Second Edition of The Big Book is Published in 1955

Second Edition of The Big Book is Published in 1955

  The second edition of Alcoholics Anonymous reflects the membership’s growing diversity. The chapters on A.A. principles remain the same, and eight of the stories of early members’ efforts to achieve sobriety are retained in a section called “Pioneers of A.A.” In addition, 24 new stories appear in two separate sections: “They Stopped in Time” and “They Lost Nearly All.” The Twelve Traditions are added as well.


Second Edition 1st Printing with rare '1955 St. Louis Convention' Dust Jacket 
     By 1953, it was evident that the personal stories in the first edition of the Big Book were somewhat dated. Of the 28 veterans whose stories were represented, five had gone back to drinking, eight more had slipped after the book was published but had come back to A.A., and 15 had remained continuously sober. The experience of the first members now needed to be expanded to include more stories by women, more "high bottom" stories, and more stories by younger members.

     For the second edition, Bill went out of his way to include one story that had been conspicuously missing from the first. that of Bill Dotson, A.A. #3. Bill D. said later that he was one of those not interested in the book project in 1938, and he did not share Bill W.'s vision of A.A.'s future. But in 1952, when Bill D.'s health was failing (and after he had experienced two years as delegate at the General Service Conference), Bill W. persuaded him to record his story.

     Bill Wilson was responsible for getting many of the other stories for the second edition himself, taping the experiences of oldtimers which he thought were particularly helpful. Others were asked to write or record their stories with a view to showing the broader range of the membership in the mid-50's. All these stories were thoroughly screened, and in the preparation of the second edition, Bill was assisted by Ed B. and Nell Wing.

     The original text in the first 164 pages was unchanged. In addition to Bill's and Dr. Bob's stories, six others were carried over from the first edition; 30 new stories were included; and the present division of the story section into three parts was instituted.

     By the time the second edition was introduced in time for the International Convention in St. Louis in 1955, the first edition had gone through 16 printings and 300,000 copies.

The Year

1955

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