Cover: The Madman in the White House: Sigmund Freud, Ambassador Bullitt, and the Lost Psychobiography of Woodrow Wilson, from Harvard University PressCover: The Madman in the White House in HARDCOVER

The Madman in the White House

Sigmund Freud, Ambassador Bullitt, and the Lost Psychobiography of Woodrow Wilson

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$35.00 • £30.95 • €31.95

ISBN 9780674291614

Publication Date: 05/16/2023


400 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


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A captivating analysis of the history of the Wilson psychobiography that doubles as a biography of Bullitt. Along the way it vividly documents the shifts in American engagement with Europe from the first world war through the cold war from the standpoint of high-level diplomacy… Both as a work of scholarship and as a sweeping, almost novelistic tour of twentieth-century political affairs, it deserves a wide readership.—Nick Haslam, Inside Story

What is clear from Weil’s book is that history is not just a result of impersonal forces acting upon human decisions. The personalities and views of political leaders matter.—Francis P. Sempa, New York Journal of Books

[Weil’s] depiction of Bullitt is remarkable and compelling.—Carl Rollyson, New York Sun

[A] thought-provoking study of a psychological profile of the president… Weil draws an intriguing profile of Bullitt and others involved in the negotiations. It’s a convincing case that ‘personality is very often at the heart of policy.’Publishers Weekly

This is the wildly implausible and entirely true story of how Sigmund Freud, joined with a U.S. diplomat, wrote a whole book about the ills of the psyche of Woodrow Wilson. For the first time, Weil brings the content of the original Freud manuscript to light, as well as giving a rich study of the role of personal psychology in the shaping of the new global order after World War I. So long as so much political power is concentrated in one human mind, we are all at the mercy of the next madman in the White House.—Gary J. Bass, author of The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide

A remarkable and valuable contribution which merits applause. There is unlikely to be another account to rival it. Weil has explored with great thoroughness—and detachment—the story of the enigma surrounding Woodrow Wilson and the fascinating events of 1919 which continue to remain such.—Antony Lentin, Wolfson College, University of Cambridge

Patrick Weil has given us a vivid group portrait of Sigmund Freud, William Bullitt, and Woodrow Wilson—actors in and witnesses to the great drama of the Treaty of Versailles. Based on newly unearthed archival evidence that sheds light on how Freud and Bullitt wrote a biography of the twenty-eighth president of the United States, this is an urgent reappraisal of critical events of twentieth-century history.—Élisabeth Roudinesco, author of Freud: In His Time and Ours

A generation ago diplomats could be real shapers of foreign policy, and not just the president’s messengers. William C. Bullitt was among the most influential of them. He served in the American delegation at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, and he represented the United States as ambassador in Moscow and in Paris as World War II approached. He was close to both Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Along the way he met Sigmund Freud and collaborated with Freud in a controversial analysis of Wilson’s character. Patrick Weil uses Bullitt’s career to probe the significance of personality in American presidential decision-making. This unusual book enriches and completes a story that we may have thought we knew well.—Robert O. Paxton, author of The Anatomy of Fascism

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