Three Recovery Classics

Mel B.

<Mel B., Three Recovery Classics
Mel B., Three Recovery Classics:  As a Man Thinketh (by James Allen), The Greatest Thing in the World (by Henry Drummond), An Instrument of Peace (the St. Francis Prayer), September 2004, ISBN 0-595-32631-5, vi + 92 pp., $11.95.

In his own quest for sobriety and happiness, A.A. author Mel B. found continual hope and inspiration in the classical writings of James Allen and Henry Drummond on the spiritual life, and in meditation on the deeper spiritual meaning of the famous Peace Prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. He has reprinted all three of these in this present volume, with his own introductions and commentaries to aid the modern reader.

James Allen's As a Man Thinketh teaches us that our lives are governed and shaped by the way we think, feel, speak, and act. We discover that we are always masters of our fate:  when our thoughts are wrong, our lives necessarily become wrong.

Henry Drummond's The Greatest Thing in the World, a commentary on 1 Corinthians 13, is a short book on the true nature of Love -- eternal and all-powerful, surviving anything we now see in our world. He describes in detail how the simple ways we act towards ourselves and others are actually ingredients of the Divine Love itself.

The St. Francis Prayer, which A.A.'s Bill W. found so valuable in his own struggle with the Dark Night of the Soul, makes it clear that true Peace can be found only within ourselves. It shows us step by step howto change our inner attitudes and goals to achieve the only kind of serenity and satisfaction in our lives that can endure.

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The Old-Time Akron Reading List:
Books for A.A. Beginners

James Allen's book and Henry Drummond's book were both considered classic works on the spiritual life by old-time A.A., and were recommended reading for newcomers all across the United States (Akron, Detroit, California, and so on). A.A. groups would have them available for sale to make it easier for members to obtain copies.

A Manual for Alcoholics Anonymous (THE AKRON MANUAL), published by the Akron group in late 1939 or early 1940, with Dr. Bob's approval we must assume, gives a list at the end of recommended readings for newcomers to A.A., so that they might better understand the spiritual aspects of the program, including both of these books.

"The following literature," the pamphlet says, "has helped many members of Alcoholics Anonymous":
      Alcoholics Anonymous (the Big Book).
      The Holy Bible (especially the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7,
               the letter of James, 1 Corinthians 13, and Psalms 23 and 91).
      The Greatest Thing in the World, Henry Drummond.
      The Unchanging Friend, a series (Bruce Publishing Co., Milwaukee).
      As a Man Thinketh, James Allen.
      The Sermon on the Mount, Emmet Fox (Harper Bros.).
      The Self You Have to Live With, Winfred Rhoades.
      Psychology of Christian Personality, Ernest M. Ligon (Macmillan Co.).
      Abundant Living, E. Stanley Jones.
      The Man Nobody Knows, Bruce Barton.

A.A. old-timer Mel B. has prepared this handy new edition of Allen's and Drummond's books so that modern A.A. members can have easy access to these works which helped him so much when he first came into the program in 1950.

About the Author

Mel B., Walk in Dry Places

Mel B., Walk in Dry Places (Hazelden, 1996)
A book of daily meditations

Mel B. is an A.A. old-timer, a recovering alcoholic who got sober in Alcoholics Anonymous in 1950 during the early days of the fellowship, when he was a patient in the state hospital in his hometown, Norfolk, Nebraska. He has been an active member of A.A. for fifty-four years. He is regarded as one of the top historians writing about A.A.;  in addition to this present volume, he has published five other widely read books on the Alcoholics Anonymous program.

      New Wine:  The Spiritual Roots of the Twelve Step Miracle, 1991
      Walk in Dry Places, 1996
      Ebby:  The Man Who Sponsored Bill W., 1998
      The 7 Key Principles of Successful Recovery (with Bill P.), 1999
      My Search for Bill W., 2000

He was also a contributing writer for Pass It On, A.A.'s authorized biography of co-founder Bill Wilson, and has contributed more than fifty articles to the Grapevine, the international journal of A.A., as well as authoring several Hazelden Foundation pamphlets. Although he discusses topics related to Alcoholics Anonymous in this present volume, the ideas and comments are his own, and he cannot and does not speaker for A.A. as a whole.

He and his wife Lori were married in 1960 and have four adult children and eight grandchildren. A resident of Toledo, Ohio, since 1972, he served in public relations for a major corporation headquartered in Toledo until his retirement in 1986. In addition to his A.A. writings, he has also written publicity material and speeches, and articles on timely business topics and military history.

For more about Mel and his work, see his new website at