Medicine: Passionately Anonymous

The 15,000 men and women who thronged California's Long Beach Memorial Stadium last week differed from most conventioneers in one major respect: there was no danger that any of them would get together in a hotel room to kill a bottle. For this was Alcoholics Anonymous, mustering its recovered, sworn-off drinkers, their relatives and well-wishers to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

Uncrowned but undisputed head of A.A. is Bill W., a tall Vermonter in his early 60s who drank himself out of a lucrative career as a high-risk stock operator. "In 1934," he recalls, "my...

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