Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, originally published in 1841, is a landmark study of crowd psychology and mass mania, and a singular casebook of human folly throughout the ages. Chronicled here are accounts of swindles, schemes, and scams on a grand scale. Other chapters deal with fads and delusions that have sprung from ideas, beliefs, and causes that still have champions today: the prophecies of Nostradamus, the coming of comets and Judgment Day, the Rosicrucians, and astrology. The book also surveys controversial people and movements of the past: necromancy, Father Hell and Magnetism, Anthony Mesmer and Mesmerism, the Crusades, sorcery and the burning of witches, and the popularity of murder by slow poisoning.
After browsing through Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, the reader may become convinced that human greed, folly, and madness-if not the essence of human history-are at least destined to repeat themselves. The book remains as fascinating and compelling today as was when it was written in the nineteenth century.