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183 of 190 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Truly a classic!
If you're into investing, sooner or later an investment columnist will mention Extraordinary Delusions as required reading. It's that and more...
Charles Mackay first details France's Mississippi Scheme & England's South Sea Bubble (from the early 1700's). Then he covers the famous Dutch "tulipomania" of the 1600's. These are all enjoyable reports of...
Published on August 16, 1999

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471 of 497 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Severely abridged edition
Be aware that the edition published by Harriman House ONLY contains the chapters relating to economics, so you only get probably 1/7 of the original book...
Published on December 15, 2004 by nothingt5


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471 of 497 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Severely abridged edition, December 15, 2004
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Be aware that the edition published by Harriman House ONLY contains the chapters relating to economics, so you only get probably 1/7 of the original book...
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183 of 190 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Truly a classic!, August 16, 1999
By A Customer
If you're into investing, sooner or later an investment columnist will mention Extraordinary Delusions as required reading. It's that and more...
Charles Mackay first details France's Mississippi Scheme & England's South Sea Bubble (from the early 1700's). Then he covers the famous Dutch "tulipomania" of the 1600's. These are all enjoyable reports of financial manias and their aftermaths (though the South Sea Bubble chapter dragged on a bit). But the financial reader will be surprised when she realizes she's still only 100 pages into a 700 page book! Mackay proceeds to cover:
Alchemy - 150 pages of exhaustive (& exhausting) detail of hobbyists & serious investors who were convinced they could turn base metals into gold, if only they could find the right ancient recipe & stoke their workshop cauldrons just a little bit hotter.
The Crusades - 100 pages that prove that modern Islamic fundamentalists did not invent the idea of a "holy war". I had no idea the Crusades came out of official harassment of Y1K religious pilgrims! Remember this: If your country is being inundated with religious pilgrims, just try to think of them as a tourist opportunity. You don't want to get them angry!
The Witch Mania - 100pp. This section was unexpectedly chilling. As I read about European witch trials of the 1400s-1600s, I kept thinking of our recent satanic child abuse trials. It's all been done before: The wild unprovable accusations, including eating dead babies; trusting unreliable witnesses specifically BECAUSE of the severity of the charges; False Memory Syndrome. At least the rack & Trial by Ordeal are no longer recognized as valid forensic techniques.
The Slow Poisoners - Murder isn't really murder if you poison the victim slowly enough, is it?
Also covered: Animal Magnetism, Prophecies, Fortune-Telling, Hair & beard fashions in men, catch phrases & slang, Relics, Duels & Ordeals, Haunted Houses, & Popular Admiration of Great Thieves.
At times the book dragged, especially in the chapters I wasn't interested in. (But hey, that's what skimming is for.) So with that caveat, go ahead & get the book. It'll be a great investment of 12 bucks!
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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important, engaging, shrewd historical treatise., April 7, 2000
Charles Mackay's highly recommended Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness Of Crowds was first published in 1841 and studies the psychology of crowds and mass mania throughout history. Mackay included accounts of classic scams, grand-scale madness, and deceptions. Some of these include the Mississippi scheme that swept France in 1720, the South Sea bubble that ruined thousands in England at the same time, and the tulip mania of Holland when fortunes were made and lost on single tulip bulbs. Other chapters deal with fads and delusions that often sprang from valid ideas and causes -- many of which still have their followers today: alchemy and the philosopher's stone, the prophecies of Nostradamus, the coming of comets and judgment day, the Rosicrucians, and astrology. Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness Of Crowds is an important historical treatise that modern readers will find fascinating, engaging, and shrewd as they see how history repeats itself, but that disastrous pitfalls can be avoided by understanding the cycles and patterns of greed based ignorance plays in promoting and perpetuating group hysteria in the fields of business and finance, politics and superstitions.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Social history of crowd mentality, not only about stocks, October 31, 2000
Most people know this book is a classic -- but it's unfortunate that it's thought of as a book about investments, when investments are really only a small part of the phenomena Mackay covers. We have all heard about Dutch tulips a million times over -- it is therefore much more interesting to read Mackay's chapters about popular slang expressions, or about superstitions, or about quack medicine. There are great micro-histories here about the comings and goings of fads, both those contemporary to Mackay and those that preceded him.
While Mackay's points about the irrationality of crowds are useful for the investor, these "lessons" about Dutch tulips and other financial manias are cliches today. You need not read this book to find out about them. This book's true value lies in its comprehensive history and analyses of other fads, hoaxes, and "manias," most of which have, fittingly enough, been forgotten today.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars what edition to choose, January 4, 2006
Be carefull with what edition you get of this great book. Because this book you just have to have.

Notice that the Harriman House edition is missing ALOT of pages.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for the Average Reader, April 26, 2004
By 
RV (California, United States) - See all my reviews
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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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Extraordirary Popular Delusions - Mackay, January 11, 2007
By 
Robert I. Biederwolf (Marshfield, Wisconsin USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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I was disappointed in this purchase. I have a copy of the COMPLETE edition of this book and that is what I wanted, but what you sent was an abridged edition and I found it to be a disappointment. I intended to give it as a gift. Sorry. Robert I. Biederwolf
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This is a very condensed version of the original, December 17, 2006
By 
Peter Piper (New Mexico, USA) - See all my reviews
Note that this book, "Extraordinary Popular Delusions" is a VERY condensed version of the original. This edition contains only 112 pages, the first three chapters, mainly dealing with economics while the original contains 768 pages. If you want only the material dealing with financial bubbles, then you can buy this edition, however you if you are interested in the broader phenomenon of the madness of crowds, then you'd do well to buy the original version of this book, which you can find under its full title, "Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds".
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45 of 52 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars THIS ISN'T THE BOOK YOU'RE LOOKING FOR., April 19, 2003
By A Customer
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This book is a thin, thin, flimsy 98 page excerpt of the real 778 pagesbook. Don't buy it.
It is a flimsy thin paperback. IT IS NOT A HARDCOVER. AMAZON HAS IT LISTED WRONGLY.
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have book, December 28, 2000
Goodness knows how many times this book has been reprinted, but it is a classic, it recounts many of the strange and popular freakish and delusional things that crowds have got up to over history. Tulip-mania, witch-hunts, fortune-telling, south-seas bubble. Its fun, fascinating and easy to dip into for a quick read as each chapter is really independent of the others. I re-read parts of this recently having just read Elaine Showalter's very controversial recent book "Hystories". Showalter's book is as much about modern psychological 'hysteria's' (as she calls them) - things like Recovered Memory Syndrome, and Ritual Abuse accusations which she seems to liken very much to popularist crowd behaviour . And while you may or not agree with her, I think it is interesting to read her book after this one. Still if you just want a bit of light read, then this book is definitely right up there - and it is always so much more fun and comfortable to be able to laugh gently at the patent ignorance of these poor deluded historical crowds!
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Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay (Paperback - October 22, 2013)
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