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BOOKS

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

The Universal Library

Charles Mackay

RRP: £8.99

1 January 2015

Published by Atlantic Books

ISBN: 9781843548485

‘Every age has its peculiar folly; some scheme, project, or fantasy into which it plunges, spurred on by the love of gain, the necessity of excitement, or the mere force of imitation,’ said author Charles Mackay in 1841. In his book, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, he charted in vibrant detail examples of financial, social and religious mass mania, including witch hunts; the prophecies of Nostradamus; haunted houses; alchemy and tulipmania – an eighteen-century financial craze in which speculators lost fortunes on a single Dutch tulip bulb. Mackay’s study of these movements, in which normally level-headed people seemingly lost their heads, show that greed and fear have always been the driving forces of human action. Time and time again, history proves that people cannot resist the mesmeric allure of a popular craze with momentum behind it.