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April 10, 2019

US of AA – Author Joe Miller Q & A


April is Alcohol Awareness Month and the publication month for US of AA so we interviewed author Joseph Miller about the research and writing process for his new book about the intertwined histories of the founding of AA and the science of alcoholism. Read below to learn how his narrative structure transformed during his research and what he hopes people will understand about alcoholism after reading his book.

US of AA

US of AA is unique in that it tells a comprehensive history of alcoholism in America while treating science as the hero of the story, which you described in your prologue. Was the story always structured around the science or was that something that developed later on in the process?

It developed as I went along. The project started as a personal quest to find something other than AA to help me with my own drinking problem. Doctors and therapists kept telling me that the only solution was AA. I went looking for alternatives, and when I learned that there were medications available that could help me, and that these medications had been available for decades and hardly anyone knew about them, I knew I had a story.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?

It was challenging to tell this 80-year history as a cohesive and compelling story, because all the principal and most interesting characters in the beginning die before the end. That’s why I made science the central character, but that brought its own challenges, because scientific information can be difficult to spin into narrative.

Your book unpacks a lot of twists and turns in the history of AA that aren’t often known. What were you most shocked to learn during your research?

I was surprised to discover that the question of whether or not alcoholism is a disease made it all the way to the Supreme Court. And not only that, it was one of the few cases where the justices were unable to reach a majority. It was a 4-4-1 split.

What do you hope readers will take away from reading US of AA?

I hope readers will understand that people who struggle with drinking problems don’t need to drink until they “hit bottom” so that they’re ready for the spiritual remedy of the 12 Steps, that this is a myth or a trick that was created through AA and a long PR campaign.

What five people—living, dead, fictional or nonfictional—would you have over for a dinner party and why?

Bob Dylan, and whatever four other people would make him feel comfortable enough to open up. His work really speaks to me, and I’ve read and watched everything I can find about him, but I’m always hungry to know more about his life and how he’s been able to do everything he’s done and keep going.



Apr 13, 2019
JustinS Taylor says:

Is there any contact information, an email address?? for joe miller?

Apr 19, 2019
Ben says:

His website (with his other contact info) is “”. (presumably there is also info in the book!)

Apr 22, 2019
Walter Klausmeyer says:

Love this book! Thank you Joe!!!

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