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.
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About the Author
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This short version of Charles MacKay's book, Estraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, which was first publilshed in 1841, should be on the reading list for anyone looking to make a fast buck, in the stock market or elsewhere. Change the names, places and time frame, and you would swear that it was just written. Amazing!! Popular delusions affect many investors - just ask Madoff, and other swindlers. The urge to "get rich quick" is mostly delussional. Once in ten thousand investments does one "hit the jackpot". The "Hula-hoop" back in the 50's is a classical example of hitting it big. President Obama should take the time to read this, but then again, he may not be invested in the market, or anywhere else. Americans are easily swayed by the "Rainmaker". This book, if read and compared to today's current affairs in the United States, and around the world, will reveal that human beings are gullable, as well as greedy, otherwise, they would be more cautious with whom they place their trust with their hard earned funds.