- Hardcover: 307 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin, Riverside Press; 1st edition (1967)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B000GLKCWY
- Package Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.7 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,426,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Thomas Woodrow Wilson A Psychological Study Hardcover – 1967
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The story of the book and its publication is probably as interesting as anything that is in it. Bullitt and Freud knew each other. How they came to write the volume is explained in Bullitt's introduction. It was not published until 1966. Bullitt explains that Freud and he did not want to publish it while Wilson's widow was alive -- how gentlemanly -- and she lived until 1961. By that time there was a dispute between Bullitt, who was in the final stages of his life, and Freud's heirs about how much Freud had actually written and whether Bullitt was exploiting Freud's name to add value to what he had written. Those are questions that are almost certainly beyond answering now.
In light of that, the book should not be taken as a definitive personal history of Woodrow Wilson. How seriously to take it is up to every reader. If it paints a generally accurate picture of Wilson, then it is frightening to think that he ever got near the White House. But I can see that a case could be made that fairness went out the window long before Bullitt and Freud got to the end of the book. I would also note that it should be possible to accept the disturbing view of Wilson without buying Freud's theories of why he was the way he is portrayed. Again, if the reader finds the book's portrayal of Wilson credible.
At any event, the questions that are raised about the first president to truly make the United States a player on the world stage are always relevant and there will
almost certainly never be a final answer to them. Bullitt and Freud's work left me hungering to read more about Wilson than I have before.
Contrary to what I've been taught, the authors take the position that the "peace" negotiated by Wilson at Versailles was not a good result and that the Congress legitimately refused to support the treaty proposed by Wilson.
An interesting book that went into the WWI Peace process and before that, his rise to the presidency, the governorship of New Jersey, the presidency of Princeton and more.
It went into great detail how sickly he was his entire life. We all know about his his stroke while president, but he had numerous nervous breakdowns and other ailments that, if he ran today, would block his being considered for the White House.This is a good bio, not great, so there are others that I would recommend first, but if you have read those, then this is a good one to compliment your other readings of President Wilson.
1) The psychological analysis, though occasionally peaking into moments of sheer briliance, is generally representative of the worst ends of Freud's psychological theories. For Example: When Wilson became deathly ill with worry during the Paris Peace Conference, was it because he was terrified at the magnitude of the task he faced? Because he was conscience-stricken at having deceived the nation before plunging us into war? Because he wanted to make a good impression on Lloyd George, Clemenceau, and the peoples of Europe? No; according to Freud, it's because he possessed a "feminine" character (read: weak and overly-emotional), and thus could not handle a situation which called for "masculine" virtues. Flawed logic like this is riddled throughout the book, and used to explain pivotal moments both in Wilson's personal life and in our nation's history. Subjects such as his adoration for his father, the Reverend Joseph Ruggles Wilson, his early academic difficulties, the brilliance that came behind the writing of "Congressional Government", his ongoing feud with Princeton sacred cow Andrew West, his progressivism both as Governor of New Jersey and President of the United States, his two marriages, his handling of our nation's foreign policy during the World War One era... all of these matters are explained using faulty Freudian logic that does not hold up to the light of scrutiny, and virtually all of their conclusions paint Wilson in the most disparaging light possible.
2) The writers of this book make no bones about their distinct anti-Wilson bias. In his very introduction, Freud discusses how much he loathed President Wilson, before trying to assure us that this would not impact his perspective; William Bullitt, though more coy about his actual feelings, was known to be a great admirer of Wilson up until 1919, when his disapproval of Wilson's decisions at the Paris conference caused him to famously give a red rose to all those who were willing to openly condemn their President, and a yellow rose of cowardice to anyone who dared agree with him. Since then, Bullitt became notorious as a particularly noxious anti-Wilson speaker, even succumbing to paranoid spells (such as believing that government agents were tape recording his conversations through the radiator). I am fully aware that there are those who argue that objectivity is impossible, and on most occasions I am inclined to agree with them; but an author should at least try to give his subject a fair break, especially when composing a work that is ostensibly supposed to serve as an academic analysis, rather than a bloated op-ed piece.
3) This may seem like a minor point, but it seriously irked me - Freud and Bullitt openly admitted that one of the main reasons behind their decision to wait so long before publishing their book is that they didn't want to upset any of Wilson's close friends or family members. Could I buy this? Yes... if they were releasing hard data pertaining to scandal in the life of Woodrow Wilson. However, the book makes countless negative assertions about Wilson that are not supported by any verifiable sources (they don't name names), and it is interesting to note how the only people who would have been qualified to dispute their claims from first-hand experience are the ones who had died just before the book was released. This, to me, is nothing short of contemptible cowardice; they are the equivalent of a bully who waits until their subject and his supporters have left the room, locks the door, and then proceeds to slander them.