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Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds: Volume 1, 2, and 3 PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds: Volume 1, 2, and 3
Author: Charles Mackay
Publisher: Published February 8th 2014 (first published 1841)
ISBN: null
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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This is a collection of the following three books. The collection has active table of contents for readers to access each chapter of the following titles: 1. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds: Volume 1, 2, and 3 – Charles MacKay 2. The Psychology of the Stock Market – George Charles Selden 3. How to Invest When Prices are Rising – Irving Fisher The This is a collection of the following three books. The collection has active table of contents for readers to access each chapter of the following titles: 1. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds: Volume 1, 2, and 3 – Charles MacKay 2. The Psychology of the Stock Market – George Charles Selden 3. How to Invest When Prices are Rising – Irving Fisher The above three books have a considerable impact on the history of social psychology, psychopathology, investment method. The three books also produced important impact on the research topics of economic bubbles, pseudoscience, popular delusions, hoaxes, and scientific investment. The three books inspired many legendary researchers and investors in the United States including Benjamin Graham (Author of The Intelligent Investor), George Soros, and Warren Buffett. Warren Buffett’s investment discipline and practice on the cycle of fear and greedy are in tandem with the observations in the books Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds and The Psychology of the Stock Market. Though the three books published in 1841 or in 1912, they still works today since the human psychology has not changed in the past century and will not change at all in the next century. This is a must read collection for readers who are interested in investing method and learning the history of major financial events around the world.

30 review for Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds: Volume 1, 2, and 3

  1. 5 out of 5

    James

    This is one of the greatest books ever written. 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 This is one of the greatest books ever written. 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 and Greed, and what happens when Greed turns to Fear. The first several chapters are about financial bubbles, the tulip frenzy in Holland, the South seas bubble in Britian, and the Louisiana scam in France. Then it moves on to other examples like the witch burning in Europe where over 100,000 people were killed by their neighbors because they were a "witch". Other chapters inclued dueling, haunted houses and more. If you buy at Amazon.com BEWARE: Some of the editions they sell are not complete, they only have the first 3 chapters. Usually amazon tells how many pages are in a book, they don't do that for any of the many editions of this particular book. Almost every library has a copy.

  2. 4 out of 5

    David

    In the weeks before the election, as the financial crisis spun ever farther out of control and the pundits' shrieks grew ever more shrill, I browsed through "Popular Delusions.." and found solace. Charles Mackay's extraordinary survey of the various manifestations of mass hysteria throughout history cannot help but offer perspective. He reminds us that, no matter how batshit crazy a particular fad might seem, it's already been done by our ancestors. There is truly nothing new under the sun; the In the weeks before the election, as the financial crisis spun ever farther out of control and the pundits' shrieks grew ever more shrill, I browsed through "Popular Delusions.." and found solace. Charles Mackay's extraordinary survey of the various manifestations of mass hysteria throughout history cannot help but offer perspective. He reminds us that, no matter how batshit crazy a particular fad might seem, it's already been done by our ancestors. There is truly nothing new under the sun; the catalog of human daftness, though entertainingly long and varied, is nonetheless finite. It's all here in Mackay's book, laid out with a kind of detached amusement that leaves no doubt as to where the author stands. Market craziness got you down? It may cheer you up to read about the Mississippi scheme that wrought such havoc on the French treasury in the 18th century, while the South Sea Bubble engulfed the English, or to refresh your memory on Holland's infamous Tulipomanic excesses. Three of the longer sections of the book are devoted to alchemy, the crusades, and witch-hunting. By the accumulation of examples and anecdotes across the geographical and historical spectrum (i.e. from different times and places), Mackay demonstrates that human folly remains a constant down the ages. He doesn't beat us over the head with this message - he simply assembles the data, with no overt analysis, and leaves us to draw the inevitable conclusion. Most of your favorite targets are discussed in the book: eschatological prophets, fortune tellers, spiritualists, mediums, and the good Dr Mesmer and his imitators. The anecdotes are often hilarious, even more so because of Mackay's tone of dry amusement. But he knows when to administer the coup de grace, as for example, when he shows how easy it is to attribute post hoc meaning to the notoriously vague quatrains of Nostradamus. One can only wish that the folks at The History Channel would read these sections and take them to heart. Shorter chapters are interspersed on topics as diverse as the wave of spouse-poisoning that swept through the courts of Europe in the 17th century, the influence of politics and religion on men's hair and beard styles, haunted houses, popular admiration of great thieves, duels, relics, and the sudden rise and fall of certain catchphrases or songs in big cities. (Yadda yadda yadda, anyone?) This book is ideal for browsing. It's all pretty interesting stuff, presented clearly and wittily. You can learn quite a bit and enjoy yourself doing so - what's not to like? This book deserves its status as a classic.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Markus

    Extraordinary Popular Delusions and Madness of the Crowds By Charles Mackay 1814-1889) Charles Mackay was a Scottish poet, journalist, author, anthologist, novelist, and songwriter remembered mainly for his book 'Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds'. The themes of the madness of the crowds are mostly situated in the eighteenth to the nineteenth century. The Mississippi scheme: Louis XIV died in 1715. The heir to the throne is an infant of only seven years of age, The Duke of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and Madness of the Crowds By Charles Mackay 1814-1889) Charles Mackay was a Scottish poet, journalist, author, anthologist, novelist, and songwriter remembered mainly for his book 'Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds'. The themes of the madness of the crowds are mostly situated in the eighteenth to the nineteenth century. The Mississippi scheme: Louis XIV died in 1715. The heir to the throne is an infant of only seven years of age, The Duke of Orleans assumed the reins of government, as regent. John Law was a Scotsman with financial experience from all over Europe over thirty years. With the help of exceptional gifts of intelligence, charm, and persuasion and some high ranking connection succeed in approaching the new regent with credible proposals to Save the country’s finances from its utmost state of disorder. He proposed the creation of paper money of which he had seen very successful operations in Holland and Germany. He was listened to and allowed to register a new bank called ‘Law and Company.' He went to work as proposed and could soon prove that his bank was prosperous and his methods safe. His next step in 1717 was to establish a new company ‘The Mississippi Company’ and obtained from the regent to have exclusive rights to trading with the province of Louisiana. The country was supposed to abound in gold and other precious metals. Letters Patent were issued and the company registered with two hundred thousand shares of five hundred lives each. It was then that the frenzy of speculation began to seize the whole nation. The entire country handed in their gold and silver in exchange for paper notes promising 120% revenue p.a. The system worked for a while due to ever more new share emissions, paying the income for the first patch. The rest of the story is the adventurous unravelling over several years of some grand illusions of hope, ending in disappointment and national disaster. The blame for the failure had been laid on John Law’s head, and he had to leave France in a hurry to avoid being lynched, but it is reported that the regent had been at the lever to overstep the limits of saving speculation. People never learn. Modern stock exchanges are no different. Except that they are slightly better managed. We have seen in our lifetime several speculation bubbles burst and crowds of people ruined. The south sea bubble; While John Law’s Mississippi scheme in France was at its highest point of popularity, the Earl of Oxford, in the year of 1711, introduced to England the “South Sea Company” with the pretended aim of restoring public credit. Similar to John Law’s scheme this company promised immense riches from the eastern coast of South America, the Gold and Silver mines of Peru and Mexico. Reports smartly spread reported that Spain was willing to concede four maritime ports for traffic. Philip V. of Spain however never had any intention of granting England any free trade to Spanish America. But the public confidence in the South Sea Company was not shaken, and investments continued at great sped and volumes. Even though the company had hardly any income from trade, it continued flourishing by purely financial means. In addition to this, the government promoted additional means of harvesting money from investors in passing acts of law like the South Sea Act, the Bank Act, and the General Fund Act. The great principle of the project was to raise artificially the value of the stocks, by exciting and influencing a general infatuation, and by promising dividends out of funds that could never be adequate to the purpose. It seemed at that time that the whole nation had turned stock-jobbers. Other schemes and innumerable joint-stock companies of the most extravagant kind started up everywhere. The popular appellation called the fittingly ‘bubbles ‘and mere cheats. I leave it to the future reader to follow the unravelling of this national disaster to the end. Just like in France at almost the same time. The Tulipmania: The tulip seems to have been a flower originating from Constantinople. A certain Conrad Gesner says that he first saw it in 1559 in a botanical garden in Augsburg. In the course of ten to twenty year afterwards, tulips were much sought after by the rich and famous of Holland and Germany. The first tulips planted in England came from Vienna in 1600. Until the year 1634, the tulip increased annually in reputation. Soon the middle-class society, merchants, and shopkeepers began to vie which each other in the rarity of these flowers and the extraordinarily high prices that they paid for them. Any particular virtue of this flower is not known, it has neither the beauty nor the perfume of a rose and is not enduring either. However, in 1634 the rage among the Dutch to possess them was so high that the ordinary industry of the country was neglected. In 1635 many people were known to invest 100 000 florins for the purchase of 40 roots. A species called ‘Semper Augustus’ would be paid 5500 florins. The operations of the trade became so extensive and complicated that it was found necessary to draw up a code of laws for the guidance of the dealers. At last, however, the more prudent began to see that this folly could not go on forever. They started a selling movement. The prices fell and never rose again. A universal panic seized upon the dealers and the bubble burst. Many were left ruined. This is the only madness of the crowds that I can not blame. Any passionate collector of things, be they rare or standard or be they tulips, will understand that urge of gathering what he regards as treasures. It seems to be part of human nature. The Alchemists: Dissatisfaction with his fate seems to be the characteristic of all men. Three causes especially have excited the discontent, death, poverty, and ignorance of the future. The first was the reason of many savant men to search for some secret way of avoiding death, and if not, to at least live for several centuries instead of several years. It was the search for the elixir vitae or water of life. The second was the search for the philosopher’s stone, which was to create riches in transforming any metal into gold. The third was the search for means of discovering the future. They were the alchemists, sorcerers, geomancers, and dealers in charms, amulets for all sorts of functions, like philtres of love, fortune telling, healing all maladies and working miracles of all kinds. For more than a thousand years the art of alchemy captivated many noble spirits and was believed in by millions. It was practised by the Chinese two thousand five hundred years BC. Pretenders to the art of making gold and silver flourished in Ancient Rome and Constantinople up to the fourth century and later. Some of the most renowned philosophers are Geber of the year 730, Alfarabi of the 10th century, Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas of 1193, 1244, Alain de Lisle the universal Doctor, Atrophies, Arnold de Villeneuve, Pietro d’Apone, Raymond Lully, Roger Bacon 1214, Pope John XXII, 1244, Jean de Meung, 1279 (Roman de la Rose)Nicholas Flamel,1257 And many more in this chapter, of whom short biographies are developed with many exciting and amusing incidents, adventures and anecdotes, too many to be listed here, but well worth reading. Modern Prophecies: End of the world prophecies seized the Christian World, spread by fanatics, in the middle of the tenth century, preaching that the thousand year cycle prophesized in the Apocalypse, was about to expire. The last judgment was expected to take place in Jerusalem. Large crowds of people from all over Europe sold all their belongings and went the Holy Land where they lived on their proceeds waiting for the end of the world which was near. In the year One thousand the situation grew worse. Every meteor, every thunder was the voice of God. Numbers expected the earth to open and give up the dead for the last judgment day. Fanatic preachers kept up the flame of terror. When nothing happened, it might have taken a year or more for the return home. Ruined and destitute, victims of their madness. Credulity is always greatest in time of disaster and calamity. During the Years 1345 and 1350 During the great plague, it was considered that the end of the world was near. London was hit by great consternation by the prophecy of the famous Whiston, that the world would be destroyed on the 13th of October 1736. In the year 1761 London was alarmed by two shocks of earthquake. The first fell on the 8th of February, the second on the 8th of March, pointing at exactly one month between the two blows. Some madman predicted the end of London in one month time, the 5 the of April. The word spread quickly, and crowds of people left the city to wait for the end of the world in the open fields outside the city. When nothing happened, the prophet named Bell was apprehended and locked up in a madhouse. Other prophecies have been numerous, which were asserted to have been delivered hundreds of years before, with always a most pernicious effect on the mind of the vulgar population. Fortune telling: In this chapter, the author proceeds to consider all the follies into which men have been led in the hope of piercing the thick darkness of the futurity. "God himself for his wise purpose has more than once undrawn the impenetrable veil of which shrouds those awful secrets." We found that the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were the golden ages of the imposters of foretelling the future. The most celebrated astrologers in England, three centuries ago were alchemists, such as Agrippa, Paracelsus, Dr Dee, the Rosicrucian’s, Lilly, Lamb, Brooker, Gadbury. In France and Germany astrologers met even more encouragements. Louis XI., the most superstitious of men and Catherine de Medicis, the most superstitious of women kept great numbers of them at their court. The most celebrated of them was Nostradamus who flourished around 1556. The prophecies of Nostradamus consist of more than thousand stanzas written in obscure language, hardly intelligible and likely to fit any outcome. He is to this day extremely popular in France and some parts of Belgium. Another famous astrologer named Antiochus Tiberius lived in Romagna in the fifteenth century. Other sciences resorted to prying into the future were: Necromancy, Geomancy Augury and Divination, the most enduring of them. It was practised alike by Jews, the Egyptians, the Chaldeans, the Persians, The Greeks and the Romans. Divination is practised to the present day in civilized Europe, chiefly from Cards, coffee cups, and lines of the hand. Among an endless list of other forms. Omens are among the other means of self-annoyance upon which man has stumbled on, and is in use since the darkest ages of the past. Everyone I believe, has his omens in mind and reacts to them instinctively to this very day, myself included. The Magnetisers; The influence of the imagination in the cure of diseases is well known. The mineral magnetizers claim the first notice, as worthy predecessors of today's quacks. Paracelsus was the first to practice the art of healing by magnetism. Messmer of Vienna was another famous practitioner of the art. He arrived in Paris in 1778 and became a fashionable physician throughout every grade of society. His name became a popular expression: to be mesmerized, still in use today. Amusing anecdotes and adventures by the dozen. The Crusades: This is an exciting historical report on all the 8 or 9 crusades. I did not know there had been so many. The first (1096) two crusades were indeed an example of the complete Madness of the Crowds. The poorest of the French and German population was harangued and motivated by the ruthless and fanatic Monk Peter the Hermit endorsed by Pope Urban II. They gathered in vile, lawless and ruthless crowds of several hundred thousand and started up to reach Jerusalem by foot. None of them knew where Jerusalem was nor how far away, they just went to the East, like devouring flocks of locusts, stealing looting and burning everything on the way until the neighbouring countries got organized and killed them as they came. None ever reached the holy land. Later crusades spanning over more than two centuries were of a more military nature organized by French English and German noblemen and their armies. Their intent to conquer and control Jerusalem fighting away the Muslims was obtained with the cost the lives of thousands amid rivers of blood. Europe had spent millions of her treasures and lost two million of her population, and a handful of quarrelsome knights retained possession of Palestine for about one hundred years. I had only read the extraordinary true-life report of "The Conquest of Constantinople" by Vill ehardouin, about the third and fourth crusades, in the twelfth century. And also the remarkable book of “Vie de Saint Louis” by Joinville, one of his faithful knights, who led the crusades to Egypt and Jerusalem in 1248-1254. I appreciate this complement of history to my knowledge. The following chapters: The Witch mania; The slow poisoners; Haunted houses; Popular follies of great cities; Popular admiration of great thieves; Duels and Ordeals; Relics. I leave it to future readers to discover these chapters. Enough is said about the style and excellent quality of this very elaborate, but easy to read, work of Charles Mackey.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Arminius

    This book is quite a riveting book. The name of the book describes exactly what you might expect it to contain. “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” provides a list of history’s ridiculous schemes, fantasies, prophesies witchcraft, faith healers and more. The author then debunks the delusions by citing the proof that was published at the time of the delusion. I will list a few a few of the stories I liked best. The first chapter teaches us about a Scottish character named This book is quite a riveting book. The name of the book describes exactly what you might expect it to contain. “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” provides a list of history’s ridiculous schemes, fantasies, prophesies witchcraft, faith healers and more. The author then debunks the delusions by citing the proof that was published at the time of the delusion. I will list a few a few of the stories I liked best. The first chapter teaches us about a Scottish character named John Law. Mr. Law canvassed European leaders to accept an economic plan to use paper currency as opposed to the metal coinage used at the time. It took him a while but he finally found sympathetic ears in France who was experiencing, at the time, a chaotic economy. Law instituted his scheme and it worked like a charm. The economy recovered (mostly because the King allowed Law to control it). Law kept the currency steady and that revived the French economy. Afterwards, he became well respected financier. With this respect behind him he unlaunched a devious grand plan. He sold paper certificates that proved ownership of a section of the Mississippi River (which was under French control in the 17th Century). He previously told the public that the banks of the river contained diamonds, gold and other precious metals. These paper certificates became so popular that a buying frenzy occurred with people bidding higher and higher to own one. Unfortunately, the truth hit France and the certificates became worthless, causing many to go bankrupt. With this event Mr. Law floundered to just a footnote in history. Another fascinating tale is the work of the 17th and 18th alchemists. The alchemists told of how they discovered the philosopher’s stone which gave them the ability to turn base metals into gold. Many alchemists used this trick to swindle wealthy ignorant citizens and leaders of much of Europe into funding their alchemist trade in hopes of receiving gold in return. One trick of the alchemist was revealed in this book. In order to gain the confidence of the alchemist's patrons the alchemist would have a wand. The Alchemist filled the wand with gold dust and capped it with wax ends. Then he placed the wand into a fire, the wax end melt and presto gold dust appeared. The amazed patrician would respond with a commitment to the alchemist. In all cases cited in the book eventually the alchemist would be exposed of his chicanery and often forced to spree. A third one I found fascinating is the story of the Rosicrucian’s. Again in the 17th Century, a band with certain inhumanly characteristics created a sensation in Germany. They decried that God covered them in a thick cloud which protected them and they possessed the power to cure all maladies. They also possessed all wisdom and never needed to eat or drink. They had six rules of conduct. 1. They should cure all diseases they come across gratuitously. 2. They should dress in conformity to the country to which they were residing. 3. They should meet once a year 4. That every brother should chose a person worthy to succeed him. 5. The words “Rose-cross” should be the marks used to identify each other 6. Their secret should be kept for 26 years They believed that they obtained these rules from a golden book found in the tomb of their creator named Rosencreutz. Interesting enough the Rosicrucian group still exists. However, there is an annual $150 membership fee. Popular haunted houses of the 17 and 18th centuries which caused fear among the masses are discussed and explained. The European witch scare is detailed as well. Would you believe the Crusades were ignited by one person who went by the name of Peter the Hermit? Peter the Hermit stirred the passions of European Christianity into a war, that some historians say, lasted 700 years. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds is an extraordinary tale of some of history’s most intriguing multitude arousals.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lois Bujold

    It's been too long since I've read this, but there's a reason it's been in print since 1841. Among other things, it has a classic account of the Dutch tulip mania, one of the first (but far from the last) market bubbles, and still instructive. 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. Ta, L.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mateo

    Mark Twain once famously characterized a "classic" as "a book that everyone praises and nobody reads," and while there are plenty of classics that absolutely hold up (The Iliad, Moby Dick,, hell, most anything by Twain himself), there are plenty of others that disappoint. I waited years to finally read Don Quixote (first book only), only to find that it was pretty boring. Figured the movie M, starring Peter Lorre, was can't-miss. It missed. Gave up on Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and fin Mark Twain once famously characterized a "classic" as "a book that everyone praises and nobody reads," and while there are plenty of classics that absolutely hold up (The Iliad, Moby Dick,, hell, most anything by Twain himself), there are plenty of others that disappoint. I waited years to finally read Don Quixote (first book only), only to find that it was pretty boring. Figured the movie M, starring Peter Lorre, was can't-miss. It missed. Gave up on Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and finished Augie March only through sheer stubbornness. (I've read the Divine Comedy three times, trying to figure out if I like it or not.) Charles Mackay's Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds is one of those books the sits on the shelves of a lot of smart people, in the section "I'll Get Around to This Someday." Well, if it's on your shelf, take it down and start reading. This book is a classic, and a hell of a read. It ranges all over the place, from alchemy and witch-burning to short-lived popular phrases--if you thought "hella" and "yo" were odd phrases to capture the modern lexicon, try phrases like "Quoz?" and "What a shocking bad hat," which gripped London in the 19th century. Of most interest to the modern reader are most likely the first three chapters, which describe three great historical financial Ponzi schemes: the Mississippi Scheme and the South-Sea Bubble of the 1720s, and the Tulipomania that gripped Holland in the 1630s. It's impossible to read these histories of financial shenanigans and not immediately think of Goldman-Sachs, Bernie Madoff, Enron, AIG, and the rest of the modern bubbles. Plus ça change, indeed. Mackay, a lawyer by trade, was a sly, witty, clever writer with a gift for understatement. (Describing a particularly compelling prediction made by the famous 15th-century astrologer and prognosticator Pandolfo di Malatesta, Mackay ends the astounding tale by observing that "the only thing that detracts from the interest of this remarkable story is the fact that the prophesy was made after the event.") Taking on quacks from Nostradamus to Paracelsus, Mackay displays a shrewdly skeptical eye that stands in stark opposition to the general credulity, especially religious credulity of his age--and ours. Written some 20 years before Charles Darwin would pound yet another huge nail into the coffin of superstition, a coffin that seems to pop open with disturbing frequency, Popular Delusions is a funny, sharp, informative, readable, and valuable book. In short, a classic. (Postscript: According to Wikipedia, economists in the 1980s and '90s challenged much of Mackay's account of the Tulip Mania. Given that these economists are described as "skeptical of speculative bubbles in general," and that these criticisms appeared long before the current economic crisis brought on by the housing and derivative busts, I'm going to go with Mackay on this one.)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    I was surprised and somewhat pleased to see that some business book publishers help keep this amusing work in print. The most memorable portions of it are about financial scams, panics and fads--all crazy.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bookshire Cat

    Neuveritelna sbirka manii, blahovych predstav a projevu davove psychozy, ktere kdy zachvatily (zejmena) Evropu. Podvodne akciove spolecnosti, tulipomanie, alchymiste, hypnotizeri, travici, hony na carodejnice, krizove vypravy... je tam vsechno. Podrobne, peclive, strizlive popsane (poprve vyslo v roce 1841!). Az se me zase nekdo zepta, proc se bojim davu, odkazu ho sem. A kdyby mel nekdo chut se nad ctenim vsech tech blaznivin, co byli lidi schopni provadet a jimz byli schopni verit, shovivave p Neuveritelna sbirka manii, blahovych predstav a projevu davove psychozy, ktere kdy zachvatily (zejmena) Evropu. Podvodne akciove spolecnosti, tulipomanie, alchymiste, hypnotizeri, travici, hony na carodejnice, krizove vypravy... je tam vsechno. Podrobne, peclive, strizlive popsane (poprve vyslo v roce 1841!). Az se me zase nekdo zepta, proc se bojim davu, odkazu ho sem. A kdyby mel nekdo chut se nad ctenim vsech tech blaznivin, co byli lidi schopni provadet a jimz byli schopni verit, shovivave pousmat, zamrzne mu usmev vcelku rychle - staci si predstavit, jak by kniha vypadala, kdyby autor popisoval 20. a 21. stoleti. Nepoucili jsme se. Ani. Trochu.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bernardo Kaiser

    I guess the low rating is my fault, this book is written in a very victorian styles and it feels more like a reference book than one that you actually opens to read it from beginning to end. Anyway, lost interest after the 78th description of some renaissance alchemist

  10. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    the remarkable story of John Law and the Mississippi Scheme is told in the language and cadence of a cautionary tale like "the Emperor's New Clothes" South Sea Bubble Tulipmania

  11. 4 out of 5

    Enkhtur

    The book was first published in 1841, but all the recent bubbles (Japanese real estate, dot-com, us housing bubbles) shares similarity with the older events . Plus ça change; history repeats itself because human nature doesn't change. When physicist Isaac Newton lost some fortune in his investment in the South Sea Company, he said "I can calculate the motions of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people" and warned others not mention the name "South Sea" ever again in his presence. Most bub The book was first published in 1841, but all the recent bubbles (Japanese real estate, dot-com, us housing bubbles) shares similarity with the older events . Plus ça change; history repeats itself because human nature doesn't change. When physicist Isaac Newton lost some fortune in his investment in the South Sea Company, he said "I can calculate the motions of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people" and warned others not mention the name "South Sea" ever again in his presence. Most bubbles are created when a certain positive shock occurs (sudden events leading to a shortage of supply of certain assets, excess liquidity, deregulations, frauds that lead false positive confidence in certain assets etc). It is followed by mass frenzy (investment, buying of certain asset like tulips, real estate, stocks etc) and expansion of credits (to fund speculators to buy assets, and creditors take those assets as collateral even when the debtor can't even pay the interest on the rational that asset price would continue to increase). Optimistic market participants knowingly buy assets at much higher price that it is justified to be in hope to sell those assets at even higher price to greater fools. All this delusion ends when price reaches high enough so that no one can afford it (therefore, no greater fool to buy the asset at higher price can be found to speculators) or because of other economic shocks. Then naturally mass bankruptcies and economic recessions follow. "Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one." Would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in psychology, crowd behaviour, financial markets and history. Would also recommend Kindleberger's book "Mania, Panics, Crashes: A History of Financial Crises" that examines financial crisis and bubbles starting from 17th century tulip mania to more recent 20th-century events.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Александр Шушпанов

    Одна из самых тяжело идущих в этом году моих настольных книг. "Настольный" - не в том смысле, что со стола не уходит, а в том смысле, что у меня есть стопочка "прочитать в первую очередь". Довольно любопытный труд на первый взгляд, но если начать разбираться - то выходит вот что. Понятно, что заблуждения, bias'ы, модные течения, меметика - всё это не вчера родилось и сотрясает род людской, наверное, с момента объединения его в компактные сельские и городские структуры, где бред может индуцировать Одна из самых тяжело идущих в этом году моих настольных книг. "Настольный" - не в том смысле, что со стола не уходит, а в том смысле, что у меня есть стопочка "прочитать в первую очередь". Довольно любопытный труд на первый взгляд, но если начать разбираться - то выходит вот что. Понятно, что заблуждения, bias'ы, модные течения, меметика - всё это не вчера родилось и сотрясает род людской, наверное, с момента объединения его в компактные сельские и городские структуры, где бред может индуцировать слухи из конца в конец за кратчайшие сроки, сплетня охватывает всю формацию моментально, и все стремятся "не отставать от Джонсов". Сейчас это всё точно так же присуще нам, современникам - мы стали чуть менее доверчивыми, но лишь чуточку. Интересно другое - автор сам по себе изрядно заблуждается чуть ли не в каждом разделе книги, и от того, что критике в примечаниях переводчика подвергся лишь раздел о крестовых походах, не означает, что раздел о финансовых пузырях, скажем, написан исторически достоверно. Но всё повторяется, совершенно верно - в наши дни знамя "очеркиста по слухам" уверенно подхватил Акунин, например - и уже навалял четыре тома из обещанных десяти. Забавно, что ошибки, допущенные автором, настолько уверенно подхвачены культурой, что принимаются за чистую истину, а породивший их автор выступает как бесспорный источник - это вновь и вновь возвращает к диалогу о том, какая "реальность" более "реальна" - которая состоялась, или которую описывали очевидцы. Но это совсем-совсем другая история и отдельный разговор. Интересно, почему автор не рассмотрел своих современников?

  13. 4 out of 5

    Marc Lucke

    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 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, but I found the first section on Paris to be excessively detailed and frankly tedious. While the book is a must-read for anyone who wants to see maxims about the value of historical knowledge played out, the actual reading of it might be a bit of a chore.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Alisi ☆ wants to read too many books ☆

    I only read the chapter on witches. Sam Harris wrote an intro to that and published it as its own little book. I didn't know what until I started the book, though. I kind of wish I'd read the whole thing. Anyway, it was fascinating to read this. The author did a great job with it. The cases are rather horrifying and I thought it was interesting that the author wrote on the subject. This seems to be one of those things that the Church is determined to forget so you never really see much on the su I only read the chapter on witches. Sam Harris wrote an intro to that and published it as its own little book. I didn't know what until I started the book, though. I kind of wish I'd read the whole thing. Anyway, it was fascinating to read this. The author did a great job with it. The cases are rather horrifying and I thought it was interesting that the author wrote on the subject. This seems to be one of those things that the Church is determined to forget so you never really see much on the subject before the modern era. I did have one question; in the intro, Harris says there's some humor to be found here. Where is this humor? Nothing was funny. It was all horrifying. It really makes me question what Harris finds funny in general. T.T

  15. 5 out of 5

    Al Maki

    Today, July 29, 2014, Amazon has a market capitalization of $147,380,000,000 and a price/earnings ratio of 569. That is, people have one hundred forty seven billion dollars invested in Amazon and at the present rate will earn back their money in 569 years. This book is an excellent place to start if you want to understand how this could come about. There are excellent books on the financial aspecst or history of such phenomena, Galbraith or John Cassidy for example. But at bottom this is not a f Today, July 29, 2014, Amazon has a market capitalization of $147,380,000,000 and a price/earnings ratio of 569. That is, people have one hundred forty seven billion dollars invested in Amazon and at the present rate will earn back their money in 569 years. This book is an excellent place to start if you want to understand how this could come about. There are excellent books on the financial aspecst or history of such phenomena, Galbraith or John Cassidy for example. But at bottom this is not a financial phenomenon, but one of mob psychology.

  16. 4 out of 5

    S

    The core ideas is great, but the presentation is very tedious. It is extremely repetitive in the examples it enumerates. You are better off reading a summary of the different categories that the author covers (e.g. financial bubbles, witch hunts, alchemy)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Reading this book written over 150 years ago majes you realize how little people have changed over the course of history, right up to today. The chapter dealing with trendy phrases was particularily illustrative of this.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Will Craighead

    lIfe changing

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Frankel

    Why read a book originally published in 1841 about the delusions and madness of times long gone? I think the author makes a strong case early in the work: "Let us not, in the pride of our superior knowledge, turn with contempt from the follies of our predecessors. The study of errors into which great minds have fallen in the pursuit of truth can never be uninstructive. As the man looks back to the days of his childhood and youth, and recalls to his mind the strange notions and false opinions tha Why read a book originally published in 1841 about the delusions and madness of times long gone? I think the author makes a strong case early in the work: "Let us not, in the pride of our superior knowledge, turn with contempt from the follies of our predecessors. The study of errors into which great minds have fallen in the pursuit of truth can never be uninstructive. As the man looks back to the days of his childhood and youth, and recalls to his mind the strange notions and false opinions that swayed his actions at the time, that he may wonder at them; so should society, for its edification, look back to the opinions of the ages fled. He is but a superficial thinker who would despise and refuse to hear of them merely because they are absurd. No man is so wise but that he may learn some wisdom of his past errors, either of thought or action; and no society has made such advances as to be capable of no improvement from the retrospect of its past folly and credulity. And not only is such a study instructive: he who reads for amusement only will find no chapter in the annals of the human mind more amusing than this. It opens out the whole range of fiction - the wild, the fantastic, and the wonderful, and all the immense variety of things that are not and cannot be; but have been imagined and believed." The book is broken up into 16 topics, ranging from short 10 page summaries to more thorough 60 page histories. Though the older English (or maybe the translation?) is a bit tricky to get into at times, well worth the effort. My favorite sections were 'The Crusades', 'The Witch Mania', 'Duels and Ordeals', and 'The Slow Poisoners'. 'The Tulipomania' and 'Relics' were short sections that I found very interesting. I knew a bit about witch mania and the crusades, but the detail the author went into to describe the follies that caused the suffering and deaths of so many people is truly astounding. Worth the read for these two chapters alone. So much folly that I don't think any description I could give would even scratch the surface. The section on duels was also enlightening, I had no idea how prevalent they were and how governments and royalty tried in vain for so long to put a stop to the practice. It was looked at as so cowardly to refuse a duel, that many people would rather risk death (and often die) then have society turn its back on you for refusing. We're talking thousands upon thousands a year for a long time. I also thought 'trial by combat' was something from the fictional world of Game of Thrones, but there was a time in which it was lawful (and often required) to prove guilt or innocence by a fight to the death. Ecclesiastics were allowed to produce champions to fight for them. I skipped 2 sections, 'The Alchymists', which I was looking forward to but was so poorly written I didn't muddle through it. Also skipped the section on 'The South-Sea Bubble' as it seemed similar to the other investment fever 'The Mississippi Scheme'.

  20. 5 out of 5

    N H

    فصل دوم و سومش اصلا برام جذاب نیست. یادم باشه قبل از خریدن کتاب به جز خوندن چند خط توضیحات پشت جلدش بیشتر درباره ش تحقیق کنم!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mohammad Ali Abedi

    "Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one." 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 "Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one." 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 hair and beard (influence of politics and religion on), murder through poisoning, haunted houses, popular follies of great cities, popular admiration of great thieves, duels, and relics". But basically, the book could also be summarized by this, people are stupid. "There is scarcely an occurrence in nature which, happening at a certain time, is not looked upon by some persons as a prognosticator either of good or evil. The latter are in the greatest number, so much more ingenious are we in tormenting ourselves than in discovering reasons for enjoyment in the things that surround us." And they are. Always have been and always will be. The book, while written more than 150 years ago, is not only about follies of people from his age, but also from centuries past. And you read it, and you think, this is still happening. People rushing and investing their life savings in economic bubbles and then losing everything exists in today's world too, and every bubble, the people think they are different, and every time they lose money, they think the situation was unique. What's worse than losing all your money in the bubble than knowing that not only did you lose your money but you also repeated the same mistakes done by people centuries back? "In many of the bloody wars which defile the page of history, we find that soldiers, utterly reckless of the works of God, will destroy his masterpiece, man, with unsparing brutality, but linger with respect around the beautiful works of art. They will slaughter women and children, but spare a picture; will hew down the sick, the helpless, and the hoary-headed, but refrain from injuring a fine piece of sculpture." I guess, that's the most tragic thing about us today. Not that we are stupid, but that our stupidity is basic, normal, expected, and routine. You read this book and you realize how comfortably our modern people fit in it, and you think that, there is nothing important about our time, nothing enlightened about it. In the future, deep thinkers will not consider us separate form ages past. Mankind has not made any real intellectual jump forward. "How flattering to the pride of man to think that the stars in their courses watch over him, and typify, by their movements and aspects, the joys or the sorrows that await him! He, less in proportion to the universe than the all but invisible insects that feed in myriads on a summer's leaf, are to this great globe itself, fondly imagines that eternal worlds were chiefly created to prognosticate his fate. How we should pity the arrogance of the worm that crawls at our feet, if we knew that it also desired to know the secrets of futurity, and imagined that meteors shot athwart the sky to warn it that a tom-tit was hovering near to gobble it up; that storms and earthquakes, the revolutions of empires, or the fall of mighty monarchs, only happened to, predict its birth, its progress, and its decay! Not a whit less presuming has man shown himself; not a whit less arrogant are the sciences, so called, of astrology, augury, necromancy, geomancy, palmistry, and divination of every kind." A final note. I enjoyed the part about popular slangs of the day. If you are ever looking to bring back 19th century slang, you can use "Quoz!" (can be used as a reply to anything), "Walker!", "There he goes with his eye out!", "Flare up!", "Has your mother sold her mangle?", and so on, but my favorite is, "What a shocking bad hat!" Once it is in vogue, you just yell that to a newcomer and everyone laughs.

  22. 5 out of 5

    M. Milner

    A charmingly dated look at frauds, hoaxsters and other chicanery, Charles Mackay's classic Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds, is an interesting, facinating read. Originally written in the mid-19th century, Mackay was a Scottish writer who dabbled in poetry, journalism and even songs, but is primarily remembered these days for this massive look at the ways people get sucked into scams and hoaxes. His book covers a wide range of these, from money bubbles to witchcraft tri A charmingly dated look at frauds, hoaxsters and other chicanery, Charles Mackay's classic Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds, is an interesting, facinating read. Originally written in the mid-19th century, Mackay was a Scottish writer who dabbled in poetry, journalism and even songs, but is primarily remembered these days for this massive look at the ways people get sucked into scams and hoaxes. His book covers a wide range of these, from money bubbles to witchcraft trials to even more casual scams: wood taken from Shakespeare's desk or relics of popular saints. Indeed, his stuff about money bubbles is what draws readers to this book: it's gotten accolades from people like Michael Lewis and Will Self; on the cover, Andrew Tobias says the first 100 pages are "worth many times it's purchase." It's not hard to see why: there are three contrasting stories about economic bubbles which rose quickly, made a few people wealthy and popped, leaving a lot of people without money. His story about the Tulip Mania in Holland is already well-known, but his chapters on the Mississippi Company and South Sea Company are worth reading. The schemes, where people keep building and lending on credit, thinking the money will keep pouring in and in, have ominous echoes for anyone who thinks about Silicon Valley and the subprime lending crisis. That said, the rest of the book is wild, entertaining and occasionally shocking. A lengthy section of alchemists is like a shadow history of the rise of scammers in Europe: people who'd leech off of rich nobles who thought pewter could turn into gold. Likewise, the stuff on the assorted quacks and fraudsters engaged in what we'd now call New Age-adjacent stuff shows people haven't really wisened up in almost 200 years (or perhaps that money talks). Meanwhile, his section on the witch trials in Europe is shocking: his stories of grotesque torture, people being thrown into lakes to drown or burned alive at the stake are horrific. Thousands of people died because of superstition, maybe, but he acutely points out the often political or personal reasons behind such killings: it was almost impossible to defend from a charge like this and some people made a living at going from town to town, calling people a witch and killing them - usually with the state's approval. The book isn't all doom and gloom, however. Mackay has a dry, dark sense of humour which often finds it's way into even the darkest of it's passages. For example, take this section on a witch trial, where an old woman was accused of giving a priest headaches through dark magic: "One poor witch, who lay in the very jaws of death, confessed she knew too well the cause of the minister's headache. The devil had sent her with a sledgehammer and a large nail to drive into the good man's skull. She had hammered at it for some time, but the skull was so enormously thick, that she made no impression upon it. Every hand was held up in astonishment. The pious minister blessed God that his skull was so solid, and became renowned for his thick head all the days of his life." There are other nuggets, like when Sir Walter Raleigh was challenged to a duel and spat upon: "if I could as easily wipe from my conscience the stain of killing you, as I can this spittle from my face, you should not live another minute." Ice cold. Although I'm not sure everyone would like this book as much as I did - and to be fair, I did skim it here and there because it's awful dry in places - but I think those who would like it will like it a lot.

  23. 5 out of 5

    blake

    Magnum opus on historical fantasies in three volumes. There's no part of this I didn't like. Every book in every volume (my Gutenberg PDF has the bulk of the book in part one, followed by three more books devoted to alchemists, fortune tellers and magnetisers) is full of interesting historical stories of varying degrees of import. It was good after hearing about tulips for so many years to finally read a detailed report, and to learn about parallels in England, France, and so on. But I also liked Magnum opus on historical fantasies in three volumes. There's no part of this I didn't like. Every book in every volume (my Gutenberg PDF has the bulk of the book in part one, followed by three more books devoted to alchemists, fortune tellers and magnetisers) is full of interesting historical stories of varying degrees of import. It was good after hearing about tulips for so many years to finally read a detailed report, and to learn about parallels in England, France, and so on. But I also liked the little stories, like the mobs who disrupted an English theater in protest of a nominal price hike. And if you ever wondered whether or not people used to repeat stupid catch phrases prior to TV, Mackay helpfully (and disdainfully) catalogues a few recent (to him) phrases that caught fire among the rabble. ("What a shocking bad hat!") It's a good reminder that as awful and crazy as the world seems to be today, it has ever been thus. Instead of housing bubbles, we had tulip bubbles. Instead of trying to turn sunlight into power, we had people trying to turn lead into gold. Instead of Internet flame wars, dueling was the madness. Our major advance, I suppose, would be that we don't generally kill people. We might cost a lot of people their livelihoods in our pursuit of social status, but we don't actually stab or shoot them in duels. So we've got that going for us. Which is nice. I do think Mackay falls short where skeptics always fall short, which is believing that skepticism is a somehow more logical (or workable) viewpoint than being trusting. That is, taking the viewpoint that something isn't true isn't any more virtuous than taking the viewpoint that it is. It's easy enough to dismiss the magnetisers for their quackery, for example, but one reason they were so successful is that they resolved issues conventional medicine could not. It also allows one to ignore the quackery in conventional medicine. We can all see the flaws of medicine 175 years ago, but we're inclined to believe modern medicine has things all nailed down. Note that Mackay himself fell for a popular delusion in his own time—the Railway mania—which perhaps suggests, above all, that a little humility is almost always in order.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Roberta

    Slow and steady wins the race. This is one of those reference books that you could open once in a while, when in the mood for a bit of amusing-history-of-humanity, and then put it back on the stand and let it simmer. 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 Slow and steady wins the race. This is one of those reference books that you could open once in a while, when in the mood for a bit of amusing-history-of-humanity, and then put it back on the stand and let it simmer. 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 Contract are thing of the past and yes, those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. We're talking tulips here people, tulips! Half of Europe went crazy for flowers not yet sprung. 2) Magnetizers: it's not just about Mesmer, the idea really stuck and the placebo effect has been doing miracles ever since. 3) Prophets of doom never get it right (no complaints here) 4) Fortune tellers are scammer (why do they still exist in the year 2014?) 5) Facial hairs has been matter of incarceration, fines and social stigma, depending on the king ruling at the time. The only chapter so far that took a toll on me is the one about alchemists.Too many, too similar, I longed for it to end. Today is July 17, 2014. I'll take a break now and move to some other, lighter reading. But I want to see what comes next in Mackay pages. ----- Today is December 26, 2014, and I'm ready to review the second part 1) Crusades: religion makes people crazy 2) Witch mania: idem 3) The slow poisoners: divorce is a great thing, especially if you are a not-so-good husband and your wife would like you out of her life. 4) Haunted houses: caveat emptor 5) Popular follies of great cities: swagger?!? did I just read the word swagger as related to the slang of London in the 1800s? 6) Popular admiration of great thieves: a little boring, if you want to read about handsome banditti there are other options 7) Duels and ordeals: aka Darwin Awards 8) Relics: see number 1 Overall I'm glad I read it, even if seemed interminable. Human beings are as much stupid as creative, but I'm still amazed by the fact we're not extinct. Yet.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Koen Crolla

    Charles Mackay catalogues some of the irrational fads that have gripped mankind over the years, in an effort to demonstrate that today's bullshit is neither unique nor new. Of course, his ``today'' was 1841, so his grasp on history isn't particularly reliable—which is made more painful by the completely unnecessary level of detail of his accounts—and he isn't necessarily as good at identifying irrationality as might be hoped (at one point calling belief in the afterlife ``the greatest triumph of Charles Mackay catalogues some of the irrational fads that have gripped mankind over the years, in an effort to demonstrate that today's bullshit is neither unique nor new. Of course, his ``today'' was 1841, so his grasp on history isn't particularly reliable—which is made more painful by the completely unnecessary level of detail of his accounts—and he isn't necessarily as good at identifying irrationality as might be hoped (at one point calling belief in the afterlife ``the greatest triumph of our reason'' and describing homosexuality in terms an Alabaman fourteen-year-old would find petty and uncalled-for), but it's a valiant effort which has, for the most part, aged well. The quality of 19th-century historiography means the chapter on the Crusades is probably best skipped entirely, and the particulars if not the general thrust of his chapter on the witch trials are questionable, but that's forgiveable. His chapter on ``popular follies of great cities'', on the other hand, is just a rant about the slang young people use, which is not; if ``quoz'' or ``flare-up'' or ``yolo'' bother you to the extent that you feel compelled to whine about it at length, the problem is you, not ``kids these days'', and definitely not irrationality in general. The other chapters, though, are largely fine. The speculative financial bubbles with which he opens (Mississippi, South-Sea, and Dutch tulips) are presumably the reason the book was reprinted when it was, but prophets, fortune telling, and pseudo-scientific medicine (even the exact type he describes: healing magnetism) are all still depressingly relevant as well. I don't, personally, find great solace in knowing that, on the one hand, people have always been idiots, and, on the other, they're still the same kind of idiots they've always been, but I suppose knowing that there have always (or, if not always, at least since the dawn of civilisation in 1830) been skeptics willing to call them out is kind of nice.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Daveski

    This was probably the best book I've ever read, and I'm not exaggerating. It's informative, entertaining (and often hilarious), and provides insight into human nature that is just as meaningful and relevant today as it was in 1842. Despite the wide range of topics, the title describes the central theme perfectly, and MacKay describes ways that civilization has constantly been plagued with crazes and manias, and how these delusions still effect people in modern times. He covers a wide range of top This was probably the best book I've ever read, and I'm not exaggerating. It's informative, entertaining (and often hilarious), and provides insight into human nature that is just as meaningful and relevant today as it was in 1842. Despite the wide range of topics, the title describes the central theme perfectly, and MacKay describes ways that civilization has constantly been plagued with crazes and manias, and how these delusions still effect people in modern times. He covers a wide range of topics, from financial bubbles to the Crusades to the influence of politics and religion on one's facial hair. In every chapter he covers a different mania, and provides numerous examples from throughout history. He is a wonderful storyteller, and although he does occasionally go a bit overboard with the anecdotes (especially in the chapter about dueling), I can hardly complain about being deluged with stories of such high quality. Some of the chapters cover manias that have more or less completely subsided, like the search for the Philosopher's Stone or the Crusades of the middle ages, but are no less interesting for it. Although those particular manias may be gone, the elements of human nature that created them in the first place persevere. This book should be required reading for everyone. From what I understand, the first several chapters that deal with financial crazes are often assigned to economics students, but there is not a single person living today who would not benefit from the wisdom and insight that this book provides. We like to think that we are wiser and more civilized than our ancestors, but MacKay shows that the march of civilization is a slow and difficult battle against the forces of superstition and the madness of crowds.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    Must say that I was a little disappointed with this book. I thought that it be more about an analysis of the madness of crowds however it was more about telling the history behind the events. 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 Must say that I was a little disappointed with this book. I thought that it be more about an analysis of the madness of crowds however it was more about telling the history behind the events. 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 them for a while. I felt that it was quite a good summary of the all the crusades and the reason why so many Europeans travelled and died there all basically for no gain. The book contains other popular delusions that may be of interest to other people but really only the chapter on the crusades really grabbed me and this was probably because I was already interested in the topic. Unfortunately, I can't say that I really enjoyed the book but recommend it people who may have a particular interest in a specific event. However, if you are expecting a psycological analysis of what drove these events then sadly you need to look elsewhere.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Young

    written in the 1840s in england, 'popular delusions' traces mass insanity through first 1800 years of the common era in europe. crazy, widespread belief in an elixer for eternal life, a powder for the transmutation of base metals into precious ones, the foul actions of witches to blame for every malady or misfortune. as recently as the 18th century, real judges have condemned real people to burn in real fire for imaginary crimes such as 'menacing a neighbor while in the form of a cat," or "meeti written in the 1840s in england, 'popular delusions' traces mass insanity through first 1800 years of the common era in europe. crazy, widespread belief in an elixer for eternal life, a powder for the transmutation of base metals into precious ones, the foul actions of witches to blame for every malady or misfortune. as recently as the 18th century, real judges have condemned real people to burn in real fire for imaginary crimes such as 'menacing a neighbor while in the form of a cat," or "meeting with the devil at night to plot the death of the mayor." children as young as five were executed on flimsy evidence or confessions brought forth through torture. mackay also tells us about mania for slang, dueling, tulips, holy crusades, beards, haunted houses, and even a period of time when poisoning your husband was all the fashion. we get no explanations but it is insight and comfort enough to know that mankind has always been as nutso as he is today.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ben Sutter

    This book is really just a collection of notes and stories with varying levels of substantiation. Like most, I was first drawn this book because of its classic first three chapters on market speculation. These are particularly interesting, but address material well covered elsewhere (Tulipmania, South Sea Bubble, Mississippi Scheme). Pushing on through the extended section on Alchemy was particularly challenging for me - as I read about schooled intelligent minds of the past wasting their lives This book is really just a collection of notes and stories with varying levels of substantiation. Like most, I was first drawn this book because of its classic first three chapters on market speculation. These are particularly interesting, but address material well covered elsewhere (Tulipmania, South Sea Bubble, Mississippi Scheme). Pushing on through the extended section on Alchemy was particularly challenging for me - as I read about schooled intelligent minds of the past wasting their lives trying to turn iron into gold, dirt into gold and even human shit into gold, I began to draw parallels with the modern day money management industry where the quest to beat the market has become the new holy grail. Chapters on the crusades and others I found very interesting and readable. Whilst the book is a bit of a slog, there are some great ideas in it, and certainly some fantastic anecdotes.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michael Miller

    Every age has its peculiar folly; some scheme, project, or fantasy into which it plunges spurred on either by the love of gain, the necessity of excitement, or the mere force of imitation. So says Charles Mackay in this 1841 classic. Its as timely a topic as ever, and the examples he gives sound strangely familiar - people haven't changed. From get rich quick schemes to alchemy to fortune-telling to medical quackery to witch hunts, Mackay catalogs in encyclopedic fashion the great delusions peop Every age has its peculiar folly; some scheme, project, or fantasy into which it plunges spurred on either by the love of gain, the necessity of excitement, or the mere force of imitation. So says Charles Mackay in this 1841 classic. Its as timely a topic as ever, and the examples he gives sound strangely familiar - people haven't changed. From get rich quick schemes to alchemy to fortune-telling to medical quackery to witch hunts, Mackay catalogs in encyclopedic fashion the great delusions people have long fallen prey to. Most are driven by greed, either to acquire more wealth or to find ways to protect it from others or from circumstance. With our modern media technology, the delusions seem to have more power over the masses than ever. Can I interest you in a ponzi scheme or some wearable magnets that will cure whatever ails you?

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