Affiliation with Alcoholics Anonymous parallels religious conversion, according to David R. Rudy in this timely study of the most famous self-help organization in the world.
Drinkers who commit themselves to Alcoholics Anonymous embrace the radically different life-style, the altered world of the convert.
To understand this conversion and, more important, to get a grip on the even deeper mystery of alcoholism itself, Rudy sought to answer these three questions: What processes are involved in becoming alcoholic? How does the alcoholic affiliate with, and become committed to, A. A.’s belief system? What is the relationship between the world of A. A. members and that constructed by alcohologists?
Rudy establishes the history and structure of A. A. and examines the organization’s relationship to dominant sociological models, theories, and definitions of alcoholism.
This study offers a comprehensive, critical look at what is known and not known about children of alcoholics, and also constructs a model for assessing existing theory and introducing new methodological rigor into this field.
Throughout the African American community, individuals and organizations ranging from churches to schools to drug treatment centers are fighting the widespread use of crack cocaine. To put that fight in a larger cultural context, Doin' Drugs explores historical patterns of alcohol and drug use from pre-slavery Africa to present-day urban America.
William Henry James and Stephen Lloyd Johnson document the role of alcohol and other drugs in traditional African cultures, among African slaves before the American Civil War, and in contemporary African American society, which has experienced the epidemics of marijuana, heroin, crack cocaine, and gangs since the beginning of this century. The authors zero in on the interplay of addiction and race to uncover the social and psychological factors that underlie addiction.
James and Johnson also highlight many culturally informed programs, particularly those sponsored by African American churches, that are successfully breaking the patterns of addiction. The authors hope that the information in this book will be used to train a new generation of counselors, ministers, social workers, nurses, and physicians to be better prepared to face the epidemic of drug addiction in African American communities.
Of the some sixty thousand vacant properties in Philadelphia, half of them are abandoned row houses. Taken as a whole, these derelict homes symbolize the city’s plight in the wake of industrial decline. But a closer look reveals a remarkable new phenomenon—street-level entrepreneurs repurposing hundreds of these empty houses as facilities for recovering addicts and alcoholics. How It Works is a compelling study of this recovery house movement and its place in the new urban order wrought by welfare reform.
To find out what life is like in these recovery houses, Robert P. Fairbanks II goes inside one particular home in the Kensington neighborhood. Operating without a license and unregulated by any government office, the recovery house provides food, shelter, company, and a bracing self-help philosophy to addicts in an area saturated with drugs and devastated by poverty. From this starkly vivid close-up, Fairbanks widens his lens to reveal the intricate relationships the recovery houses have forged with public welfare, the formal drug treatment sector, criminal justice institutions, and the local government.
Compelling, raw, and painfully self-aware, In the Open describes an existence most people can barely imagine. A first-hand account of one man's struggle with homelessness and alcoholism, this diary records a world full of physical degradation and despair that is not without unpredictable moments of striking beauty.
Donohue's experiences are brutal, but his perceptions are poetic. This account of an intelligent and sensitive man in the grip of alcoholism and homelessness challenges our perceptions of those on the margins of American contemporary life.
"Donohue recorded this often-moving account during a four-year period of homelessness caused by his alcoholism. . . . There are many brilliant observations here on a range of topics, including human nature, technology, and capitalism. . . . Donohue's life on the fringe also provides an inside look at the homeless system of overnight shelters, labor offices, and food stamp providers. But, somehow, in spite of all the negatives, a hopeful book emerges."—Booklist
"A startlingly original book. In this confessional age, Donohue's diary becomes a different sort of tell-all, a palimpsest that forces us to extract the author from his own writing. . . . Donohue comes to resemble Swift's Gulliver"—Nicholas Nesson, Boston Phoenix
"Donohue punctuates his account of 'domiciling within the black walls of a mosquito-infested night' with rambling metaphysical asides in the style of an eighteenth-century philosophe."—Molly McQuade, Lingua Franca
"Despite hunger, homelessness, dead-end jobs and abusive drinking, what is most striking about Donohue is his amazing optimism and endurance."—Patrick Markee, Nation
"Donohue is a gifted writer. . . . But what gives [his diary] the breath of life is that it is written by an artist."—Alec Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times Book Review
James Patrick Lyons abandoned his family for a life on Kansas City’s skid row. A town drunk, he was arrested eighty times for public intoxication. On the night of his last arrest, he was taken to the city jail and held in solitary confinement. The next morning he was dead. Officials said it was natural causes—yet they could not explain his broken neck.
When Richard Serrano learned of the grandfather he had never known, the longtime journalist embarked upon a search that led him deep into the city’s wide-open and ignoble past. He stumbled upon his maternal grandfather’s death certificate from 1948 and discovered that the evidence pointed to murder in that basement cell. That revelation triggered a blizzard of questions for Serrano and provided the impetus for this engrossing story.
Part memoir, part historical mystery, My Grandfather’s Prison takes readers back to a crossroads year for Kansas City. The Great Depression and World War II were over, yet vestiges still lingered from the corrupt Pendergast political machine. The city jail itself was a throwback to the old lockups and rock piles of popular fiction, while the sheriff’s office was dishonest and inept—and tried to cover up the death.
Much has been written about Tom Pendergast and the iron hand with which he ruled Kansas City until his fall. Serrano’s personal journey into that time takes the story further into those crucial years when the city tried to shake off the yoke of machine politics and political corruption and step into a new era of reform.
In his quest to uncover the details of his grandfather’s life, Serrano re-creates the flavor of mid-twentieth-century Kansas City. He shows us real-life characters who broaden our understanding of the city’s history: sheriffs and deputies, political bosses and coroners. And he also discovers a city filled with lost souls like James Lyons: the denizens of Kansas City’s skid row, a neglected area near the river bottom that once housed the city’s gilded community but now was home to derelicts and drunks.
As Serrano gradually comes to terms with the darker side of his family history, he traces a parallel reconciliation of the city with its own sordid past. James Lyons died just as the old ways of the city were dying, and this spellbinding account shows how one town in one time struggled with its past to find a brighter future.
Since the middle of the nineteenth century, sobriety movements have flourished in America during periods of social and economic crisis. From the boisterous working-class temperance meetings of the 1840s to the quiet beginnings of Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1930s, alcoholics have banded together for mutual support. Each time they have developed new ways of telling their stories, and in the process they have shaped how Americans think about addiction, the self, and society.
In this book Eoin Cannon illuminates the role that sobriety movements have played in placing notions of personal and societal redemption at the heart of modern American culture. He argues against the dominant scholarly perception that recovery narratives are private and apolitical, showing that in fact the genre's conventions turn private experience to public political purpose. His analysis ranges from neglected social reformer Helen Stuart Campbell's embrace of the "gospel rescue missions" of postbellum New York City to William James's use of recovery stories to consider the regenerative capabilities of the mind, to writers such as Upton Sinclair and Djuna Barnes, who used this narrative form in much different ways.
Cannon argues that rather than isolating recovery from these realms of wider application, the New Deal–era Alcoholics Anonymous refitted the "drunkard's conversion" as a model of selfhood for the liberal era, allowing for a spiritual redemption story that could accommodate a variety of identities and compulsions. He concludes by considering how contemporary recovery narratives represent both a crisis in liberal democracy and a potential for redemptive social progress.
When first published in 1970, Stations of the Lost won the C. Wright Mills Award for Best Book in the Area of Social Problems. The study considers the Skid Row alcoholic from two points of view, that of the alcoholic himself and that of the agents of social control who treat him. A major discovery of Wiseman's research was that Skid Row men spend only about one third of the year on Skid Row. The rest of the time is spent "making the loop"—going from Skid Row to city jail, to county jail, to the state mental hospital, to the missions, and back to Skid Row. While these facilities are designed to handle or rehabilitate Skid Row men, they are actually used by these men as a means of survival.
Staying Sober in Mexico City
By Stanley Brandes University of Texas Press, 2002 Library of Congress HV5283.M62M483 2002 | Dewey Decimal 362.29286092
Staying sober is a daily struggle for many men living in Mexico City, one of the world’s largest, grittiest urban centers. In this engaging study, Stanley Brandes focuses on a common therapeutic response to alcoholism, Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.), which boasts an enormous following throughout Mexico and much of Latin America. Over several years, Brandes observed and participated in an all-men’s chapter of A.A. located in a working class district of Mexico City. Employing richly textured ethnography, he analyzes the group’s social dynamics, therapeutic effectiveness, and ritual and spiritual life. Brandes demonstrates how recovering alcoholics in Mexico redefine gender roles in order to preserve masculine identity. He also explains how an organization rooted historically in evangelical Protestantism has been able to flourish in Roman Catholic Latin America.
Based on an ethnographic study spanning four years, George H. Jensen’s Storytelling in Alcoholics Anonymous: A Rhetorical Analysis calls upon Bakhtinian theory to analyze storytelling in AA.
Jensen introduces his study with an analysis of “Bill W.’s Story” as it appears in the first chapter of AA’s central text, Alcoholics Anonymous. Drawing on Walter Ong’s work on orality and literacy, he argues that “Bill W.’s Story” as it appears in print cannot fully capture the oral tradition of storytelling as it occurs in AA meetings.
In his first section, Jensen discusses storytelling as practiced by the Washingtonians, a temperance organization much like AA. He also discusses the influence of the Oxford Group’s (an international and interdenominational religious movement seeking to recapture the enthusiasm and dedication of first-century Christianity) spiritual program to the development of AA’s Twelve Steps. The remainder of the first section serves as an introduction of the culture of AA to outsiders.
In the second section, Jensen covers Bakhtin’s theory of the relationship between the author and the hero of a text, using Lillian Roth’s autobiographies as counterexamples of AA talks. He devotes an entire chapter in this section to explaining how AA meetings provide an example of what Bakhtin meant by carnival, a process through which humor, irony, and parody supply a mechanism for questioning commonly held beliefs. He shows how newcomers to AA move away from their egocentric personae as practicing alcoholics to adopt a new identity within AA. Drawing further on Bakhtin, he examines the autobiographical moments of AA talks, stressing that these moments never become fully autobiographical. AA talks, Jensen argues, are fragmented, yet achieve coherence through the interweaving of two important chronotopes. Finally, using Bakhtin’s discussion of heroes in autobiography, Jensen discusses the kinds of heroes one typically finds in AA talks.
Author Luke Longstreet Sullivan has a simple way of describing his new memoir: “It’s like The Shining . . . only funnier.” Thirty Rooms to HideIn tells the astonishing story of Sullivan’s father and his descent from one of the world’s top orthopedic surgeons at the Mayo Clinic to a man who is increasingly abusive, alcoholic, and insane, ultimately dying alone on the floor of a Georgia motel room. For his wife and six sons, the years prior to his death were characterized by turmoil, anger, and family dysfunction; but somehow they were also a time of real happiness for Sullivan and his brothers, full of dark humor and much laughter.
Through the 1950s and 1960s, the six brothers had a wildly fun and thoroughly dysfunctional childhood living in a forbidding thirty-room mansion, known as the Millstone, on the outskirts of Rochester, Minnesota. The many rooms of the immense home, as well as their mother’s loving protection, allowed the Sullivan brothers to grow up as normal, mischievous boys. Against a backdrop of the times—the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, fallout shelters, JFK’s assassination, and the Beatles—the cracks in their home life and their father’s psyche continue to widen. When their mother decides to leave the Millstone and move the family across town, the Sullivan boys are able to find solace in each other and in rock ’n’ roll.
As Thirty Rooms to HideIn follows the story of the Sullivan family—at times grim, at others poignant—a wonderful, dark humor lifts the narrative. Tragic, funny, and powerfully evocative of the 1950s and 1960s, Thirty Rooms to Hide In is a tale of public success and private dysfunction, personal and familial resilience, and the strange power of humor to give refuge when it is needed most, even if it can’t always provide the answers.
The temperance movement was the largest single organizing force for women in American history, uniting and empowering women seeking to enact social change. By the end of the century, more than two hundred thousand women had become members of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), and numerous others belonged to smaller temperance organizations. Despite the impact of the movement, its literature has been largely neglected.
In this collection of nineteen temperance tales, Carol Mattingly has recovered and revalued previously unavailable writing by women. Mattingly’s introduction provides a context for these stories, locating the pieces within the temperance movement as well as within larger issues in women’s studies.
The temperance movement was essential to women’s awareness of and efforts to change gender inequalities in the United States during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In their fiction, temperance writers protested physical and emotional abuse at the hands of men, argued for women’s rights, addressed legal concerns, such as divorce and child custody, and denounced gender-biased decisions affecting the care and rights of children. Temperance fiction by women broadens our understanding of the connections between women’s rights and temperance, while shedding light on women’s thinking and behavior in the nineteenth century.
Water Drops from Women Writers features biographical sketches of each writer as well as thirteen illustrations.