This volume originated when William C. Bullitt began working on a book of studies of the principle personalities surrounding the Treaty of Versailles. In discussing this project with Sigmund Freud, the idea arose of a collaborative work on Woodrow Wilson. They worked on the book for ten years, reading all of Wilson's published books and speeches as well as volumes written about Wilson. After perusing this material, Bullitt and Freud realized that they could not write an analysis of Wilson's character unless they deepened their understanding of his nature with private, unpublished information from his intimates. They then set out to collect diaries, letters, records, and memoranda from various associates of Wilson.
Freud writes in his introduction that he did not begin this study with an objective view of Wilson, but rather held an unsympathetic view of him. But he goes on to say that while reading through materials about Wilson, his strong emotions underwent a thorough subjugation. He describes Wilson as a person for whom mere facts held no significance; he esteemed highly nothing but human motives and opinions. As a result, writes Freud, it was natural for him in his thinking to ignore the facts of the real outer world, even to deny they existed if they conflicted with his hopes and wishes. This habit of thought is visible in his contacts with others. Freud also notes that there was an intimate connection between Wilson's alienation from the world of reality and his religious convictions.
The book opens with a thirty-page biography of Wilson written by Bullitt. The collaborative psychological study that makes up the bulk of the volume then follows. Woodrow Wilson provides readers with a more intimate knowledge of the man, which in turn leads to a more exact estimate of his achievements. This intriguing psychoanalytic study will be of continuing interest to historians, political scientists, psychologists, and sociologists.show more