teachings for future generations.