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Crowds and Power Paperback – April 1, 1984
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Ranging from soccer crowds and political rallies to Bushmen and the pilgrimage to Mecca, Canetti exhaustively reviews the way crowds form, develop, and dissolve, using this taxonomy of mass movement as a key to the dynamics of social life. The style is abstract, erudite, and anecdotal, which makes Crowds and Power the sort of work that awes some readers with its profundity while irritating others with its elusiveness. Canetti loves to say something brilliant but counterintuitive, and then leave the reader to figure out both why he said it and whether it's really true. --Richard Farr
Top Customer Reviews
The kaliedoscopic journey for the reader includes a vast range of topics from Australian aborigines,pueblo indians, jivaro indians, etruscans to ants, monkeys, kangaroos to Islam, Christianity, Judaism.
Some aspects of this book might sound unbelievable( like laughing being a substitute for eating..I believe it though)...but I can only quote what Blake wrote in 'Proverbs from Heaven and Hell' -
"There is no truth that can be understood and not be believed".
Read this book. It could be one of the most important things you might be doing in your life.
This book is a massive--and for the most part massively entertaining--indictment of the human being at virtually every level of its existence. Whether alone, in packs, or full-sized crowds, our goal is not just survival, but to be the last man standing beside a pile of corpses. No kidding. Crudely put, that's the bottom line, but its how Canetti adds up the facts to arrive at his thesis, or, perhaps more accurately, subtracts all the subterfuges we hide behind, that provides the real fascination of *Crowds and Power.*
Somewhat reminiscent at times of Frazer's *Golden Bough,* Canetti's masterpiece explores, in part, ancient as well as more recent, but still `primitive' native cultures to reveal the power principle that drives civilizations and those who rule them. At the same time, he shows how the same ruthless dynamic is at work in modern society and in practically all human relationships. Animal behavior, paranoid schizophrenics, the hidden symbolism in the act of standing up, it's all brought to bear. Canetti's dazzling insights and audacious intellectual leaps, some more convincing than others, are startling, shocking--and maybe even true. The teeth in their smooth rows as mankind's first inspiration for order, weapons, and eventually prisons? Is it possible?Read more ›
The work is "Nietzschean" in its construction and often in its tone (and, from the light shed on human thinking, there are shades of Kafka in the work as well - man as beset, mortified and made anxious by the social walls that surround him and metastasize in growth and shape in his mind.) As in Nietzsche, there are idiosyncratic topic groupings and unexpected leaps between groupings. Canetti illuminates his central point by setting intellectual bonfires in a circle around it.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent read in these days and times, though it got a little too detailed and dry.Published 8 months ago by Carleton B. Waldrop
A big book; a bit tough going, but taken from an interesting angle.Published 12 months ago by John Muller
This sardonic book by the quiet and contemplative Elias Canetti must surely be the most important book about the psychic contagion that spreads through irrational crowds. Read morePublished on July 18, 2014 by John Harte
Very difficult read. Extremely informative, but slow going in my view. Perhaps I was expecting more fire, but this is definitely a must read and one that I am glad that I got... Read morePublished on July 15, 2014 by WhiskeynGolf
All I hear is praise for this book. It's good but I feel not as good as it should have been. Its rambling, discursive style is somewhat disorienting. Read morePublished on May 27, 2014 by Abner Rosenweig
I'll keep this short since there are already many good reviews here.
This book is a moving treatise on the dangers of powerful leaders who are very influential to the... Read more
Received the book quickly and in condition promised... a masterwork by a favored philosopher, "Crowds and Power" is essential reading for both serious academics and curious... Read morePublished on March 28, 2014 by karel