Jim Burwell’s Original Alcoholics Anonymous Multilith

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Copy #2 of the Pre-publication Multilith Printing of Alcoholics Anonymous Owned and Annotated by Jim Burwell – “The New York Atheist”
(The Man Who Contributed “God as we understand Him” to the Twelve Steps)

In mid-February of 1939, a pre-publication multilith copy of what, two months later, would become the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous was circulated to members, relatives, friends, ministers, psychologist and doctors for their comments and critiques. The exact number of printed copies is unclear – numbers of 100, 300 and (most commonly) 400 are mentioned in the records. These copies were sent out as “loan” copies with every expectation they would be returned with annotations – after which they would be destroyed. Many copies were returned and disposed of according to this plan, but a handful of others were not – resulting in no more than 50 – and perhaps as few as 25 copies – surviving.

This copy of the book has been rebound twice. Once at some point in the past, Jim Burwell had the book rebound with a uniform black cloth binding that had the title “Alcoholics / Anonymous // Book No. 2. / of the / First Hundred Mimeographed / Copies” on the front cover in gilt lettering. By 1993, this second binding was in need of replacement, so an identical looking black cloth binding (with exactly the same front cover title information) was created by Ron M. The first black cloth binding has been separately preserved along with the original endpapers from that binding. NOTE that the almost-never-seen red card covers (but not marked “Loan Copy” as some were supposed to have been) are both bound in here. Overall, an amazingly well- preserved and historically important annotated association copy of this major work that has saved the lives of so many people since its publication 85 years ago. This multilith is filled with amazing historical documentation written down by Jim Burwell.


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