In 1999, Bill Wilson was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Heroes and Icons of the 20th Century for his role as co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. But 65 years earlier, in 1934, he had faced almost certain death from his uncontrollable drinking. At the time, medicine viewed alcoholism as a symptom of deeper psychiatric issues, and alcoholics were treated with lobotomies, shock therapy, or imprisonment. Despite this, Bill Wilson found a way to sobriety, and then forged a path for countless others to follow.
With Bill as its driving force, A.A. grew from a handful of men to a worldwide fellowship of over 2 million men and women. Thousands of people throughout the world now credit him with saving their lives – both alcoholics and members of dozens of other 12 Step recovery groups. Bill’s leadership eventually made him an icon within A.A. – and a man unable to be a member of the very society he had created.
Through interviews, recreations, and rare archival material, Bill W. traces Wilson’s life through his 17 years of devastating alcoholism, the crucial years of A.A.’s founding and growth, his battle with depression, his experimentation with LSD, and his struggle with celebrity status in an anonymous society. A reluctant hero, Bill Wilson lived a life of sacrifice and service, and left a legacy of recovery that continues every day, all around the world.