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Soul Surgery now available in paperback! This manual on personal evangelism is the earliest Oxford Group text and offers much insight into the 12th step practice of working with others. Buy a copy here or read it free as a download below.


Oxford Group books:

Soul Surgery by Howard Walter (pdf)
This book informed the practices of the Oxford Group. A concise manual for personal evangelism.

What is the Oxford Group?, by A Layman with a Notebook (pdf)

A good introduction to the Four Absolutes, Quiet Time, and other Oxford Group practices

I Was a Pagan, by V.C. Kitchen (pdf)
Personal narrative and description of the Group by a member of the “Alcoholic Squadron”, a group of Oxford Group drunks that included Bill Wilson.

Philosophy of Courage by Philip Leon, with a foreword by Glenn F. Chesnut (pdf)
A careful, systematic explanation of the Group’s practices and beliefs by a philosopher. Includes an excellent introduction by AA Historian Glenn Chesnut. The intro alone makes a perfect introduction to the Group for alcoholics/addicts in recovery. (read forward online)

Other material:

Unpublished NA 4th Step Guides (pdf)

Two guides to the 4th Step that were in early working manuscripts of the Basic Text and It Works. These excellent guides were sadly cut from the final drafts.

Becoming Recovered 1.0 an open source recovery text (pdf) (read an excerpt)
An “open source” recovery text. Describes a program based on the Big Book of AA, but in modern, accessible language. (read terms of use)


Manuscript Pages
Sample pages from the working manuscript of the Big Book of alcoholics anonymous

Time Line of 12 Step History
Articles describing the invention and development of the 12 Steps from the Oxford Group to the modern recovery movement. Gives historical background that supports the article “Three Views of Recovery.”


Three Views of Recovery
Describes three alternate, and not always complimentary, approaches to understanding the 12 Steps. You may have heard a variety of opinions in meetings about what the step are and how they work; this article should help explain these opinions. The time line above explains the historical roots of these different views.

The Program Is a Life Jacket, by Tom Powers
A discussion of the difference between the “fellowship” and the “program,” with a lot of other solid insight into the recovered life.

Four Types of Moral Inventory

Examines the Four Absolutes, Big Book resentment inventory, the 4th Step described in the 12×12, and one of Hazelden’s guides to the 4th Step. Suggests there is a difference between “Ideal” and “Introspective” inventory writing.

God, as we understood him
Recovery narrative by the webmaster of this site, discussing his experience with “coming to believe”.

The Danger of a Great Experience, by Ebenezer MacMillian
Sermon from an Oxford Group member from South Africa.

How Bill Wilson Learned that the 12 Steps Work for Drug Addicts, Too
Excerpts and discussion of one of Bill Wilson’s talks in which he remember Dr. Tom, an alcoholic and drug addict who brought the program to North Carolina.

Keeping it Simple, by Tom P. Jr
A discussion of some of the major controversies surrounding the 12 Step program and how to keep things simple.

Gresham’s Law and Alcoholic’s Anonymous
An excellent critique of the state of modern AA from a historical, and spiritual, perspective. A must read for folks new to the history of the 12 steps. This entry provides links to several places where the article can be read online.

Spiritual Diagnosis, by Henry Drummond
Article by a forerunner of the Oxford Group. In this article, which was a source of inspiration for Soul Surgery (see above), he explains his approach to personal evangelism.

Progressive Big Book Sponsorship
Details several interviews with Big Book sponsors and their insights into the 12 Steps.

“You Shyster You!”: a brief biography of Jimmy K.
Tells the story of NA founder, Jimmy K, mostly in his own words

History of the Beginner Classes, by Wally P

Reports on an early approach to introducing newcomers to the 12 Steps in four, short meetings.

The Story of Bill Pickle, by Frank Buchman
Founder of the Oxford Group tells the story of one of his formative experiences, his relationship with a bootlegger at Penn State.

Big Book Theology: We Agnostics and William James
Discusses the similarities between the discussion of God in the chapter “We Agnostics” and the pragmatic attitude toward religion taken by philosopher William James


Bill and Bob: the DVD of the play

Children of the Healer: Dr Bob’s Kids (book review)

Changed by Grace: V.C. Kitchen, the Oxford Group, and A.A. (book review)

25 Comments so far
Leave a comment, many thanks for your hard work and service.

Comment by matt

Hi. I was very suprised to see Dick B and the Orange Papers together on your web-site. I do although think both perspectives are important. It’s just that the Orange Papers run across the grain of the rest of your web-site. Interesting.

Have a Blessed day,

Comment by THOMAS MAXA

I really appreciate combining the Orange Paper opposition to AA so it can be studied and stand (or more likely fall) on its own comments, rather than third hand from those it offends. Contempt prior to invesitgation and all that. is a new discovery for me and has quickly moved into my top five websites – not just recovery, but my top five websites, period.

Keep up the good work.

Comment by Joe

To try to help fellow AA members, I have set up a Website containing many , AA, Al-Anon, & Spiritual Speaker talks. The downloads are all FREE.

Willie B

Comment by Willie Burns

Wow! What a collection Willie. Many many thanks my friend.

And thank you authors for a superb website.

And thank God I don’t have to obsess over a drink today because of the 12-Step solution.

Comment by Steve

Thank you so much for sharing. we record speaker at my home group each week and also make them available on mediafire

Comment by medguy1

Sometimes you just have to hold your nose when you are in search of free expression of views and facts. I’d much rather see my site in company with Orange, history lovers, the Bobgans, and cult or cure than be constrained by some moderator’s view of what people in recovery ought or ought not to see or hear. Here’s for tolerance–not “moderation.”

Comment by Dick B.

Hi, some useful information about Orange Papers and the accuracy of its ‘research’.

Enjoy the reading.

Comment by miles

For People who want to stop drinking, by asking God for help, not picking up the first drink, and regular attendance of aa meetings, the success ratio is one hundred percent on any given day.

Comment by vic p

Vic, on February 12, expressed a vew which could keep all serious AAs in the tent. It could also enable those who are Christians and appreciate the Original “old school” A.A. approach to do what I have done–stick with A.A., ask God’s help, refrain from drinking, and (yes) go to thousands of meetings. Above all, in the A.A. approach, to help the still suffering newcomer who is desperately seeking a way out. Why not let it go at that? Instead of grinding away at theology, religion, Bill’s shortcomings, and apologetics. God either is, or He isn’t–as Bill put it. And today there are lots in A.A. who will argue it either way. God Bless, Dick B.

Comment by Dick B.

Soul Surgery was first published in India I believe. A copy was very expensive and hard to come by. I’d sure recommend it to anyone who wants to see the first significant Oxford Group book. It was penned by Walter, Wright, and Buchman in parts. It certainly lays out the five C’s which are the heart of the middle A.A. Steps. Good for Step Study in making it available now.

Comment by Dick B.

What a wonderful resource! I’ve been sober and straight for almost 30 years, and just started to look at what’s online instead of reading my books – probably because there is no room left in the margins for notes lol! I’m excited to see that so much has developed and is available. Thank you for your hard work and dedication.

Comment by Linda in NH

Who wrote “Becoming Recovered” – it’s really, really well done.

Comment by Marlin

Linda’s remarks are heartwarming. It has been my experience in the last 10 years that the action is online. Not all good. Not all easy reading. Not all accurate. But offering such a wide variety of options that one could spend the rest of his or her life learning A.A. origins, history, founding, original program, and successes by clicking on google. The deluge of phone calls and emails I receive about questions and programs and books tells me people are surfing! Big time.

Comment by Dick B.

Whenever one purports to write about the origins of A.A., it short-changes the article when so much emphasis is placed on the Oxford Group. There were in fact some sixteen influences on the A.A. program. And the discussion should start with the Bible, Quiet Time, conversion, reading of literature and devotionals, Anne Smith’s Journal, Dr. William Silkworth, Professor William James, Carl Jung, Lay therapist Richard Peabody, hospitalization, fellowship, the teachings of Rev. Samue M. Shoemaker who was called a cofounder of A.A. by Wilson, the 28 Oxford Group principles that impacted on A.A., and the all important element of witnessing–working with others–focusing on the newcomer.

Comment by Dick B.

Great to see ALL the info here. I agree with Dick B., The Orange Papers should be read- I don’t agree with his conclusion- but they deserve to be here as much as Dick’s Jesus talk. Balance is sobriety, sanity. I will post some history for your site on the birth, 30 years ago, of the Big Book Step Study movement within A.A. That movement began a Fellowship wide return of AA groups to meetings solely focused on Big Book Recovery by adopting and following a disciplined group conscience: Oddly just like the original first AA meeting- The Borton group- in Cleveland. In 1981 AA meetings in New England were so far to the other extreme- no mention of God anymore, no prayers after wards,no mention of the Big book, it was all, ” Just don’t drink today and go to a meeting”. Big Book Step Study AA meetings turned out to be the antidote and balance to that weak AA message and group that dominated AA at the time.

Thanks for the website and your work.

Billy S. member, Hyannis Men’s Big Book Step Study Group.

Comment by Billy Snowden

And, Billy S., whoever you are, just what is the “Jesus talk?” Stick to the facts, and people will be blessed if and when you state and report them correctly. There is enough history to go around without obviously insulting remarks.

Comment by Dick B.

Nothing so small that it cannot be seen nor so large that it cannot be encompassed and yet …that I can perceive, even dimly, the expanse of all “creation” it is not necessary for me to know anything more than that. That I exist somehow allows me to conceive a higher power that believes in me. God. That’s all I need to satisfy my AA program.

Comment by Herb H

Stopping by for a look-see. Because I know so many of the people named in the by-lines, I drop by this site occasionally. I also post occasionally. I cannot say I agree with every direction the site takes or every comment made. But that’s true for AA itself, for alcoholics, for churches, and for politicians. However, it’s always tough when ad hominem attacks and criticisms appear. And that’s pretty rare on this site. It’s rampant on a very few others that also purvey history.

When I see the finger pointing, I remember the two rules that are helpful.(1) Whenever one points a finger at someone else, there are three pointing back at him. (2) More directly applicable to an AA is Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount–which early AAs considered absolutely essential to their program. And, the words or gist of Matthew 7:1-5 appear with some frequency in early A.A. comments. The verses say:”Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye. Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

For those who look at our history before they jump, just look at the Oxford Group expressions which crept into our Big Book and Steps. Mainly, look for the injunction that suggests: “What was our part.”

Pardon those of us who look to the Scriptures, as early AAs did. But when asked about the program, Dr. Bob’s usual response was “What does it say in the Good Book?”

God Bless, Dick B.

Comment by Richard G Burns

Such an amazing collection.

Thanks m’man…..I hope you and the family are well. I am with my wife and kids due to the miracle of sobriety.

Be well,


Comment by david diamond

Well, I might have liked this site until I followed the Big Book Videos link to the Plymouth House assisted videos where members who reveal their faces and first names break Tradition 11 – please review your content here and ask yourselves if the whole of AA may be being harmed by some of the content of this site.

Comment by Althea Goodrich Anonymous

I appreciate the full contents of your history. I believe it shouldn’t be judged by any one but god!!!
Everyone has a right to there opinion imaginary or real as it my be, it is there opinion.

Comment by Jacqueline Turner

Amazing resource. THANK YOU!

Comment by Greg Wood

Great stuff

Comment by David Rosenthal

What happen to the Videos of people spraking about their process of the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous?

Comment by Mauricio Zamarripa

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