October 04, 2008

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds



Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, originally published in 1841, is a landmark study of crowd psychology and mass mania, and a singular casebook of human folly throughout the ages. Chronicled here are accounts of swindles, schemes, and scams on a grand scale.

Charles Mackay's account of the three infamous financial manias - John Law's Mississipi Scheme, the South Sea Bubble, and Tulipomania.Between the three of them, these historic episodes confirm that greed and fear have always been the driving forces of financial markets, and, furthermore, that being sensible and clever is no defence against the mesmeric allure of a popular craze with the wind behind it.In writing the history of the great financial manias, Charles Mackay proved himself a master chronicler of social as well as financial history. Blessed with a cast of characters that covered all the vices, gifted a passage of events which was inevitably heading for disaster, and with the benefit of hindsight, he produced a record that is at once a riveting thriller and absorbing historical document. A century and a half later, it is as vibrant and lurid as the day it was written.For modern-day investors, still reeling from the dotcom crash, the moral of the popular manias scarcely needs spelling out. When the next stock market bubble comes along, as it surely will, you are advised to recall the plight of some of the unfortunates on these pages, and avoid getting dragged under the wheels of the careering bandwagon yourself.

After browsing through Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, the reader may become convinced that human greed, folly, and madness-if not the essence of human history-are at least destined to repeat themselves. The book remains as fascinating and compelling today as was when it was written in the nineteenth century
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