Yale Library Book Talk: The Madman in the White House by Patrick Weil
Patrick Weil will speak about his new book “The Madman in the White House: Sigmund Freud, Ambassador Bullitt, and the Lost Psychobiography of Woodrow Wilson.” Drawing on material found in the William C. Bullitt papers in Yale’s archives, Weil tells the story of Bullitt’s collaboration with Sigmund Freud to write a psychological analysis of President Woodrow Wilson, whose destructive handling of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles prompted Bullitt to question Wilson’s state of mind. Drafted in 1932, the book was not published until 1966 in a heavily redacted edition that was panned by critics and discredited by Freud’s descendants.
For nearly a century, the mysterious, original Bullitt and Freud manuscript remained hidden from the public. Then in 2014, while browsing the archives of Yale University, Weil happened upon the text. Based on his reading of the 1932 manuscript, Weil examines the significance of Bullitt and Freud’s findings and offers a major reassessment of the notorious psychobiography. The result is a powerful warning about the influence a single unbalanced personality can have on the course of history.
Patrick Weil is Oscar M. Ruebhausen Distinguished Fellow at Yale Law School and a research professor at the National Center for Scientific Research in France. The founder and president of Libraries Without Borders, he is the author of “The Sovereign Citizen” and “How to Be French.”