Item description for Bill W. and Mr. Wilson: The Legend and Life of A. A.'s Cofounder by Matthew J. Raphael...
William Griffith Wilson, cited by Time magazine as one of the hundred most influential individuals of the twentieth century, is better known as Bill W., cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous. In this book, Matthew J. Raphael, himself a member of A.A. (and writing here under a pseudonym, in accordance with A.A.'s tradition of anonymity), presents a revealing new look at both the legendary Bill W. and the private Mr. Wilson, who tried to live apart from his own celebrity.
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Studio: University of Massachusetts Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.7" Width: 5.54" Height: 0.57" Weight: 0.68 lbs.
Release Date May 1, 2002
Publisher University of Massachusetts Press
ISBN 1558493603 ISBN13 9781558493605
Availability 0 units.
More About Matthew J. Raphael
Matthew J. Raphael is a well-established writer and a member of AA.
Reviews - What do customers think about Bill W. and Mr. Wilson: The Legend and Life of A. A.'s Cofounder?
Disappointing Aug 24, 2008
Pompous, pretentious and expensive sums up this book for me in just a few words. As a member of AA and having read a number of histories of AA and Bill W I was really looking forward to reading something which I thought might throw a new light and tell me something new. In reality it was, with very few exceptions, simply a repetition of the same old stuff and written in an irritating style. Alluding to a biker at Founders' Day on the second page Mr Raphael writes "The contrasting colors and textures emphasize the cut of the chaps, how they cradle his virilia, leaving him suggestively exposed." proved to be warning enough that this was not going to be a book I would enjoy or find readable. Irritating prose, questionable and unsupported ideas and theories, and with allusions to being a poor man's "Not God" this is most definitely a book I would not commend to anyone. And not worth the quite substantial price either!
Required reading for the curious. Dec 27, 2005
Literary scholar and professor of English, John W. Crowley, writing under the pen name Matthew J. Raphael, renders a refreshing perspective on the life of Bill Wilson, founder-in-chief of Alcoholics Anonymous.
With "Bill W. and Mr. Wilson" Crowley expanded his personal bibliography of works pertaining to alcoholism and drinking, including "The White Logic: Alcoholism and Gender in American Modernist Fiction" (1994), "Drunkard's Progress: Narratives of Addiction, Despair, and Recovery" (1999), and most recently, "Drunkard's Refuge: The Lessons of the New York State Inebriate Asylum" (2004).
Like other recent Wilson biographers, Crowley critically examines key events in Wilson's story and flirts with exposé. Unfortunately, the criticism goes only as far as an adoring fan of Bill Wilson could permit. Crowley has to be careful not to lose his AA readership at the same time he has to preserve his own faith. It's a slack tightrope, but casual readers will be left believing he has made it to the other side safely. Others will see the length of the rope and draw their own conclusions.
This book is an absolute must-read for anyone with an interest in the origins of Alcoholics Anonymous.
For thoughtful, intelligent readers, it gets no better... Feb 28, 2003
I was given this book as an early gift for my 5-year sobriety birthday. In April 1998, I took what I hope was my last drink. In April 2003, "God willin' and the creek don't rise," I will celebrate that 5-year milestone. I've read all the AA-approved treatments of our co-founders and their lives, and much of the non-conference-approved canon on the life of William G. Wilson. This book quickly became my favorite because of its honesty. Rather than painting Bill W. as God's special instrument, divinely appointed to save us drunks and led by God as if by puppet strings, this book paints an appropriately complex picture of a real human being -- a drunk like me. Raphael's take on Bill W. is based on tremendous research and a great deal of thought, as well as the wisdom of long-term, "good" sobriety. The writing is lucid and readable, though I did have to consult the dictionary twice. (I don't mind that, though -- being stretched a little. Good books should do that, don't you think?) For anyone interested in AA's legendary cofounder, I give this book a 5-star recommendation. It doesn't get better than this for thoughtful members of the recovery community.
A disappointment Oct 17, 2000
I picked up this book after finishing Francis Hartigan's fine biography of Bill Wilson. I simply could not finish this book. "Raphael," the pseudonym of the author used in accordance with AA's 12th tradition, does a slip-shod job of reserching this subject, and mainly spends his time writing textual rifs based on his own interior monolog.
This kind of writing seemed OK in the 70s, but now that Raphael and I have sobered up, it doesn't seem very interesting.
Buy it, Read it! Think about it! Aug 8, 2000
Only 3500 copies initially published. Sure to be a cult book like Igor Sikorsky's "Aa's Godparents : Three Early Influences on Alcoholics Anonymous and Its Foundation : Carl Jung, Emmet Fox, Jack Alexander" and copies will be hoarded and in great demand. The cover of the book is outstanding, from a painting, NIGHTHAWKS by Edward Hopper 1942, its compelling.
The book, like its cover, also is compelling. The author has an easy to read but euridite and somewhat pedantic style that once I became used to it was very comfortable. Its been a long time since I encountered the terms termagant or fin de siecle.
The facts and narratives are always interesting and I find myself agreeing and disagreeing with a number of statements and conclusions but I have to think them out. Items covered extremely well are existentialism, deflation in depth, desire for salvation, The Varities of Relegious Exerience, and the list goes on. That it has compelled me to think out some preconceived views is what I find to be the best characteristic of this book. Read the book and "Let your response happen."
Factually it is nicely done. I admire and respect the author's endeavors.
That said, there are several holes that I wish had been explored:
The Hebrew and Greek concept of "Metanoia" is mentioned in a shallow passage that dismisses it as a purely "Protestant" concept. Father John Doe's, Ralph Pfau, writings would be a place to start. Repentance is more than confessing and saying you are sorry... (there are more than 4 steps!)
Where o where is any reference to Emmet Fox? The Sermon on the Mount has been called the "Little Big Book" and there are several histories where it is noted that it was given out at meetings before there was a big book. The author did a wonderful job of tying linage back to the (Shoemaker, Buchman) Oxford Group, I found myself wishing he had done the same with Emmet Fox. (The Sermon on the Mount is still AA approved literature.)
Several Long/Old/Seasoned Timers have mentioned that Bill, while writing the 164 pages at the mystical white kitchen table, constantly used and referenced the Bible, New Testament, and the book of James. I would have liked to have seen this aspect covered with the same ability the author showed with Nell Wing's viewpoint.
Bill W has a pamphlet which is AA approved and published where he addresses an AMA medical conference. In it he simultaneously describes the program along three tracks - 1) Psychological, 2) Philosophical, and 3) Spiritual. I found myself hoping the author was going to cover this material. Alas, no such chapter.
But it was a great book, I wanted more of the Author's reasoned, diligently researched and insightful conversational text. Even though I did not completely or necessarially agree, I really enjoyed the process of the reading experience. I truly enjoyed the book. It made me think, made me agree and disagree, informed me, and affected me. I really would like to have seen it be twice as long.
In the stepping stones section where the author discribes Lois W. as saying that Bill W. did truly achieve humility was wonderfully led up to, framed, and presented. I felt, se finis, as if Bill was saying to me, out of this book, "True ambition is to walk humbly and to live usefully under God's Grace."