Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds
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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.
So far I managed to work through the first volume and believe me, it's amazing. Mackay is an accomplished chronicler and his simple narration of events creates some subtle irony. He does make a personal comment once in a while, none of it amiss.
Things I learnt so far:
1) Futures Cont ...more
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
La versione completa (in tre volumi) ha sezioni curiose e interessanti. Nel capitolo sui tormentoni linguistici di epoca vittoriana ad esempio si scopre da dove deriva il saluto che il bruco rivolge ad Alice ("Who Are You?") nel paese delle meraviglie; il capitolo sugòi avvelenamenti fa fare la consocenza con alcune trascurate fig ...more
Here is an example of one of the more stellar passages:
At last the man appeared upon the scene. Like all who have ever achieved so great an end, Peter the Hermit was exactly suited to the age; neither behind it, nor in advance of it; but acute enough to penetrate its mystery ere it was discovered by any other. Enthusiastic, chivalrous, bigoted, and, if not insane, not far...more
As always the rating system means different things to different people.
I guess I rated it a 2 star since 2 stars means on goodreads - it was ok.
Didn't like it though hence it didn't get 3 stars.
First of all looking at the title one might think that the author will actually analyse why/who popular delusions manifest themselves. He does not do that . All he does is to tell the history of remarkable events like the crusades, the alchemists, etc. But he fault is ...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