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Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds Paperback – October 22, 2013
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About the Author
After a couple of yearsÃÂÃÂ education in Brussels from 1828-1830, he became a journalist and songwriter in London. He worked on The Morning Chronicle from1835-1844, when he was appointed Editor of The Glasgow Argus. His song The Good Time Coming sold 400,000 copies in 1846, the year that he was awarded his Doctorate of Literature by Glasgow University.
He was a friend of influential figures such as Charles Dickens and Henry Russell, and moved to London to work on The Illustrated London News in 1848, and he became Editor of it in 1852. He was a correspondent for The Times during the American Civil War, but thereafter concentrated on writing books.
Apart from Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, he is best remembered for his songs and his Dictionary of Lowland Scotch.
Top Customer Reviews
B. But be careful which of the many offerings you buy.
First off, many of the editions in Amazon are partial reprints of the original 1841 edition. Anything with 200 or so pages is badly incomplete. The book you want must have all 16 chapters.
Second, most of the print editions, especially those claiming about 400-odd pages, are complete, but have type so small as to severely limit your reading pleasure. You must understand there is no copyright protection for the original English author so anyone can rip it off, and to make the most money many of these "artists" try to print as few literal pages as possible. The two editions I have bought (in 1967 at a bookstore and 2003 on Amazon), both published in London, have about 700 pages, including the dozen or so original hand illustrations. This is the print edition you want.
Third, to solve the type-size problem, acquiring a Kindle edition can be a good answer. It can also be priced as cheaply as 99 cents or even 0. But beware of what it contains as well. When I clicked on the Kindle version of a complete 16-chapter print version (the one on which I am writing this review) it turned out that the free Kindle version was shorted to just a few chapters, which I was able to discover only after I downloaded it
Fourth, the completely independent book, Gustave Le Bon's "The Crowd", originally published in 1895 is equally worth reading.
You'll love both books; make sure you actually enjoy them and get the whole things, as well.
To quote John Kenneth Galbraith, Economist: "There's nothing unique about this. It is something which happens every 20 or 30 years because that is about the length of the financial memory. It's about the length of time that it requires for a new set of suckers, if you will, a new set of people capable of wonderful self-delusion to come in and imagine that they have a new and wonderful fix on the future."
I enjoyed this book immensely, despite its length, but found it to be unsettling. The details of each of the many events covered are different, but there is an underlying theme that should be a warning to modern man. The author points out that the madness that periodically breaks out among the masses would, hopefully, be less in the future. If only he knew that these follies would continue up to the present day.
Each of the events he described had the same pattern:
Firstly, some individual or small circle of individuals would make a claim. The purpose could be profit, vengeance, or superstition.
Secondly, some larger segment of society (such as the Church, stock jobbers, etc.) would proclaim a societal emergency or, even, a great opportunity.
Thirdly, the masses would adopt, unquestioningly and illogically, the truth of the original claim, often twisting the claim in a manner the originators would not have imagined or possibly approved.
Fourthly, more reasonable men or organizations would be shunned or punished as heretics for failing to accept the popular delusion.
Lastly, the folly would become so reprehensible or unsustainable that it would fade away, only (regrettably) to be replaced by another.
In our times, we consider ourselves modern and rational. Many readers might look on the examples described in this book to be so absurd as to irrelevant to our times. However, our follies follow the same pattern - sometimes more subtle but often just as costly and often more deadly.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Amazing how much of what's in this book still apply to today's world. The reason why this work still resonates (I believe) is because it speaks to human nature that seems pretty... Read morePublished 3 days ago by The Real Bob
Interesting look at an alternative facet of historical events. Gets into the psyche of popular fads and leaves one with the knowledge that the whims and fancies that grip popular... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Tom Roberson
The language is dense and at times difficult to follow. For historical perspective though, it provides both depth and breadth. Read morePublished 3 months ago by PS Wright
Some stories are not that "extraordinary ".
Written in old English. (Shew for show).
Am adding my voice to the chorus of happy readers of this book. Its big and chock a block with more than you want to know about the gullibility, greed and stupidity of people. Read morePublished 4 months ago by evaline
Well worth a read - the subject matter does not date and the style is not too old-fashioned to be an interesting read.Published 4 months ago by Ed Garvey
What a delight. I enjoyed this book tremendously. It's extremely interesting, very well written (despite its age (written in 1841)), and highly amusing and at the same time... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Naturalist