Citizen Review: Undrunk

A customer contacted me out of the blue, asking if he could write a review of a book he had purchased recently at Magers & Quinn. He had found the book to be very useful, but was worried that the title might be off-putting to potential readers. Here then is his review; the author’s name has been withheld by request.

Undrunk : A Skeptic’s Guide to AA
Two things led me to this book, for which I am grateful, neither the title or subtitle but the foresight of the publisher: leading me to the name of the writer of the Foreword [ed.–Mel B.] (who I know and respect) and the sample chapter pages on their website.

The title/subtitle at first glimpse caused a reaction that this was going to be a tirade about the failings of the A.A. philosophy (which wouldn’t fit well with the publisher that I am familiar with [ed.–Hazelden]) nothing could be further from the content of this book.

This is an important book. Part of the fact that it is a short and to the point read is an essential element. The attention span of most people coming off of alcohol is not especially long. While I’m convinced that sponsorship is an essential element of the A.A. program, even with the best possible relationship questions need to be asked and this writer has given the newcomer a well-rounded collection of answers in an intelligent way. There is actually a lot more information than I believe most people in this program understand with much more time in it.

Unless we’ve been to a lot of the same meetings (very unlikely) he has experienced an awful lot of detailed events that are universal occurrences in A.A. in my 30 years in this fellowship and hearing about these things early on helps to take the distraction away from the reason for being there.

Magers & Quinn is located in the heart of where A.A. was first practiced in the early 1940s in Minnesota and to its credit had this book in my hands in three days online.

Usually when I buy a book I “expect” to learn something that I didn’t know about the topic–I figured this would be an exception as the writer had just achieved his first year in A.A. recovery and I have, actually, learned a lot. Generational and cultural perspective that is a distance away from my own are woven into his writing. Aside from the fact that the subject is near and dear, it is an exceptional job of the writing craft.

I’ve read through hundreds of books related to A.A. and its history and know that this will become one of the all time most widely read by those looking for a way out of the hell of alcoholism.

It will be a regular acquisition for those that I sponsor and is already in the hands of a few and being passed on.