Episode 71: Drunks: An American History

This week’s podcast features an interview with Christopher M. Finan, author of Drunks: An American HistoryThe book provides a fascinating history of alcoholism and its treatment from the beginning of American History to the present day. I enjoyed the experience of learning about my fellow drunks, what they endured and how they learned to help each other and in so doing, change the way society views the problem of addiction. 

Christopher was inspired to write the book from his own family history. Alcoholism was a problem in his family for generations, and while he was earning his PhD., his academic adviser suggested that perhaps he write a book about the history of alcoholism. It would take some twenty years before he would write the book, publishing it only this year.

Drunks: An American History is a must read for people in recovery. As an AA member, I found a new sense of appreciation for the Fellowship that saved my life, and the hard work that went into crafting the 12 Steps, the 12 Traditions, and the AA service structure. 

The book is available in hardcover, paperback and audio at indiebound.org. I purchased both the hardcover and the audiobook. I typically don’t like audiobooks, but I found it most enjoyable. The narrator did a truly excellent job. The book is well-written. It had me from the introduction and held my attention all the way through the end. If you would like to read an excerpt from the book, please be sure to check out our story from last week, AA’s Declaration of Independence.

Thank you, Christopher for writing this book, and for sharing a chapter on our site, and thank you ever so much for being so generous with your time to sit down and talk to me for this podcast. I enjoyed the conversation, and I think our podcast audience will enjoy it as well.

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JeanJohn Sbob k Recent comment authors

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Thanks for the podcast and all you do. I’ve just discovered this site and other resources for a non god based AA and I’m so grateful for them. Loved hearing some of the history and will pursue the book in its entirety. Thanks again.

John S

Thanks for Listening Jean. I’m glad that the site and podcast have been helpful to you. 

bob k
bob k

I became aware of Chris’s book about two months ago, and ordered it immediately. I wasn’t disappointed. Among other things, it’s very nicely written, the sort of storytelling that we in AA like so much. I also very much liked the multi-layered message of the Charles Adams account. In my book KEY PLAYERS IN AA HISTORY, Benjamin Rush, of those profiled, had the most tenuous connection to AA, BUT his is a strange and fascinating tale. I couldn’t NOT tell his tale. I have an above average knowledge of the subject matter, but I knew nothing of Handsome Lake, even… Read more »

John S

Thank you, Bob for your comment. I have always loved history and early  in my recovery, I read all of the AAWS books, “Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers”, “Pass it On”, and “AA Comes of Age.” I have also read your book, “Key Players” and all the great history articles on AA Agnostica and here. Yet for some reason, it seems that it has only just hit me after reading Christopher’s book how important it is to my recovery to have an understanding of all the history that preceded AA. I am in awe of Alcoholics Anonymous when… Read more »

bob k
bob k

We are nearing the 4 year anniversary of Whitby Freethinkers. A lot have come and gone who would have benefited by staying, but we have a core who’ve stayed, and our secular meeting has played a big part in their sobriety. We have 1, 2 and 3 year people.

For the group anniversary, we’ve decided to get Larry K. to speak. If he isn’t available, we’ll go with Satan.