Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

Front Cover
Prometheus Books, 2001 - History - 724 pages
94 Reviews
More than a century before Alan Greenspan coined the phrase "irrational exuberance" to describe the speculative bubble inflating technology stocks, Charles Mackay was recording the history of "tulipomania," a speculative madness surrounding the value of tulips in the 18th century that was the ruin of many Dutch and English investors. This is only one of the "extraordinary popular delusions" documented by Mackay in a fascinating study of group psychology. He also describes notorious witch hunts, haunted houses, the Crusades, beliefs in fortunetellers and in the magical power of alchemy, veneration of relics, bogus health cures and health scares, and many other examples of human credulity and flights from reason. This work is a true classic in the study of paranormal beliefs, a funny, shocking, and unbelievable yet true history of human gullibility.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Easy to read and enjoy. - Goodreads
It makes an excellent reference book for that alone. - Goodreads
It isn't like the epub format cannot handle pictures. - Goodreads

Review: Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

User Review  - Jay - Goodreads

I really enjoyed this book. Often, people seem to think the problems of the modern world are new and insurmountable issues. This book shows the cycle of life is just that, a cycle. Working on the ... Read full review

Review: Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

User Review  - Samuel Parker - Goodreads

This work of historical journalism belongs to the cream of 19th century nonfiction. Minus one star for sensationalism. When I checked some of its numbers against modern sources I found them to be somewhat exaggerated (for the sake of the story no doubt). Read full review



11 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2001)

Charles Mackay (1841-1889) was born in Perth, Scotland. His mother died shortly after his birth, and his father, who had been in turn a Lieutenant on a Royal Navy sloop (captured and imprisoned for four years in France) and then an Ensign in the 47th foot taking part in the ill-fated Walcheren Expedition where he contracted malaria, sent young Charles to live with a nurse in Woolwich in 1822. After a couple of years' education in Brussels from 1828-1830, he became a journalist and songwriter in London. He worked on The Morning Chronicle from 1835-1844, 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.

Bibliographic information