On Alcoholism & Recovery
in American History


Charles Bishop, Jr.

Charles Bishop Jr., 100 Best Books on Alcoholism and Recovery in American History
Charles Bishop, Jr., 100 Best Books on Alcoholism & Recovery in American History 1774-2016, July 2016, 128 pp., $15.00 U.S. + $3.00 shipping (check or money order)

ORDER BOOK FROM: The Bishop of Books, Antiquarian and Bookseller, 46 Eureka Ave., Wheeling, West Virginia 26003

A catalog of the greatest books ever written on alcoholism and recovery, with one or more paragraphs on each selection, carefully describing the book and its author.

To give a handful of examples, Bishop begins with famous historical works like Dr. Benjamin Rush's An Inquiry into the Effects of Spirituous Liquors upon the Human Body, and Their Influence upon the Happiness of Society, published in 1784. Dr. Rush, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, was the Surgeon General in George Washington's Continental Army. He was the first American to term chronic drunkenness a disease.

The catalog includes a book from 1842 on the Washingtonian movement and T. S. Arthur's Ten Nights in a Bar-Room from 1854, plus some of the most important books from the Prohibition Era (1870-1933).

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (1939) gets six paragraphs, and two of Mrs. Marty Mann's books are also in the catalog, along with E. M. Jellinek's The Disease Concept of Alcoholism (1960), with supplemental notes describing three of Jellinek's other works. Robert Thomsen's biography of Bill W., published in 1975 not long after Bill's death, also made Bishop's list.

Twenty-Four Hours a Day is listed, written by Richmond Walker (from Boston and Daytona Beach), the man who was A.A.'s second most published author, along with a book by A.A.'s third most published figure, Father Ralph Pfau from Indianapolis, an autobiography entitled Prodigal Shepherd. Pfau, who wrote the famous series of Golden Books under the pen name "Father John Doe" was the first Roman Catholic priest to get sober in A.A.

From the end of the twentieth century, we of course find Not-God, a History of Alcoholics Anonymous (1979), by Ernest Kurtz, A.A.'s greatest historian, along with Kurtz's book on The Spirituality of Imperfection (1992). The list also makes note of Mary Darrah's biography of Sister Ignatia (which came out in 1992), as well as Mitchell K.'s important book How It Worked: The Story of Clarence H. Snyder and the Early Days of Alcoholics Anonymous in Cleveland, Ohio (1990).

Among the most recent books, the catalog includes William L. White's Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America (1998; 2014), Nancy Olson's With a Lot of Help from Our Friends: The Politics of Alcoholism (2003), Trysh Travis's The Language of the Heart: A Cultural History of the Recovery Movement from Alcoholics Anonymous to Oprah Winfrey (2009), and Glenn F. Chesnut's Father Ed Dowling: Bill Wilson's Sponsor (2015), along with a supplemental note to Chesnut's God and Spirituality: Philosophical Essays (2010).

This partial list can serve as an example of the kind of works Bishop chose to catalog, a carefully chosen selection of 100 volumes (or actually closer to 125 books counting his supplemental notes) which every good researcher on the history of alcoholism treatment and recovery should be aware of.

About the Author

Charles Bishop, Jr., the Bishop of Books, is celebrating forty years as a full-time antiquarian, bookseller, and appraiser specializing in the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous and alcoholism.

He has published twelve books on A.A. and the history of alcoholism, including co-authoring the famous reference work To Be Continued ... The Alcoholics Anonymous World Bibliography 1935-1994.

He has appraised the libraries of Dr. Robert H. Smith ("Dr. Bob," the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous); of Ernest Kurtz, author of Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous; of Clarence Snyder, Cleveland A.A. founder; and of William Duncan Silkworth, M.D. (author of "The Doctor's Opinion" in the Big Book); as well as numerous private collections.

He sold his private alcoholism library of 15,000 items to Brown University, where it became the foundation of the Chester H. Kirk Collection on Alcoholism and Alcoholics Anonymous, the largest archives in the world in this area of study.

He published a national annual sobriety calendar from 1990 to 2013, and was the Area 73 West Virginia Archivist for six years. He served on the Board of Directors of the Institute for Research, Education and Training on Addictions (IRETA) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

A 1960 graduate of Wheeling Jesuit University, he lives in Wheeling, West Virginia and can be reached by e-mail at bishopbk@comcast.net

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