Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

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Overview

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds is a singular casebook of human folly throughout the ages. This nineteenth-century landmark study of crowd psychology and mass mania includes accounts of classic swindles, schemes, and scams on a grand scale. The Mississippi Scheme that swept France in 1720, the South Sea Bubble that ruined thousands in England during the same decade, and the Tulipomania that practically consumed the Dutch imagination in the seventeenth century (fortunes were made and lost...
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Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading)

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Overview

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds is a singular casebook of human folly throughout the ages. This nineteenth-century landmark study of crowd psychology and mass mania includes accounts of classic swindles, schemes, and scams on a grand scale. The Mississippi Scheme that swept France in 1720, the South Sea Bubble that ruined thousands in England during the same decade, and the Tulipomania that practically consumed the Dutch imagination in the seventeenth century (fortunes were made and lost on fluctuations in the supply of tulip bulbs) are just a few of the examples of group hysteria in action included. Other chapters deal with fads and delusions that have sprung from ideas, beliefs, and causes that still have supporters today: the prophecies of Nostradamus, the coming of comets and Judgment Day, the Rosicrucians, and astrology. The book also surveys some highly controversial people and movements of the past such as necromancy, Father Hell and Magnetism, Anthony Mesmer and Mesmerism, the Crusades, sorcery and the burning of witches, the traffic in relics, the popularity of murder by slow poisoning, and the hero-worship of common thieves. After browsing through Extraordinary Popular Delusions, the reader may become convinced that human greed, folly, and madness -- if not human history -- are destined to repeat themselves.

Originally published in 1841, this is a serious but frequently hilarious study of mass madness, crowd behavior, and human folly.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780880290333
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 1/13/1989
  • Pages: 724

Meet the Author

Charles Mackay (1814-1889) was born in Perth, Scotland. His mother died shortly after his birth, and his father, who had been in turn a Lieutenant on a Royal Navy sloop (captured and imprisoned for four years in France) and then an Ensign in the 47th foot taking part in the ill-fated Walcheren Expedition where he contracted malaria, sent young Charles to live with a nurse in Woolwich in 1822.
After a couple of years' education in Brussels from 1828-1830, he became a journalist and songwriter in London. He worked on The Morning Chronicle from 1835-1844, when he was appointed Editor of The Glasgow Argus. His song The Good Time Coming sold 400,000 copies in 1846, the year that he was awarded his Doctorate of Literature by Glasgow University.
He was a friend of influential figures such as Charles Dickens and Henry Russell, and moved to London to work on The Illustrated London News in 1848, and he became Editor of it in 1852. He was a correspondent for The Times during the American Civil War, but thereafter concentrated on writing books.
Apart from Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, he is best remembered for his songs and his Dictionary of Lowland Scotch.

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Table of Contents

1. The Mississippi Scheme
2. The South-Sea Bubble
3. The Tulipomania

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 37 )
Rating Distribution

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(13)

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(11)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 38 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 11, 2010

    Extraordinary Book

    What an excellent read. I first became interested in this book when Sam Harris referenced it in his book, End of Faith. The book gives horrific descriptions of the inexplicable madness of people throughout the ages, and I enjoyed it very much.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2014

    Held my attention - astounding craziness!

    All to be repeated in our time. Witch hunts, fads and financial meltdowns.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted June 13, 2011

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