Yale Library Book Talk: The Madman in the White House by Patrick Weil

Wednesday, May 10, 2023 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm
Sterling Memorial Library, International Room
120 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511

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.”

Yale Library Book Talks will focus on the research and writing process of Yale faculty, alumni, and other authors who have worked with Yale Library collections. 

This Yale Library Book Talk is part of this season’s series. Subscribe to Yale Library Book Talk mailing list to learn about future events. Suggestions for book and authors for future talks are welcome.