Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds
First published in 1841, I think it has been in print continually ever since. Rare for a non fiction book.
I read it about once every 10 years to remind myself of mob psychology.
One of my favorite genres.
Also the author has a gift for storytelling.
About a dozen chapters, each one about a different set of events.
All examples of mob behavior.
How people can abandon critical analysis when "everyone else is doing it".
About the balance between Fear an...more
I will list a few a few of the stories I liked best.
The first chapter teaches us about a Scottish character named...more
And I see it is now available through Project Gutenberg and for free for one's Kindle, so Amazon will be my next stop tonight.
Written in 1841, "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds" by Charles Mackay, the book is a great fun to read. Let me just quote wikipedia, "The subjects of Mackay's debunking include economic bubbles, alchemy, crusades, witch-hunts, prophecies, fortune-telling, magnetisers (influence of imagination in curing disease), shape of hai...more
It is a great cautionary tale about how easily we fall into error, and warns against some of the bigger errors that we have fallen into. As such, this book is valuable to remind ou...more
I understand completely why this text was reissued: the parallels to contemporary events (like the dot-com bubble, the housing bubble, the crash of 2007 and frenzied investment in Iraqi infrastructure and petroleum projects) are so striking as to almost seem contrived. It's like history has conspired to bear out MacKay's thesis to perfection: you could hardly hope for better validation outisde of a laboratory!
The illumination cast by his thesis itself is probably worthy of a five-star rating, bu...more
Most interesting parts were probably the mississippi and south sea bubbles, the crusades, the witch-hunts, and the thugs.
The book is very obviously victorian – moralising tone, tendency to gloss over 'prurient' (as the book puts it) details. There is also some irony in that certain beliefs the author takes as well-established might not be so widespread today. The magnetisers was probably the most boring section; being close to the author's...more
Written in 1841 or thereabouts, this book purports to be an examination of various ways in which people en masse are subject to, as the title says, popular delusions and madnesses - delusions and madnesses that are often specifically of their time and place (e.g. witch mania or religious cru...more
If Mr. Insana’s observation on the rear cover of this compendium of Charles Mackay’s and Joseph de la Vega’s treatises sounds like a bit of hyperbole, let's just remember that Mr. Insana writes for CNBC.
I haven’t read enough primary litera...more
Interruptions aside, I devoured this book. I was worried that it'd be a bit dry, being an analytical look at the various madnesses of the past. However, the only chapter that really felt like it dragged on was t...more
What I didn't appreciate was the fact that the book was written over 150 years ago! The style of writing I also found difficult to follow. I didn't feel that it was particularly straight forward, it tended to get too descriptive in my opinion.
I did however enjoy the chapter about the crusades, having studied...more
I found "Extraordinary Popular Delusions" in a used bookstore and was sold as soon as I read some of the chapter headings:
"Influence of Politics and Religion on the Hair and Beard"
"Duels and Ordeals"
The author goes to great lengths to illuminate these and a plethora of other instances of human mass insanity. He writes in a lively way that makes even his fifty page introduction on a failed French investment scheme seem entertaining. A...more
Please note that all 3 volumes appear on Project Gutenberg for those people who don't mind reading from a screen. The version that I read contains most chapters that appeared in the 3 volumes. The chapters that are in the Gutenberg version but not my version are 'The O.P. Mania', 'The Thugs, or Phansigars' and 'The Love of the...more
He covers a wide range of top...more
From the financial point of view, we are reminded of how much the old French saying about same and cha...more
The best reason I have to recommend MacKay is that...more