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Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds Paperback – Jul 25 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; New edition edition (July 25 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 051788433X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517884331
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 3.4 x 22.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 748 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #197,424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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First Sentence
The personal character and career of one man are so intimately connected with the great scheme of the years 1719 and 1720, that a history of the Mississippi madness can have no fitter introduction than a sketch of the life of its great author John Law. Read the first page
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. Henkels on Feb. 17 2004
Format: Paperback
Some fine reviews here, but my main point is how relevent this amazing book is even after 16-plus years! It's so well-written and current (up to the 1840's anyway), you could almost think it was written today! The tulip hysteria in 1640's Holland is so famous some recent novels have been written about it! But the 2 best parts are the Crusades, and the Witchhunting sections, both religious-based mass hysteria. In the author's introduction ,he states that religious hysteria and delusions are so numerous he can barely scratch the surface! And think what's happened since 1842! The book is a bit dense at times, but you'll be amazed at the mass delusions described, sometimes resulting in mass slaughter, notably in the "Crusades" chapter. But this book should be familiar to every educated person, and will always be a classic!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Sullivan TOP 100 REVIEWER on June 24 2009
Format: Hardcover
The financial manias discussed in the book, are the areas most often referred too. The South Sea Bubble, The Mississippi Bubble, and the Tulip Mania, are financial episodes that many people study. However, MacKay also discusses other silly episodes in human history. The entire reason MacKay wrote the book, was to help people identify the madness of crowds. The mass movements of stupidity, seem to be a part of the human experience. MacKay is trying to warn the reader, about how not to get swept up in all the excitement. There always seems to be some sort of silly mania that is occurring in our lives. They also tend to vary in size and degree. In the late 1960s, people talked about the return of the Ice Age. In the 1970s people assumed the world was going to run out of food and oil. In the 1980s acid rain was the big trend. Today of course, the Global Warming movement has become one of the biggest manias of all time. Charles MacKay would be adding a chapter on Global Warming, to his timeless book, if he were still alive.
This book is a very slow read. The financial mania stories are worth owning. The other chapters you may want to just chop off one at time at the library, and spread it out over many visits.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Burger on Dec 28 2003
Format: Paperback
I bought this book primarily for the chapters on financial delusions, the first 120 or so pages of 740 page book. The finacial manias are well covered, and provided very valuable historical information for anyone who owns any investmensts of any kind. The themes behind these delusions are very interesting, and you can see these problems repeating today.
The rest of the book provides some very good historical information about various other manias. It was interesting, and I read most of the other chapters which were very interesting, but it is a 740 page book and I found myself skipping over portions of some of the later chapters.
I really liked that this book was written over 160 years ago. It focused on parts of world history I did not know enough about and I am glad I own this now.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Armstrong on Nov. 24 2003
Format: Hardcover
While this book is somewhat difficult reading, being written in Dickensian Olde English (and you certainly don't have to read all of it to get the point) it should be required reading for every college student. Enron employees, who sunk their entire life savings' into one stock, would've also benefited from a thorough reading of this. Luckily, if you're young and you haven't read this yet, you don't have to join the ranks of the 401k-less ninnies who bought into all the hype of the late nineties.
If you are like most of us, you probably had a cube-mate who fashioned him/herself as a "Wall Street wizard" at some point in 1998; you probably had a good laugh as you watched an E*Trade commercial from around that era where the TV-addled couch potato chooses his stock picks based on what's being marketed to him on TV. Personally, I recall one example where a co-worker invested the entire contents of his children's college fund on a single stock purchase, bragging about his profits from said transaction to everyone! Never mind the fact that he could have very well left Johnny and Jenny putting themselves through the local community college and living at home; this was 1998, after all - the "New Economy" was going to transcend all of the limits that 'unprogressive' thinkers had ascribed to all earlier versions of the economy. The question is: are you going to believe the mucky-muck hack/establishment economist at _Barron's_, or learn lessons from history? This book is for those who prefer the latter.
This book is really a classic in critical thinking. Having read this around age 19, I couldn't help but think that the "New Economy" was mostly a bunch of balderdash and that nothing can permanently transcend fundamental economic principles. In fact, the .
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By RV on April 26 2004
Format: Paperback
I read a lot of history books and I am a big fan of books dealing with the history of science and economics. Yet, I could not bring myself to finish this gargantuan book. Before you buy this book be aware that it was written in 1841, and in my opinion it did not age very well. If you are a casual reader of history books, this book is probably not for you.
Of the book's 740 pages, the first 100 or so deal with economic bubbles - these initial chapters are relatively engaging and easy to read. In comparison, the following 150 page are simply a LIST of famous alchemists, with a few brief anecdotes about each one. The other subjects covered later on, prophecies, fortunes telling etc. suffer from the same problem. The book contains no analysis, it merely offers a collection of anecdotes, some amusing some not.
The book is written in archaic language, with Latin and French phrases interspersed throughout it. Occasionally, entire Latin paragraphs are used with no English translation. I read a lot, and this is the first book in many years that I was not able to finish.
There is one positive thing I can say about this book: it is a fascinating example of 19th century writing. The approach to the subject matter, the narrative tone and the language used were very instructive and interesting for me. Nevertheless, I was only able to make it to page 323 before giving up. For the casual reader I would suggest more modern books on the topics covered. For example: Tulipomania by Mike Dash is a great book about the Tulip trade Bubble of 1636.
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