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Erikson, E.H. (1967). Thomas Woodrow Wilson: Twenty-Eighth President of the United States—A Psychological Study: By Sigmund Freud and William C. Bullitt. (New York: Houghton, Mifflin; London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1967. Pp. 307/265. $6.00. 36s.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 48:462-468.
    

(1967). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 48:462-468

Thomas Woodrow Wilson: Twenty-Eighth President of the United States—A Psychological Study: By Sigmund Freud and William C. Bullitt. (New York: Houghton, Mifflin; London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1967. Pp. 307/265. $6.00. 36s.)

Review by:
Erik H. Erikson

Another bad book on Wilson would not necessarily call for review. Nor would a bad book by William C. Bullitt. A distinguished public servant, Ambassador Bullitt does not owe the world a good book, even though many public servants think they do. But a disastrously bad book on Wilson, written in collaboration with Sigmund Freud and carrying a subtitle that raises the issue of the American presidency itself must be reviewed. It is of concern to those who are carrying on Freud's work and recognize its fundamental grandeur even where it is most dated and most open to question. It is also of concern to historians who do not wish to shirk the task of giving a considered account of the ambiguities of greatness. But above all, it has a certain desperate relevance for all those who are aware of the indispensability of psychological insight in matters of war and peace—including the question of the wide personal margin permitted to the American president and his advisers.

Perhaps nothing characterizes the tone of this book so well as the obsessive frequency with which Woodrow Wilson is referred to as "little Tommy":

… Tommy Wilson always tried to be on the side of the angels: he endeavored to think about serious matters and he attempted to express his thoughts in distinguished phrases. Those were exceptional attributes in the United States after the Civil War, when most men of ability were concentrating on the acquisition of wealth. They gave Tommy Wilson both prestige and an endearing idealism.

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